micropreneurs | April 15, 2012

How Protests Fuel Innovation: Rahaf Harfoush at TEDx Wall Street

“I believe that in every protest there is an economic opportunity,” Rahaf Harfoush said during her recent TEDxWallStreet talk. Speaking at the New York Stock Exchange, just blocks from where the Occupy movement set up camp at Zuccotti Park, the digital strategist told the audience that “the future of protest is: creating new ideas.” She explained why the old equation for peaceful protests—a critical mass plus a boycott or strike—no longer works, and how a new model, based on the rise of “micropreneurs,” could benefit both sides.

Harfoush’s new model looks like this: an individual “micro-influences” a critical mass, and offers them a positive alternative to the problem. It's the idea that protests can spark new and positive entrepreneurial businesses, and vice versa. This would provide “an alternative platform, and a new business model that permitted people to completely bypass the issue and create a type of social change, while adding a positive element to the conversation.”

More from Rahaf Harfoush’s TEDxWallStreet talk:

Every protest is pretty much a consumer segment that's telling you that there is some unmet need that they are not getting. If protesting is usually something bad—we're always withholding something, abstaining from something, taking something away—what if we made protest something good? What if instead of taking something out of the system, we put it back in? What if instead of waiting for banks and institutions and all of these parties to change—what if we led the way by changing ourselves first? And this is where entrepreneurs come in. This is where archiTECHs come in.

Rahaf Harfoush, formerly the Associate Director of the Technology Pioneer Programme at the World Economic Forum in Geneva, is currently writing her second book, ArchTECHs: How to Live, Govern, and Learn in a Hyper-Connected World.

Up Next

entrepreneurs | April 12, 2012