‘Global entrepreneur’ travels world fixing startups

Updated on 25 July 2014

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'Global entrepreneur' travels world fixing startups

What started out as an experimental tour to Asia for a young Frenchman and his friend sparked a fire for a unique entrepreneurial project that is growing at a rapid pace.

Christian Vanizette, who is based in France, is a part of a new breed of global entrepreneurs who see themselves as social business activists. His main goal he says, is to find solutions to social challenges through innovation and entrepreneurship as advocated by Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Professor Muhammad Yunus.

“Many people tend to think that solutions require money,” he said. “We try to look beyond the problem of not having finance and tap into innovative ways of solving problems without spending money.”

This funding obstacle is what drove him to look at societal problems with a different mindset, Vanizette said. He tries to engineer and foster a community of individuals and groups who share a common passion for social change to engage to solve social entrepreneurs’ challenges.

“The problem is that entrepreneurs are looking for money instead of looking for solutions”

Make Sense

Vanizette, 26, travels the length and breath of the world fostering new business solutions and creating networks for entrepreneurs. He says what he does can be thought of as cross-cutting business incubator. He has expertise in technology, capacity building and social enterprise with qualifications in business management and marketing.

The organisation he co-founded, MakeSense Community, has membership in at least four continents. Its main objective is to boost the impact of social entrepreneurs by connecting them with individuals and enabling them to take up challenges and also foster networking groups.

“What I’ve discovered with South Africa is that there is a lot of potential for new ideas in technology. Unlike European and Asian countries, South Africa is still developing, which presents a lot of opportunities. But the problem is that entrepreneurs are looking for money instead of looking for solutions,” he said.

Social entrepreneurship in SA

Vanizette was talking about his experiences during his recent first two-day visit to South Africa where he conducted a real-time, live brainstorming session.

He was invited  to Johannesburg  by SAP, a software solutions company, for a coaching session called Impactathon. He engaged educational and charity organisations to find new solutions to challenges without having to spend a cent.

The brainstorming session focused on two social entrepreneurs looking for solutions to the problems that each of the businesses was struggling with. One of the organisations was James Trust, a non-profit organisation looking for help putting together funding and marketing strategies for their non-profit organisation.

Throughout  the brain storming session Vanizette’s passion is undeniable, he is a live-wire, bouncing participants’ various ideas off other with easy and infectious humor. Impressively, he allows and encourages each participants’ to find creative ways to peel away the layers of each problem until only the solution is left.

As to what solutions are needed for Africa in general and South Africa in particular, Vanizette said relevant solutions lay in young people using the tools they have at their disposal to advance their communities.

“Africa is generally a young population continent. Social change will be brought by young people. So these young people have to pull together and forge a common goal. If they work individually from each other it’s going to be difficult for them to solve their social challenges,” he said.

Asked what motto drove him, Vanizette said: “I’m trying to hack capitalism using the social business virus and a backpack.”

Watch: Christian Vanizette and his “gangsters” in a quick “Hold-Up” brainstorming session to solve business problems.

I’m trying to hack capitalism

using the Social business virus,

a backpack…and some post-its.

I’m trying to hack capitalism

using the Social business virus,

a backpack…and some post-its.

I’m trying to hack capitalism

using the Social business virus,

a backpack…and some post-its.

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