On October 8-9, the director of Acton’s Rome office, Kishore Jayabalan, and its operations manager, Michael Severance, traveled to southern Italy to present PovertyCure and The Call of the Entrepreneur, the original and latest of the Institute’s popular educational DVD films.
About thirty university students and young business professionals gathered near the resort town of Sorrento to attend a week-long “Liberty Camp”, organized by Glenn Cripe of the Phoenix-based Language of Liberty Institute and co-sponsored by the Freedom and Entrepreneurship Foundation whose founder, Jacek Spendel, is a two-time Acton University alumnus. Liberty Camp is a traveling educational course, recruiting participants mainly from Eastern and Central European youth. The classical liberal curriculum in conducted entirely in English and focuses seminars on the foundations of economic and political liberty.
Countries represented at the Liberty Camp in Sorrento included the Ukraine, Albania, Poland, Georgia, Russia, Armenia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
Led by San Francisco’s charismatic IT entrepreneur and TEDx speaker, John Chisholm, the camp included workshops on entrepreneurship as a calling and lifestyle with practical seminars on how to launch start-up companies and leverage viable assets. Acton’s inspiring films were shown between Chisholm’s seminars.
Chisholm taught his STAARRS system (Skills, Technologies, Assets, Achievements, Relationships, Reputation, [Inner] Strengths) as his core counsel on discerning and setting up new business ventures while also highlighting chapters from his forthcoming book Unleash Your Inner Business.
Kishore Jayabalan hosted and guided discussion on the fourth episode of PovertyCure “Circles of Exchange”, the most technical, economically speaking, of the 6-part DVD series.
In this particular episode, the theme of exclusion from commercial exchange and networks of productivity is discussed as a major hindrance to economic development in poor nations. As the president of Partners Worldwide, Doug Seebeck, says in this episode: We can teach a men how to fish and they eat for a lifetime; the problem is not that they “don’t know how to fish…[but that] they don’t have access to the pond.”
Camp attendees from former Soviet-bloc countries talked about the tragic effects of economic isolation in their own regions and the need to have freer, less regulated commercial exchange in Europe and in overseas trade to alleviate stagnation in their homelands. Many said they related best to the part about Ireland (once known as the “sick man of Europe”) whose Celtic Tiger success story echoed South Korea’s miraculous growth in Asia. This was in direct contrast to Nicaragua which, while demographically and economically identical to Ireland only 60 years ago, has never experienced serious exponential growth because of its policies of protectionism.
“We have the facts on our side”, Jayabalan told the participants, reinforcing the point that countries which eschew economic isolation develop at the fastest rates.
Michael Severance screened the Call of the Entrepreneur in its entirety and led a post-viewing seminar on virtue, vocation and entrepreneurship. Reaction mostly centered on the inspiring perseverance and “e-variables” of faith and brainy innovation entrepreneurs must show while facing extremely difficult circumstances.
Attendees said they particularly appreciated Jimmy Lai’s story of risk and noble determination as an escapee from Maoist China, who later became one of Hong Kong’s most successful magnates in the media and fashion industries. Finally, much discussion ensued on why many religious leaders tend to demonize or at least do not encourage business as a serious vocation and how a sense of calling mitigates risk aversion, strengthens perseverance and inspires creativity.
The PovertyCure DVD series began its roll out in Rome on September 29-30 with a private screening for seminarians and staff of the Pontifical Urban College, the Vatican’s seminary for developing world nations. The Call of the Entrepreneur, released internationally in 2008, has shown numerous times in Rome and throughout Europe.
The Call of the Entrepreneur “has proved to have long shelf-life”, said Severance, “due to its timeless and ever-urgent appeal in support of the vocation to business leadership, economic freedom, and innovation to reignite struggling economies across the world.”
“The fact it has screened and continues to screen in so many countries, and in so many languages in the last 7 years really speaks for itself”, he said.
Plans for further European screenings of the Institute’s two films are ongoing and continue to gather interest as clashes over labor and regulation reform come to a height in the crisis-stricken Old Continent. Momentum is also building on Pope Francis’s exhortation that we must show concern for the poor and struggling workers, but must not treat them as mere “objects” of our charity and public welfare recipients, but as dignified “subjects” who can be creative protagonists of their own destinies.