It has taken nearly 10 years but I am slowly coming to realise that it truly is small business, entrepreneurs, social activists and industry experts with business and marketing savvy who possess the greatest ability to ‘agitate’ for the change they desire.
Martha Abari Bartholomew is a South Sudanese entrepreneur and I will use her own words to articulate her intent:
“It is not about personal business but it is about what you do to transform South Sudan. For the country to reach a better status, we must have a good environment of entrepreneurship – entrepreneurs are the ones who will build this nation… It’s not about the government, it’s about us standing on our own feet. If we can all stand on our own, we will prosper. If we are depending on the country to hold us up, we will all fall. I want to make sure every person around me doing business are raised together to develop this nation.” (source)
I found out about Martha because she participated in UNDP’s Entrepreneurship Training and Business Development Services workshops and is featured on the UNDP website as a leading example of a young person successfully building a business in South Sudan. There is little else I could find online about her, asides from some stunning photos on her Instagram (see featured image). She is a vibrant, enthusiastic and capable member of her society. For this fact, I think we should know she exists in this world and feel hope that she is helping others to stand up independently and take control of their own futures.
Martha faces broader hardships than the standard young woman taking a risk in small business. South Sudan is plagued with social problems, drought, famine, economic crisis, political instability, honestly the list goes on (source, source, source)… It would be easy to think it was all just too hard to break through these hardships, and find yourself in the standard ebb and flow of society. But Martha has utilised international aid to benefit herself and her goals, and reclaim control over her business. She is clearly blessed in being (relatively) safe in her community, potentially wealthy, and in a position to participate in training to further her education. This is not the reality for a lot of women (and indeed men) in South Sudan, there are literally droves of being migrating across the country away from famine and persecution.
I believe sometimes this can lead to a negative view of people like Martha and I think this is misguided. We should not feel anger or like she ‘doesn’t deserve it’ or that she has it ‘easy’. She is still working bloody hard and we should give her the credit that is due to her. In addition to that, where we should be directing our anger is at the sanctioned violence, government corruption and military-driven violence that is perpetrated against innocent people. We shouldn’t bring Martha down in the pursuit of raising others up.
So let’s celebrate this beautiful human being for standing tall whilst digging deep into the entrepreneurial pursuit of self-betterment and social change.
Thank you to the following sites: