|Black Economic Empowerment Cannot Occur in a Vacuum|
There is a growing clarion call for more Blacks to become entrepreneurs if they want to improve their economic destinies. We cannot pursue this objective in a vacuum. Black businesses are started at a rate that far exceeds that of white businesses already. However, all over the world more than 80% of all businesses FAIL WITHIN 5 YEARS.
Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. We must consider all of the options that lead to economic prosperity - an "all of the above" approach that includes professional careers, and the whole range of skilled work that provides a living for our families.
The reality is that most of us work for about 10% of the successful business owners in the USA. What is the rest of the population to do while their peers are failing at starting businesses? They must go to work for someone. Some of us have our own destinies in our hands, but 90% of the population of the world works for someone else (according to the World Bank). Even corporate CEO's who are paid millions are employees.
There is no way a person who cannot read, write, master mathematics, understand information technology, solve problems with critical thinking, and collaborate with everyone else on this planet -- can hope to be successful in business. That is why so many fail at trying to start their own businesses. You have to be smarter, work harder, and develop collaborative relationships with other successful people to succeed in business in the 21st century.
The message we must convey to our children is that they live in a global society, like it or not. There is no evidence that we can create a unique Black economic system that makes us all independent of the global economic system. The key differentiators for success in the 21st century are "SKILLS" -- business skills, information technology skills, communications skills, decision-making skills, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, LIFELONG LEARNING SKILLS.
We still face systemic and institutional barriers to our progress. Our efforts must prepare us to compete and win within the existing systems. There is no way we can drop out and hope to overcome the disadvantages we already suffer from. We cannot create physics different from that which is sending space probes to Mars. We cannot create a separate information network while the whole world is leveraging the Internet for competitive advantage. We cannot ignore the advancements in business management, financial markets, logistics, science, and information technology -- just because they were developed by our former oppressors. This is a win-win scenario for the planet. There are bigger winners than others. And then there are losers. The only losers are those without skills.
Some of us have advanced to a level of prosperity that we don't have to worry about where our next meal is coming from. Most of that progress has taken place within currently advancing global economic systems. We must prepare our children for the life they are living, as well as the life they are dreaming. Yes, they must dream. But they must show up every day and compete on the field where the game is being played today.
Our task in the current generation is to ensure that more of our Black children are willing to stand upon their heritage and collaborate shoulder to shoulder with all other high achievers. Not assimilation -- where one denies his or her heritage -- but true collaboration, where everyone comes to the table with the skills to make a difference. We can do that with pride in our heritage, with self-confidence, with results from our efforts. But we cannot do it without skills or extraordinary effort.
I am unwilling to concede that every job is "working for white folks." I can build wealth for my family through honest work without owning a business. I am unwilling to concede that others can always achieve more that we can. No one can work harder than I can. I am also unwilling to concede the progress that we have made. Some of us have done well, and we should do all we can to help others. In the Information Age, we can take our destinies in our hands through collaborative efforts.
If we determine that people of African descent are behind the progress of others, it is not realistic to expect others to slow down. Nor is it realistic to expect that separating ourselves from global progress to create a system of our own will make things better. For those of us who are behind, there is one certain tactic to achieve parity in a global society -- SPEED UP!
There are certainly many barriers to overcome. But one thing for sure is that we must work harder at realizing our dreams. And we must collaborate with others to remove barriers that inhibit our progress.
High achievement in the Information Age is not for the fainthearted.
Roger Madison, CEO