Social business startups from around the world will have access to a new funding program launched at the One Young World Summit in Pittsburgh this week.
Three social enterprises were selected as the first beneficiaries of the Accelerator, and each will receive a 20,000 Euro (about $26,000) low-interest loan. Villageboom, one of those selected, creates employment opportunities for rural villages in developing countries, and is introducing a microbusiness model based on a solar light to replace kerosene lamps, which local people are encouraged to adopt.
In addition, Accelerator grants, ranging from €500 ($650) to €2,000 ($2,600) were given to a number of One Young World returning Ambassadors. The first round of grants will fund efforts to help homeless people, an urban farming initiative, a youth sports skills program, water-conserving toilets and recycling initiatives.
“Many of the problems that you see are actually very simple – and if you can find one simple way how to make it happen, you can change the world,” said Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
“We have so much potential and creativity here today to find these solutions," Yunus said. "If we all worked together, the world’s problems would disappear.”
Other Day 1 highlights included:
• Pete Cashmore, founder and CEO of Mashable, and journalist and activist, Fatima Bhutto, discussed the role of education and the importance of working to increase literacy levels around the world. The delegates challenged each other to get out in their own communities and take action. One delegate, Sujit Ialwani, India, said, “It’s great to be alive as a human being, but it’s great to die as doing.”
• Jamie Oliver, chef and founder of the Food Revolution, led a panel discussion about the global obesity and malnutrition epidemic. Oliver reinforced the importance of working within school systems to increase education about healthy eating and cooking. He challenged the One Young World delegates to surprise him by coming up with plans to further their own local food revolutions.
• Jack Dorsey, creator of Twitter and Square, Bob Geldof, KBE and Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, participated in the Transparency and Integrity Plenary Session. Dorsey stressed the urgent need for transparency in business and in politics, adding that Twitter and Square were both built entirely on the foundation of transparency.
• Paul Polman, Global CEO of Unilever, one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies, discussed the importance of corporate social responsibility. He said that, “big does not mean bad,” challenging delegates to help think of a better way for business to do business. “We want to drive positive social change,” he said. “And youth doesn’t always get the seat at the table that they deserve.”
• Singer and songwriter Joss Stone – who began her career at the age of 14 – also spoke to the delegates about motivation and inspiration, drawing from her own experience. “As today’s young people, we must make sure the fire is burning as brightly as we can,” she said. “If you aren’t heard the first time, speak a little louder – refuse to be ignored.”
At the 2012 Summit young leaders from 182 countries have been sharing their vision, views and ideas to create practical and achievable commitments for positive change.
Unlike any other event, One Young World Summit gives delegates the kind of media platform afforded ordinarily only to those who lead countries and corporations.
Delegates speak alongside global figures who this year included former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Bob Geldof KBE, Professor Muhammad Yunus, Kofi Annan, Jamie Oliver, Pete Cashmore and Fatima Bhutto many others.
The seven areas of focus for the 2012 Summit are:
• Global Business
• Human Rights
• Leadership & Governance
• Sustainable Development
• Transparency & Integrity
Following the Summit, One Young World Ambassadors will deliver positive outcomes in these areas in their countries and communities and, using the lasting connections One Young World enables them to maintain, on a global scale.
For more information about One Young World go to www.oneyoungworld.com.