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Fellows Friday is a weekly series on the TED Blog that profiles one TED Fellow each week. We have asked the Fellows to answer our question below to share their knowledge and advice with other social entrepreneurs, innovators, and changemakers who are coming up with big ideas that can change the world.
Glaciologist Michele Koppes travels to some of the coldest, iciest places on Earth for work. Her one-of-a-kind research in the Himalayas fills in gaps of unrecorded glacial change, and may help vulnerable populations adapt to shifting weather patterns. Despite the severe consequences of climate change, Michele finds hope in the optimism of the younger generation, and the growing role women have in tackling this (and other) global issues.
Stephanie: There are many aspiring social entrepreneurs out there who are trying to take their passion and ideas to the next level. What is one piece of advice you would give to them based on your own experiences and successes?
Michele: My husband is an investor who supports social entrepreneurs serving the base of the pyramid. A few years ago, I joined him as he visited a microfinance institution in rural Karnataka. The one thing that I learned from this experience is that everybody has great ideas. If you just give people the tools to test their ideas out, they’re going to make the best decisions for themselves.
So what I would say to anybody who wants to be a social entrepreneur, is just to believe in yourself. Go for it, and do it! And talk it out to people. Talk it out to people you think would respond favorably, and hopefully they will figure out ways to help you to get the capital to get going. Once it starts going, it can be a real snowball. But you just have to have faith that you’re able to do it.
Also, be realistic about what your strengths are, and where you could use help. Seek help where you could use it. Being an entrepreneur is a really hard thing. There are many, many people with many good ideas, but a person who’s able to do all the different aspects of starting and running a business are very few and far between. Knowing your strengths and knowing your weaknesses, and seeing where you can get help where somebody else has a strength, is the best kind of partnership to get an idea off the ground.
Read the rest of Michele's Fellows Friday interview here.