Researcher Abel Diaz Gonzalez investigates how ecosystems support social entrepreneurs to achieve their goals. He adds a big portion of empathy to his work and tries to make the best of each situation in his daily life. Born and raised in a country where people don’t have access to many basic resources and their basic needs are still unsatisfied, his positivity is truly inspiring. 

Achieving your goals can be a joyful journey despite the hardships

“My life is driven by many purposes, which help me to stay motivated, active and positive. I think one of my main purposes is to enjoy every day as it comes. There are certainly many happy moments we can share with family, colleagues and friends. But I am also convinced that life isn’t always a fairytale. And there, I think is where I reflect and always try to bring positiveness despite the adversities. I try to enjoy every single challenge, and to share - and help others - as well to do so. Not always easy, but when you learn how to do it, you will see that achieving your goals can be a joyful journey despite the hardships.” 

Beyond material resources

“Prosperity is often associated with the number of resources one can have, especially with wealth (for people, cities, countries). I was born and raised in a country where people don’t have access to many basic resources and their basic needs are still unsatisfied. One could say that Belgium, for instance, is more prosperous than many other places in the world. True. But for me, prosperity goes beyond material resources. It involves how to fulfil what you think you are (and can be) in your environment and circumstances. And this comes with your own family, realisations in your career choices (if you ever decided to have one) or with the fact that you feel happy as you are.” 

Run the extra mile

“I feel prosperous at the moment. I am very happy to have the opportunity to belong to a very nice family, and to have the immense fortune to count with them all the time. Also, because we are all healthy, and living the life we have chosen. On top of this, I have the opportunity to be part of a very nice and interesting university (and research team) where every day I feel challenged to run the extra mile, to explore and develop my potentials and to become a better version of myself. In my specific research field (social entrepreneurship), I feel that I can contribute, through my work, to connect many people to receive support and be more ‘prosperous’ in their life and with their project, which at the end are solving many of the most pressing societal issues of our world.” 

I always connect my empathy with what I do

“Doing research on social entrepreneurship is fascinating. I investigate how ecosystems support social entrepreneurs to achieve their goals. And their goals are often socially-environmentally oriented. Thus, I always connect my empathy with what I do. And empathy is important to understand the problems social entrepreneurs thrive to solve, to see beyond their eyes what is missing and also to understand the context in which they operate. Certainly, if you are empathetic to their reality and their ambitions, you can further see what can be done to connect them with other like-minded entrepreneurs, supportive actors and with the community, so they can achieve greater results for the benefit of our society.” 

Joined forces between universities worldwide 

“Currently, we are working on a project called ELANET (The European and Latin American Network in Support of Social Entrepreneurs). This project, funded by the EU Commission through the Erasmus + Capacity Building program, aims at developing a platform in support of social entrepreneurs. I think this project, beyond its objective, has a clear connection between our research and the world. We are connecting the capacities of several universities in Europe and Latin America to mobilise their resources, knowledge and capabilities, to help social entrepreneurs around them, and therefore connecting the university to the real social issues around their communities. I hope with this project, many universities (beyond the consortium) can also join forces to strengthen this network and overall to support many more social entrepreneurs.” 

A fruitful corona year 

“In my case, this corona year has been very fruitful in terms of research. I was able to work more intensively on my PhD. I had concluded (before the corona crisis) all my data and I needed to write some of the chapters for my dissertation. Staying at home all the time was very useful to be focused, for developing the ideas and writing everything down. I was confronted also with many challenges (especially the social distancing) but I was able to go through this by creating many moments of e-social connections with friends, family abroad and colleagues. When I look back, I think there were so many positive things about this crisis, that helped us personally to prove ourselves in so many ways. We learned also many things, digitally, that allowed us to rethink many of our plans and activities for the future, especially at universities.” 

Opportunities for the future 

“I had defended my PhD in March and I hope very soon I will be able to also defend my PhD in public. After that, I am looking forward to finding some opportunities that would help me to continue with my academic career, but also in combination with connections to society. Personally, I look forward (as many others) to see this crisis as part of our past, and to be able to hug our family and friends as we were used to it. How could we have imagined, in these times, it could become a luxury.” 

Would you like to find your purpose as well and fight injustice? Then take a look at The World Needs You under Prosperity.