The Economy of Francesco

young people, a pact, the future

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young people, a pact, the future

international events

September 22-24 2022, - Assisi

September 22-24 2022, Assisi

"The Economy of Francesco"

young people, a pact, the future

Breaking news:

published today the letter with which Pope Francis summons young economists and entrepreneurs to Assisi to propose a pact for a new economy. Economy of Communion participates in the organizing committee of the event together with the Diocese and the Municipality of Assisi and the Seraphic Institute.

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#EoF - Elizabeth and ethical business for Big America

#EoF: the stories - Elizabeth Garlow is one of the participants in the Economy of Francesco. With the 'Francesco Collaborative' project, she promotes a solidarity-based approach to business management through workshops and seminars.

by Angela Napoletano

published in Avvenire on 15/01/2022

Born in Detroit, citizen of the world, expert in the economics of belonging. That’s how Elizabeth Garlow, 36, introduces herself. She studied Spanish, Political Science and Economics at Kalamazoo College in Michigan, which since 2012 has been included in the prestigious US guide to 'Colleges That Change Lives'. She has had many relevant experiences, including advising the White House during Barack Obama's presidency on the 'Promise Zones' initiative against poverty and unemployment. However, the ones that have transformed her more than any other are: the birth of Sofia, her little daughter born to her a few months ago, and her meeting with the Economy of Francesco community.

Joining the network of young entrepreneurs and academics who, at the urging of Pope Francis, are researching possible solutions for a more sustainable economy that cares for the least cared-for, she says, “has completely turned my life upside down because it changed the trajectory that links relationships to work”. Just like motherhood. For Elizabeth, born and raised in a Catholic family, the issues that bring religion and finance (and vice versa) together are far from being unfamiliar. She has been exploring them since years ago when she got to know the international Focolare movement, the 'people born of the Gospel' founded by Chiara Lubich in 1943. She dedicated her degree thesis to the so-called Economy of Communion, an initiative that for thirty years has engaged the focolarini in projects of entrepreneurship and social justice all over the world. An experience, she explains, “that convinced me to continue studying and working on what links faith and spiritual traditions, particularly Catholic ones, to the moral principles of economics, an intersection in which policies and practices for a more just economy mature”. The letter announcing the launch of Economy of Francesco, she recalls, “arrived in the midst of a small prayer meeting among young American professionals interested in the economic applications of the teachings of the Catholic Church”.

The decision to participate was almost taken for granted. As a member of the virtual village dedicated to 'Finance and Humanity', the American new mother enthusiastically describes the analysis and discussion she has had over the past few months within the global EoF network and the importance of the debate that continues to this day. Before this experience, she explains, “I felt that my efforts in favour of the solidarity economy were a bit isolated”. This is no longer the case. "There is a support network,” she marks, “which makes a big difference”. On a personal and professional level. Perhaps the most tangible result of this path is the birth of the 'Francesco Collaborative', a project she directs together with investment expert Felipe Witchger, which through workshops and seminars promotes the ethical and solidarity-based approach to business management in the industrial fabric of North America. The public that the initiative is trying to reach, Elizabeth explains, is represented by 'frontier entrepreneurs', owners of companies who walk the line between the present and the future, and who are therefore more inclined to imagine new forms of progress. Human and economic progress. For individuals and communities. “We help them to understand how traditional business and management concepts can be revisited in a practical as well as theoretical way in the light of the call for a solidarity economy. We encourage them to share investment opportunities, to look at the decision-making process as a group". “It’s a huge challenge,” she admits. But one that she has no intention of shirking. “For the sake of my daughter”, she points out, and the future generations. “The currently dominant economic paradigm,” she explains, “can perpetuate inequalities and tear the social fabric apart. In this context, it is extremely difficult for everyone, not just a few, to do well”. But Elizabeth is optimistic: “change is possible”. As the experience of the Economy of Francis teaches us, “when you confront each other with authenticity and humility, you really can change the course of other people's lives, and achieve what you work for”.

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