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The Power of Context

Portrait of Sondos Abdelgawad, Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at IE Business School

Entrepreneurship Professor

IE Business School

Top 3 Takeaways

  1. Structural Inequities: Entrepreneurship cannot be discussed without acknowledging structural inequities. These societal barriers, such as the U.S. Muslim ban or the disparity in venture capital allocation, pose significant challenges to underrepresented groups.

  2. Embrace a Long-Term Mindset: Prioritizing virtues like patience and forgiveness can have lasting benefits in entrepreneurship and CSR initiatives. This requires shifting focus from short-term gains to sustainable success.

  3. Quality Information: In our digital age, discernment in information consumption is essential. The ability to effectively process, filter, and digest high-quality information is as critical as having a balanced diet for physical health.


Navigating the unpredictable waters of entrepreneurship requires a deep understanding of the mechanisms and causality of change, something in which Professor Sondos Abdelgawad, a researcher in entrepreneurship, excels. Devoted to underrepresented social actors, Sondos provides unique insight into the entrepreneurial community, bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical applications.

Impact of Structural Inequities on Entrepreneurship

Discussing entrepreneurship without considering structural inequities and their impact on entrepreneurial ventures is impossible. Citing a real-life example, Sondos recounts the story of a founder affected by the Muslim ban in the U.S. This entrepreneur's journey serves as a stark reminder that politically motivated actions can have far-reaching consequences, particularly for underrepresented groups.

Data supports this anecdote: a Harvard Business Review study found that in 2020, less than 3% of venture capital in the U.S. went to women (Bittner & Lau, 2021). These disparities aren't just statistics; they represent very real barriers for many aspiring entrepreneurs.

Long-Term Mindset

Sondos stresses the importance of virtues like patience and forgiveness, particularly in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) applications in a world increasingly driven by short-term gains. Her research shows that these virtues can produce lasting benefits.

A study published in the Journal of Business Ethics found that CSR initiatives contribute positively to customers’ loyalty through identification and emotions over the long term (Pérez & Rodríguez del Bosque, 2014). However, a focus on CSR benefits to the bottom line may inadvertently prioritize short-term thinking, leading to detrimental consequences.

Response over Reaction

The entrepreneurial journey can be pressure-filled. How we respond can make all the difference. Sondos shares a personal experience to illustrate this. When a student doubted her role as a professor, she chose empathy over defensiveness. She encourages others to do the same, emphasizing that practicing mindful responses improves our resilience.

Choosing Quality over Quantity

With the rise of digital information, Sondos stresses the importance of discernment. Just as a balanced diet is essential for physical health, varied and high-quality information is crucial for mental well-being.

Sondos commends organizations like the Center for Humane Technology that promote conscious information consumption. She asserts that it's vital for educational institutions to pivot from simply disseminating information to fostering abilities to process, filter, and digest information effectively.

Time for a Mindset Shift

In a world where quick fixes and short-term gains are often prioritized, Sondos Abdelgawad reminds us of the importance of a long-term mindset, empathy, and a balanced information diet. As we navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship, she would have us remember these lessons, shifting our focus from quick wins to sustainable success.

If you want to dive deeper into the intricacies of entrepreneurship, consider subscribing to our newsletter for regular insights and discussions. Empower yourself with knowledge and navigate your entrepreneurial journey with confidence.


Bittner, A., & Lau, B. (2021, September 17). Women-led startups received just 2.3% of VC funding in 2020.

Harvard Business Review.

Pérez, A., & Rodríguez del Bosque, I. (2014). An integrative framework to understand how CSR affects

customer loyalty through identification, emotions and satisfaction. Journal of Business Ethics, 129(3), 571–584.


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