This profile was prepared when Sunit Shrestha was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
In Thailand and the wider region of Asia, where young people are deterred from social sector professions, Sunit has developed mechanisms to support the launch and growth of youth-led social enterprises. His organization, ChangeFusion, provides integrated support for social enterprises, which are inaccessible to young people in this part of the world. In building a long-term foundation to support social enterprises, Sunit also advocates institutional changes through government policy and in the business sector. Sunit has created a regionwide community of youth-led social enterprises. Generally isolated within their respective fields of work and individual countries, these social enterprises can link with one another as well as with professional mentors and potential funders. Community activities, strengthened by active online presence, also sensitize the media and the wider public to the idea of youth-led social enterprises.Since young people interested in social enterprises often lack access to capital, ChangeFusion serves as a rare intermediary with funders. In so doing, youth-led social enterprises can overcome logistical barriers in financing and, at the same time, increase their credibility. Through Sunit s efforts, certain Thai government agencies have entered into contracts with youth-led social enterprises. Sunit has also managed to procure funding commitments from many organizations that have previously been reluctant to support start-up youth-led social enterprises.To make social enterprise a mainstream component of the economy, Sunit is working with the Stock Exchange of Thailand and relevant government officials to design new and attractive mechanisms for socially responsible investment. He also partners with policymakers and citizen organizations (COs) to advocate on behalf of youth-led social enterprises on specific social issues. Sunit is expanding his work both in the form of hands-on support for more social enterprises, and in the form of wider regional and global collaborations with socially responsible investment markets.