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O Globo Bill Drayton
Source: O Globo Bill Drayton

Bill Drayton: “Young People Must Have the Ability to Change Their Reality”

This article originally appeared on O Globo

Rio, Brazil - Bill Drayton, founder of Ashoka, an American organization that supports social leaders in the world, calls for young people to be entrepreneurs in order to promote social and economic changes. He believes this is what is needed to tackle what he calls the “new inequality." He believes that young people in Brazil, as elsewhere — who are ready to create solutions for the problems they identify in their schools, families, and communities — will find their place in the job market, thus breaking barriers that keep growing.

Can social entrepreneurship boost the economy?

Yes, it creates a social impact. Nowadays, the most important skill is the ability to be a changemaker, regardless of the kind of work you are doing. Understand a problem, think about a solution, form a team, and promote the change one wants to see. Why is the income distribution getting worse? Because we are witnessing the rise of an “us against them” mentality. The old way of working is not effective anymore. We have those who rule, and those who do not rule this new game. Numerous social and economic issues arise from the fact that people are staying out of this game. There will be no demand for their services anymore. The companies that do not change will also disappear. All of these facts worsen income distribution. There is a new inequality.

How can we help those who are outside of the game?

What is said to those who are outside the game is, “We do not need you. Your kids will not have a future either.” Those who hear this are depressed and filled with hatred. This only promotes hate speech.  Also, it divides society into two categories: those who are well off, and those who are out of the game. Social entrepreneurs are addressing this new form of inequality. Therefore, young people need to develop new skills. It is not possible to address the current issues we face  only by preparing people for a regular job.

Should it be done early?

Each young person must know that she or he is a changemaker, and work on their ability to change their reality. When someone has been innovating idea early in life, they are three times more likely to end up in a position of high leadership position, and four times more likely to become an entrepreneur. This is a conservative estimate and can be doubled. If you are the head of a company in Sao Paulo, but the city does not have an education system that provides young people with these skills, how will the workforce be as qualified in the future?

What does Ashoka do? Are children in who are in challenging situations its main focus?

We work with children in challenging situations, but we focus on everyone. This weekend, we are launching a selectio panel Ashoka Young Changemakers in Brazil. We will select ten young people, from 13 to 20 years old, to join a global network of social entrepreneurs. Not so long ago, a 12-year-old girl told me that she used to cry at school when her brother, who is autistic, would be bullied there. She gathered students to discuss the issue and they found a solution. She changed the way students interacted with those who have disabilities.  She will not stop. In ten or twenty years, she will make a big social impact.

Can companies stimulate this process?

Employers need to understand that, if they want their company to have a future, they must help their employees. Schools, universities, and other entities can do it too. A change among children ultimately transforms adults. They will start new businesses and help already-existing companies because they understand the dynamics, they see changes, and they always move forward.

Unemployment is rising in Brazil, especially among young people.

This is because wages are increasing at the top, where people rule the new game, and they are decreasing at the bottom. At the top, there is no issue regarding unemployment. How will it be in the future, if only 5 to 10 percent of the population is able to act in an environment that calls for more interaction and is constantly changing?

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