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David Oliphant
 
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Our solution: Sustainable social entrepreneurs

30 January 2014, 06:55

On the 14 of November 2013 the inaugural AGM was held for the Euclid Society, the brainchild of David Oliphant and Mbulelo Gushu both graduates from the University of Cape Town. The AGM was an introduction to the society’s aims and the reason for pursuing their vision. The vision is a simple but complex idea of changing the consciousness of our society by creating interest in the up liftment of our largely underprivileged population.

They opened the evening by expressing the ideology in which the Euclid society has sprung forth from the spirit of communal existence and pluralism which may be utilised to form a synergy through enlightenment. The Euclid tree is the tree of knowledge and the aims of this idea is firmly rooted in the metaphysical belief that we are social creatures who are meant to prosper as a group rather than as individuals.

The members of the Euclid Society will work as social agents by sharing views and also being the eyes, ears and hands of the organisation on the ground floor. Once a sufficient skills membership pool is created, knowledgeable and skilled members will form power groups with field specific input. An example was given where power groups would enable NGO`s and NPO`s to gain access to funding and also to assist them in improving their situation by perhaps helping to lower overheads with cost advice and better tracking of expenses through proper book keeping methods. The strength of the Euclid society is dependent on the strength of its network consisting of its alumni and affiliates. The structure of the organisation is that of a social business where the proceeds from activities will be used to further the reach of the organisation in aiding with societal change. Mentors will be used as examples to inspire hope for young (13 – 21) people who themselves are also from modest backgrounds. Young people learn to know themselves through their surroundings and by inspiring those to achieve their goals the organisation will improve their idea of self-worth and their capabilities.

Project Management lecturer at UCT, Dr. Abimbola Windapo, said the following words during her talk on the evening, “Without knowledge they will perish” words which echoed in the lecture room at UCT. She was referring to humans and human life. Knowledge is essential to our existence as well as the preservation of life and its evolution. It is not a question of out with the old in with the new, as the abrupt change in laws and regulations may lead to even greater social complications and misunderstanding due to insufficient administrative skills and public policies used to maintain order. The Euclid Society would like to address the root cause of our struggling population’s plight against poverty and change the one factor which is most powerful if positive and most destructive if negative, here I'm referring to the evil of apathy and indifference. A seemingly harmless way of life, "I care enough not to cause harm, but I can't change this situation." But this attitude can be influenced for the better - society may stimulate each other through a natural process of positive reinforcement, what Dr. Windapo called “waking the sleeping giant”.

Dr. Windapo posed two questions to the lecture room of guests and members.

1)      What can we change? : The consciousness of ourselves and by sharing our views we may impact the consciousness of others.

2)      How can we change it? : Through the Euclid Society.

A long term goal of the Euclid society is to change the way companies` success is measured, success of industry should be measured in terms of pluralism, which emphasises the progress of oneself and through the positive progression of ones surrounding. From one point it will look at profits generated but also at the net socio-economic impact of activities which can be either negative or positive. Success of an organisation should be judged on the ability it has to improve not only its own circumstance but also the circumstance of those around it and the community it is part of. This balancing will incentivise participation in the ideal but also allows South Africans to become conscious consumers, by the association one has with a certain business or brand. No smoke and mirrors will be able to aid businesses from the image they create for themselves when they do have a negative score. This movement is in no way radical but a non-aggressive logical approach to our complex socio-economic problem.

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