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Hustlenomics: There’s lots more to hustling than making money

By XN Iraki | September 27th 2017

Hustlers are known for doing all they can to make ends meet. For most of them, life is a long struggle. From the rising of the sun to its going down, they must work.

They are rarely assured of their daily bread. Some are lucky and make a surplus after taking care of their basic needs. Others borrow.

Key policymakers and leaders in this country are not hustlers and may have never been hustlers to understand the plight of the young men and women who make up the majority of people in business.

For hawkers, porters and water vendors, life is not easy.

They have no certainty of a salary, no pension, no collateral for loans and no one to bail them out financially or otherwise.

Traditionally, we tend to think of hustling as being just about money, but it’s about more than that. Lots of hustlers hustle softly without money.

They are the social hustlers – better called social entrepreneurs. They help society in kind, not cash. This is the most forgotten aspect of hustling. They give to society their only available resource: time.

Think of the woman who helped you cook for your guests. She probably was there all day. If you were to pay for all her services, you probably wouldn’t be able to afford her.

Think of the woman who was by your side when you were grieving. Think of the one who accompanied you to dowry negotiations or a baby shower. Think of the person you call on when you’re bored just to raise your spirits. Think of the friends who visit you to take away the ghost of loneliness.

These are social entrepreneurs.

Men are also social entrepreneurs, but women beat them hands down because men’s social entrepreneurship is more cash based – buying each other drinks, giving soft loans and appearing only when there is a big occasion involving money.

Men are socialised to think big. They meet, not to give each other support, but to strategise on how to make money. Their behaviour is often strange. A man will buy a complete stranger beer, but not food. 

Social entrepreneurship

Men do contribute to social causes, but they prefer to give money, not their time. They will send contributions to harambees, weddings, dowry ceremonies or funerals. Suppose we all sent our contributions in cash?

Interestingly, non-hustlers – the affluent - have a lot time for social entrepreneurship. They do so through contributions to charities, contributing to endowment funds, scholarships, and creating time for their friends and relatives. 

Social entrepreneurship humanises us. It makes us understand that our destinies are intertwined. Whether poor or affluent, we all need a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on. Contributing your time sometimes has a bigger effect than contributing money. It touches lives and emotions.

Time, the currency of social entrepreneurship, means the same thing to hustlers as to non-hustlers. While we are all fixated on money, social entrepreneurship could be a more fulfilling alternative; one likely to give us meaning and purposefulness, which are missing in a sea of abundance. 

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