So you didn’t go to the World Economic Forum in Davos this year. Me neither. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. As Davos coverage spun through the media again this year, I wondered whether those 2,000 people who do go actually control the future of business.
Is it just my wishful thinking that power is more evenly distributed? Am I hostage to my myopic view from the world of the fast-growing start-up? Why am I so convinced that something profound is changing in terms of where the power lies?
In Michael Moore’s new diatribe, I mean film, “Capitalism – a Love Story”, he talks about a discovery of a previously unearthed broadcast of FD Roosevelt’s vision for a radically different America where everyone is guaranteed a home, a job, and healthcare. Michael laments that it “didn’t have to be this way”, and that capitalism must be overthrown.
Both Moore and Davos’ vision of the world both have profound limitations in my opinion. They both focus on those at the top of the pyramid, but the real action is happening at the bottom.
It is business networks like Ecademy, which has 250,000 active members sharing information, building trust and transacting that interest me more than Davos now. Or the Fredericks Foundation – one of the most successful micro-finance organisations – helping people who have made bad decisions get their lives back on track to become micro-entrepreneurs.
At the launch of the Enterprise Alliance last week in the House of Commons, a new group focused on helping entrepreneurs establish themselves, I spoke again about Individual Capitalism – which reflects the social trend that most people would rather work for themselves, view themselves as their own P&L and bran. They don’t trust their employers or their government, and feel that they are the best-placed to deal with their livelihood and their well-being.
Ah, but you say: “you have a skewed worldview, Julie – you hang out with too many entrepreneurs; that’s why you feel that way”. The people from the wrong side of the tracks or the disadvantaged – they’re desperate to have a big cushy corporate job.
Check again. The internet above all has spoiled people rotten with the taste of freedom. Once you are free, you never go back to a model of hierarchical employment.
The way that Britain balances out and gets back into the black is not by discovering a major new industry which we dominate globally. It is by each unit – each family, each individual, each local community – getting into a stable, profitable mode. Then the sum of the parts will be in harmony. The world will look more like Ecademy and less like Davos in 10 years time. And the people will be far friendlier.
Julie Meyer is chief executive of Ariadne Capital and a Dragon on the BBC’s Online Dragons’ Den.