Percentage of youth who said they want their government to be more open. Source: Global Opening Government Survey
In 1935, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, a 26-year-old Indian physicist, challenged conventional wisdom by proposing a radical theory that would prove the existence of black holes. He presented his idea to the Royal Astronomical Society in the United Kingdom, whose members had a hard time believing his evidence.
Students in a technical education program supported by the World Bank in Antioquia, Colombia.
I spoke about how the World Bank engages with youth, the largest demographic in the world right now. In an auditorium at the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington, D.C., young professionals, recent graduates, and college students were eager to find out how the Bank is helping and working with them. As a young person from a developing country, I could relate to their challenges and frustrations.
This week, I had the opportunity to discuss the rise of citizen participation in Morocco with Tarik Nesh-Nash. If the name means nothing to you, it’s time to discover the man behind it!
Tarik is 34 years old. He’s a computer engineer and is acutely aware of politics in his country. Youth, skills, and an understanding of the issues: Combine ingredients, mix well, and finish off with a generous dash of inventiveness. What you have is a young social innovator ready to revolutionize the role of citizens in his country.
Early 2011. The first buds of the Arab spring are about to bloom. The Moroccan people take to the streets to denounce social injustice, unemployment, and corruption and call for a genuine constitutional monarchy. In March, King Mohamed VI announces the launch of constitutional reforms. Several days later, Tarik launches Reforme.ma, a participatory platform he co-founded with another young computer engineer, Mehdi Slaoui Andaloussi. The platform will enable thousands of Moroccans to contribute to drafting the new constitution.
Last week, on my way home from work, I met a young man raising funds for a charity. He stood outside of a subway station and as part of his pitch, he asked, "if you could have any superpower, what would it be?" I offered the same answer I have been giving my children for years. "I have a superpower. It's reading." I suspect this both annoys and inspires my children. Given that annoying and inspiring are among my favorite parental duties, I rather like this answer.
Since then, a few things have happened that are making me want to revise my response to that young man.
Today, 43% of the world’s population is 25 years old or younger. This young group is impatient and ready to change the world. Change for this generation “has everything to do with people and very little to do with political ideology,” according to a new global survey, Millennials: The Challenger Generation, by Havas Worldwide, a future-focused global ideas agency. Some 70% of young people believe that social media is a force for change, says the survey.
These five examples from around the world show how youth used technology, social media and the Internet to make a difference recently.
Last week, I was fortunate enough to have a discussion with Stéphane Buthaud, the founder of HumanoGames, which is a video game company whose mission is to “change lives.” Mission accomplished.
Thanks to the game HappyLife, launched just one year ago, Facebook users can provide financial backing for the projects of small entrepreneurs all over the world.
This is how it works: Each player creates his or her own micro-business in the virtual world of HappyLife and re-invests the profits to help an entrepreneur get started in business in real life.
“A Project for Solidarity on a Global Scale”
Nothing in Stéphane’s background pre-ordained him to become a creator of games for the Web. After engineering studies and a Masters degree in International Business, he gained solid experience working for a number of NGOs on micro-finance projects; first in Bosnia, then Rwanda, China, Argentina, etc. Until the day he decided to found his own social enterprise.
What made him decide to create a game on Facebook? “It was the best possible way to foster solidarity and rally a community without borders around a common objective. I wanted to develop a solidarity project with a global reach, to help people who come up with projects, but who lack the means to get started,” Stéphane explains.
Really? A game on Facebook that could help in the fight against poverty…?
The subject of innovation is slowly but surely on the rise; as nations realizing the steady shift from resource to the inevitable knowledge based global economy demand high speed innovation to stay ahead of the competition. From Japan to Colombia, Washington DC to Bulawayo - politicians are emphasizing retooling education for innovation.
When you think fashion, the last thing you would imagine is a person wearing the same dress over and over and over again – for a whole year. Yet, that is what Sheena Matheiken, founder of the Uniform Project did. She pledged to wear one little black dress for 365 days to promote sustainability, and raise funds for the Akanksha Foundation – a non-profit organization providing education to children living in Indian slums.