At our packed Can Do Places & Spaces event ‘Collaborate or Perish’ in January 2015, we were joined by Ernesto Sirolli.

Ernesto is the founder of the Sirolli Institute, the global authority on bottom-up economic development. Ernesto is not your man for benchmarking, key performance indicators or other metrics of what he calls “the dismal science” (economics) as this extract from his powerful speech to our audience of community activists, centre managers and many others shows.

“Earlier today, one of you asked: How do you engage people with no hope? In areas crippled by abject poverty, where the residents are reliant on food banks, for instance? What we’ve discovered over the past 30 years is that, even in the poorest places in the world, you will find people with ideas and the passion to get them off the ground.

Each of us is a bundle of unbound potential, according to psychologists. Abraham Maslow said that everybody has a wish to improve themselves – to grow, to blossom into something better. Your communities are full of people who want to do something for themselves.

With the death of fossil fuels, in a world of seven billion people, there is a bigger need for entrepreneurs than ever before. You could say that we’re on the cusp of a new Victorian era: An Industrial Revolution for the 21st century, where green technology dictates how we will live our lives for next century and beyond. With this in mind, the requests of entrepreneurs within our communities must be prioritised.

If you want to be part of this new entrepreneurial revolution you’ll need some tools. The aim is to create places where people can come if they have a dream. So what do you do? You have to set up ‘dream catchers’.

Governments and local councils can create strategies for entrepreneurs to succeed – but they cannot create entrepreneurs.”

Find out more about the Ernesto Sirolli Institute at