Dear members of the Foundation, fellow winners, entrepreneurs, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to start by thanking my beloved wife for her intelligent and compassionate advice day in and day out, her endless willingness to discuss challenges, gauge different options and support me in difficult times.
Thank you to my parents for helping me become a positive and persistent person – All of you who fight for a better world know that it takes a lot of persistence and conviction to move the business and peace agenda ahead.
Thank you also to my colleagues, without whom there would not be a team to dream of innovative solutions and convert those dreams into action.
I am also grateful to our partners and clients who believed in our vision and made it become a reality.
Thank you also to my country which – through its contradictions and difficulties- forces us to innovate.
To be brief I would only like to speak about three big current issues and some historic trends, all related to our human ability to dream, interact with each other and innovate:
The first theme is the urgency to create social justice and a sense of global citizenship and to ensure the guarantee of human rights.
I don’t like the world as it is. I want there to be opportunities for everyone. I come from a country with 200 years of history, of which almost 150 have been in conflict. Only 49 years have been peaceful. I am 32 years old and have not experienced one day of peace.
In Colombia, I am part of a privileged group of society that has access to education, opportunities and the possibility to travel, but at the same time I have seen the pain and misery of the war:
I take the opportunities I had as a responsibility. I believe that looking at the many ongoing conflicts, we all, as individuals do not only have the moral obligation to reform our ways of consuming and doing business, but it is in our self-interest to do so if we want to live and operate our businesses safely and sustainably in the future .
Secondly, I want to touch upon how the economic and entrepreneurial context requires people to be ready to develop and be connected with new business models and ways to generate shared value.
Business strategies are based on the idea of increasing efficiency and creating value along the value chain. Managing risk at each step or generating efficiencies increases value.
I am very convinced that each exercise of entrepreneurial or business strategy is also an opportunity to change what we don’t like in the world. I also believe that each inefficiency, injustice and each negative impact on people or the environment and each lack of governance is also a business opportunity. If a situation is not optimal, one can change it and it is worth changing it. With this conviction I have conducted my business and -together with my team- we have accompanied our corporate clients of all sizes to see their strategy and risks as an opportunity for transformation.
Even though the world is not perfect, there are innumerable opportunities for imagination which can lead to innovation with only hard work, risk taking and practical implementation. The multitude of opportunities does not mean that it is easy to innovate, particularly if innovation should be applied in new social areas.
Innovation is only possible with a profound ethical commitment of people who study and understand the context and develop practical solutions. Even though there are many grounds for innovation, the most efficient one, in my view, is the one born out of the moral will to create businesses that can change the world, knowing that every step in the supply chain can be designed to create positive outcomes. In this sense, using the role of enterprises as agents of change is a notion with highly transformative power on a worldwide scale.
Thirdly, I want to speak about the opportunity that derives from the fact that we are getting more and more closely connected with people and their realities from other parts of the world. And I want to speak about how new technologies contain a promise to accelerate and scale urgent transformation.
We are living in a special period of time, is a disruption in human history in which we can and -judging by the conflicts we are facing globally- HAVE TO amplify positive impact and the creation of human values in business. We can create small changes and introduce them on a global level with great speed and impact. We as entrepreneurs and businessmen and –women have the opportunity to lead the use of technology with the aim to correct inefficiencies and creating opportunities for all. Technology can be a useful tool to globalize the capacity, and will, of people to be part of the transformation.
Related to these three themes, the urgency to change, the opportunity to create business value and the potential of new technology, are historic trends outlined by Steven Pinker, a professor of Harvard University that insist that we have statistical information about reduction of violence in history.
Pinker argues that we went walk from anarchy in hunter-gatherer societies to the reduction in violence in early civilisations to the humanist revolution, towards the reduction of violence after the second world war and finally the declaration and a lot of movements of universal human rights.
These tendencies show that thro out history we have gone from violence to more peace. This is what I choose to see. I choose to see the glass as half full as opposed to half empty.
I am an optimist and attracted by the idea of seeing this context as an opportunity. What if these tendencies of reducing violence are the result of multiple innovators with a moral sense to created technology and economic opportunities? Who have created an ESCENARIO for peace? These tendencies have made way for some stable democracies based on the rule of reason, towards a global market which has made it possible the creation of connecting technologies possible, technologies that connect all of us here and those who follow us on livestream.
The future path in places where conflict and injustice persist like in Colombia, Mexico, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan require us to re-create those historic tendencies, I have spoken of, from civilisation to the guarantee of human rights.
The stable path starts from the ethical dialogue, it rests on entrepreneurship, innovation and technology to improve the state of business and to accelerate a change that ensures better conditions for everyone.
I take this prize as an encouragement and a responsibility to work even harder to make this happen.
Thank you, thank you indeed!
Juan Andrés Cano
Oslo, May 6th 2015