About Sarah Green

Sarah Green

Sarah Green is passionate about social entrepreneurship and is working on her masters in International Development with a focus in entrepreneurship and microfinance. She spent six months in Spain studying abroad and 3 months in Uganda teaching entrepreneurship to University students. Needless to say, she is passionate about traveling the world and learning as much as possible about people with different backgrounds and cultures.

In Kampala Uganda, she taught entrepreneurship and microfinance concepts to Ugandan University students and helped them to develop, implement, and secure funding for their business plans. Starting in 2010, she has been working with the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour .

The Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour is working to spread the message that, "in a world of rapidly evolving technology and globalization, being able to leverage the entrepreneurial mindset regardless of career path is critical to success". They are the first and only nationwide entrepreneurship tour that brings the country's top young entrepreneurs to colleges and universities to help spread the entrepreneurial mindset.


Latest Posts by Sarah Green

Are We Thinking Egocentrically or Empathetically?

June 28, 2010 by  

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I’ve been here for a little over a month now, and I’ve realized that I have some built up frustrations.  I’m frustrated because they way Ugandans think and do things is completely different from the way I think and do things.  Profound, right?  Why is this such an “ah ha” moment?  Because I was naïve enough to think that “my way” is the way that makes sense; the way that works; the way things should be.

This moment came after telling some of my frustrations to a good friend.  She explained that every single person who travels to Africa, at any time, for any reason, gets to a point where they throw up their hands and say, “I feel like there’s nothing more I can do.”  I came here to teach entrepreneurship and to help Ugandans build businesses so that they can build a life for themselves and start to get out of poverty.  But I have been going about it the wrong way.  I have been teaching using a Westernized curriculum.   Instead, I need to understand the culture first and see how, and if, the entrepreneurship mindset can combine with their cultural norms.

The disconnect between Africans in need and first world cavaliers swooping in to save them is completely attitudinal. It is a cultural difference.  However, the problem, I would argue, lies not in the Africans’ failure to change their mind and their way of life. It’s our inability to see empathetically rather than egocentrically.

All of us…every single person who has ever wanted to help bring change and healing to Africa (or other developing countries)…cannot understand why those people are so “stubborn” that they can’t accept our ways and move on.  Things would be so much better for them, right?

Let me try to paint a picture for you to try to put things into perspective.  Imagine an foreigner traveling all the way to the US to come to make a museum out of all of tour “unbelievable” cultural norms.  They stay at your house and play games and have conversations with you and then tell you that everything you’re doing is wrong and that’s why you have such a terrible life. But this life is all you’ve ever known.  Sure, you have some problems, but everyone has problems in life and that’s what makes us who we are. Who is he to tell you you’re doing it wrong? And even if he is right, and you see that what he tells you might be better…after he leaves, where do the resources come from to maintain those steps? How do you keep up what he started when you’re left with what you had to begin with?

This is the biggest thing that I’m learning here.  The realities are so different and really, who are we to say that the Western way is better or that it will really improve anyone’s life?  Many of the people that I’m meeting didn’t even have running water or electricity for the first time until just 20 years ago. I can’t imagine going from such a lifestyle to a life of business, work, competition, internet, washing machines, etc.

This is definitely a cultural difference that I am experiencing and who am I to say that the way I do things is better than theirs?  I can’t. Look at all of the trouble we’ve gotten ourselves into!  The thing that frustrates me the most is what frustrates me about all people… everywhere around the world… a lack of interest and a sense of indifference in trying to take advantage of your opportunities and changing your own future. I think that the only way our lives could be perceived as “better” is because we have the opportunity to these new opportunities if we choose to do so.  Right now, that’s become the new focus of my work here… making sure everyone has an equal opportunity to access these opportunities if they want them.

The biggest thing we all have to remember is that we’re not going to be the ones to save the world (the hardest thing I’ve had to accept). It’s simply not going to happen.  One person, one group, one idea is not going to stand up the dilapidated continent on its own two feet and leave it a fully functioning, healthy, living breathing entity. Point blank, we have our priorities in the wrong place.

We have to teach, supply, train and help one or two AFRICAN organizations to stand on their own two feet and bring change to their own people. Outsiders aren’t getting the job done. The governments aren’t getting the job done. We have to be the resources and create the opportunities to have people work through us to make the changes happen.

I know that I won’t be the one to change Africa, the government definitely won’t, and I think the current generation can only make the first steps.  I think it’s a matter of education and knowledge and seeing what opportunities are available and taking the initiative!  You can’t just do that all at once, it’s a gradual process.  However, there’s always a place to start.