Building a global ecosystem for social change

Building a global ecosystem for social change

October was unofficially young social entrepreneurship month.

All over the world the power of young changemakers was recognised, celebrating dynamic young talent working to change the world.

Our global partner, the International Youth Foundation (IYF), and their brilliant team in Costa Rica recently hosted 20 of the best and brightest young changemakers from around the world. I was thrilled to spend a week with them as part of IYF’s Youth Action Net (YAN) Global Laureate Fellows program – a network over 14,000 people strong which allows fellows to explore leadership potential and connect with likeminded peers.

Many FYA alumni have been fortunate to be recognised as Global Fellows with past participants including Marita Cheng, Lachy Ritchie, Lucinda Hartley, Freeman Trebilcock, and Bridie Ritchie to name just a few!

This year, Jordan O’Reilly, co-founder of Hireup and part of the 2013 Young Social Pioneers cohort was chosen to be 1 of only 3 entrepreneurs to be invited to pitch on the final night. The response to his pitch and initiative was electric.

Connecting with a tribe of likeminded thinkers in the global community is a powerful thing. It allows entrepreneurs to identify potential opportunities, to pool knowledge, learn and grow from each other. As part of an innovation ecosystem as we like to call it, entrepreneurs possesses a vast resource to expand potential for impact and ensure that their ideas continue to be challenged and relevant.

Our 2016 Young Social Pioneers made ‘collaboration is key’ their mantra – working together and learning from their diverse experiences to achieve better results and outcomes.

One pair of anti-waste warriors took this to the next level – joining forces and combining their initiatives after recognising that their goal was the same. Electrical engineer, Nada Kalam and designer, Carmen Famularo had been selected for the Sustainability and Environment streams respectively, both with projects aiming to minimise the amount of waste produced by urban living. Identifying their increased potential through combined efforts, Nada and Carmen took it upon themselves to co-pitch and unite in asking the question “How can we make better use of our waste?” I can’t wait to see what amazing things they achieve together.

After four months of intensive training, mentoring and venture development this year’s 60 participants have come to the end of YSP – with the Pitch-Up winners chosen from an incredibly high calibre group and adding to the youth entrepreneurship celebration in October. These inspiring young people have now joined FYA’s community of over 200 globally connected, exceptional entrepreneurs, creators, doers and innovators.

At FYA we are working to expand this youth entrepreneurship ecosystem (Australia’s largest) and those working alongside them to contribute and lead change across the globe in the form of our still relatively new social enterprise, YLAB. A youth-led social solutions incubator and global educator that will curate a world class learning experience for professionals that work with young people – YLAB brings fresh perspective to public policy, business and social sector issues.

We’ve just selected our first 50 YLAB Associates to be trained as consultants and project managers ready to contribute and lead youth engagement projects across the country. YLab Associate certification delivers a year of training and access to paid work and invaluable, on-the-job experiences through YLab, FYA and a range of other partners. Watch this space in 2017 because there’s more to come.

Seeing young entrepreneurs recognised for the incredible resource for resolving global social and economic challenges that they are, is not only pleasing but motivating.

I have spent decades working with children and young people. I have never encountered so many with the heart to make the world a fairer, more equitable or more inclusive place as I have in this current age. Which is no doubt why they are being referred to as Generation Compassion.

We need fresh ideas and new thinking to create a strong future. By connecting these changemakers on not on a local level but also a global platform our potential for challenging the status quo, addressing the socio-economic inequalities and building a world that future generations want to live in.

Jan Owen is the CEO of the Foundation for Young Australians and a pioneer of the youth sector in Australia.

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