Cristina M. Sburlea
Main activity domains: education, climate change mitigation services, food production
I’m going to tell you something that you probably don’t want to hear, but it’s in your best interest: Stop waiting with your arm outstretched and you palm wide open!
Most people go through life thinking that things have to happen to them, that opportunity will find them, that others have to give them something. But let’s imagine a world in which every individual think exactly the same. The result is devastating! Nobody does anything, everyone just waits for everybody else, there is no progress, no evolution, we stagnate and then regress.
The world is full of people I just mentioned, but there are also those who take matters into their own hands. They see injustice, they take up a cause and fight to right that wrong. They want to get a job but cannot find work so they start their own business. They understand that they don’t know a topic, so they educate themselves, they discover and then invent. They don’t like what their parliamentary representatives do so they run for office or they work with/create an institution that helps parliament go in the right direction. There are numerous of these people and they make the world go around. You don’t have to agree with them, but you have to understand that they are the engines of society. They build their own opportunity and they create space for others as well.
We are now going through a major event in history,
Whether people know it or not, it affects the lives of every individual on this planet.
Some choose to run and hide, others such as medical doctors, police, some politicians choose to face it head on and we must thank them for this. And others create opportunity for growth.
As an entrepreneur, I am used to taking risks, I understand and find solutions to mitigate them. But the pandemic was a risk I did not consider even in my darkest dreams. So, as it began to unfold, I saw my world go dark. How could I pay people, how could I honour contracts? I did not care about my personal losses; I am used to that. I’ve had greater losses than this. But I was not responsible for others before. People have kids, mortgages, tuition to pay, they depend on the money of the business and this felt like an unbearable burden on my shoulders. I had two choices: I could hide and let everything collapse, or talk to my people, explain the situation and make them understand that I am here for them, that I want this to work for all of us.
A business is not just of the founder and owner, it is the fruit of the labour of everyone involved in this project. A business depends on the strength of everyone in it. But ultimately, it is the one in charge who must set an example and who must guide. Unfortunately for me, I was in the business of education and schools shut down!
But this is not a story of failure-
this is the story of hard work and success!
I asked myself what can I do? I looked at the basic needs of society: food, health, education. Classical education can be upended in extreme cases; however, food, health, and emergency education are the rocks which support us even in these times. So, this is what I had to do. I had to move toward a business that focuses on one, two or all three if I wanted to survive.
Luckily for me, I am passionate about learning so I took on this new challenge. Even now, at 32 I still learn. I go to school, I take online courses, I learn from others. Learning is vital and it should be a priority for all of us. It can be fun, even if most people see it as a chore. I’ve seen complex courses such as math, neuroscience, physics be fun for kids and adults. I’ve seen it because I took some of these courses and I designed some of them. And some of my students have gone to the best universities in the world, have developed their own businesses, and most fell in love with learning, because they discovered that it is fun, if done properly. And now Sapiens Systems is developing an international program and, I may be biased, but it is great and I hope to change the face of education with this, forever! Yes, this is a pandemic, but no, hiding is not an option. We must work to create a better future! We must educate the next generations to be engaged citizens, hard workers, and problem solvers.
And then, once I figured out what we need, I had to move toward creating opportunity! This is the complicated part! What can we do to still have jobs and even create more jobs, create growth?
Now more than ever we see that it is paramount to take care of our health and of our Planet. Our health is connected to that of Earth. Throughout time we polluted, littered, destroyed our home, the only home we have ever known and the only one we will continue to have for a long time (though I hope we can live on other planets in the future as well!). We must clean it and restore its health. Pollution particles are vectors for the spread of disease. The scarcity of resources due to overconsumption is now showing in our food production. Our food systems are not going to be able to support our growing population soon. The future seems bleak! And yet it doesn’t have to be this way.
These problems that we face today are, in a weirdly complicated manner, resources for growth as well. Imagine this: every problem needs a solution and our capitalist economies run on profit. So why not make a profit out of solving our problems? Now you must be asking why not do it as an NGO? Remember that arm outstretched, palm facing upward metaphor in the beginning? NGOs, as great as they are, always depend on the benevolence of others and they always must ask for things from others. Businesses do not! Corporations are amongst the most efficient factors for change in the world! Look at Tesla, it is changing the face of transportation. Look at SpaceX. It is making it possible for people to go to space. Look at Deep Mind, it has changed the very skin of society with its artificial intelligence! Companies which built technology, which invested in research, inventors and people who dared to act are drivers of social change! But then look at politicians, they are the last to act, they only react when society has already changed!
So, I added new opportunities for my start-up. We need cleaner air, so we now build vegetation panels for the walls of buildings and we create rooftop gardens! Cleaner air, smaller bills for the maintenance of the building. We need food and we must use less resources or we will deplete the planet of what we need most: sustenance. We now want to build vertical hydroponic farms! They use 95% less resources than regular farms and we can even get to 20-30 times more produce on the same surface. And everything is eco-friendly.
Now, I don’t have everything figured out, but what I am sure of is that it is in us to create our own chances for growth and development! It is the responsibility of each and every single one of us to build our own future and to leave the planet in better condition than when we were born! Let us cherish and respect Earth, our home, and all other humans. We are one big family, one species, all made of the same chemical elements so let’s not wait and pass the responsibility to others. Let’s act and be that change that we want for ourselves!