Shawn Smith is a young social entrepreneur innovating on a global canvas. Which is ironic since he is also my neighbour. One of last year's delights was to appear on a panel hosted by him in Oxford last spring, during the Skoll World Forum. He is co-founder and President of Global Agents for Change inspiring and financing youth-led innovative solutions to global poverty. He also helped found Education Generation a medium for linking donors directly with students developing countries needing financial assistance to compete their education. Since finishing his degree at Oxford he now teaches social entrepreneurship at Simon Fraser University. Here is Shawn's answer to: What would you like to become more visible in 2011? You can also Download Becoming Visible - the complete updated collection of 64 essays.
Harnessing UndergraduateBusiness for Social Innovation
I often question whether every generation feels that things are more critical now than ever, and perhaps more interestingly, if technological and economic acceleration means that each generation has generally been right in that notion. Whether we speak of financial, food, aid, educational, democratic or any number of other systems, the current generation is coming of age in a time when existing modes of operation simply aren't doing the job, and aren't proving robust enough to evolve with rapidly shifting realities. Where do we find the leaders that can
push the pace of this evolution, or build entirely new systems where needed?
Undergraduate business education, for better or worse, attracts huge numbers of future leaders at a time in their lives when their goals are crystallizing. Among this cohort, there is immense appetite, in my experience, for learning about social innovation and entrepreneurship. However, schools are struggling to expose students to anything significantly beyond "business as usual", let alone equip them to deal with these challenges. All business is by its nature social, and I believe there is immense power for change in markets. We have a group of emerging leaders facing an inflection point in their lives that should be learning how to harness that power.
While it may not have the immediacy of other solutions, there are few more potent and readily accessible leadership pipelines that I can identify. I'd be glad to hear from anyone else interested in or working on this issue!
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Please share and distribute to your friends and through your various networks, websites etc. I think you will agree – these are too good to keep to ourselves.