As we gear up for social entrepreneurship week at YCI, we had a chat with Josh, our marketing and communications lead, about social enterprise and global youth development.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Josh Layton and I am one of the marketing and communications leads at YCI, a social entrepreneur with a design for social good company called LOOP, as well as a YCI gender innovator in Mwanza, Tanzania.
What is Social Entrepreneurship to you?
I believe that social entrepreneurship is the next-generation’s way of tackling capitalism and the ways that business interacts with the world. I think it is so exciting (and inspiring) that we’re at a stage where we can develop radical new products and services to tackle major global challenges, and also make a decent dime doing it. Traditionally, services aimed at advancing social missions have been carried out by non-profits and NGO’s, but recently, I think we’re waking up to the fact that the world’s evolving and traditional non-profit models are finding it difficult to survive. By weaving business acumen into the social missions of non-profits we’re given a more sustainable and impactful way to facilitate change on a much larger scale – and that is a really exciting prospect for the future.
Where were you introduced to the idea of social enterprise?
The concept of social entrepreneurship is still being figured out, but I think its presence is growing at home and around the world. I was introduced to the concept when helping a team from the London School of Economics on a presentation for the finals of a global student competition called the HULT Prize. Coined as the world’s largest student competition, the HULT prize pushes students to develop a viable business of scale to tackle a major global challenge every year. We collaborated with a project called SOKOTEXT, which aimed to transform how fresh food made to market in urban slums in East Africa by leveraging basic sms technology and traditional supply chains. With the SOKOTEXT system local residents in urban slums would be able to save up to 30% off the price of fresh produce, a level that would afford a much more diverse and nutritious diet for slum dwellers. Watching this idea, along with many others come to life, learning about how simple ideas addressing major challenges could potentially bring in and impact millions was truly inspiring, and has become an important driving force in my life.
Why is social enterprise such a powerful tool to advance global youth development?
I think social entrepreneurship is the next way forward for advancing youth livelihoods and development. I think we’re reaching ideal conditions for social entrepreneurs to bloom because there are so many unemployed youth at home and around the world who are eager to contribute but may not have the skills or resources to do so. There are also numerous social challenges to be faced. I think social entrepreneurship and funding of social entrepreneurship as a development tool creates a system that empowers youth, giving them responsibility to shape their own futures and those of their communities. It’s being seen the world over as well. Companies developing and selling solar lighting using innovative financing structures, companies finding new ways to produce and bring food to market, and increasingly mobile technologies that can be used to advance social causes. By investing in skills and resources of possible social entrepreneurs, we create solutions that are more sustainable and far reaching than traditional aid could ever be – because it’s within the passion and control of the people who need it most.
I’m proud to collaborate with an organization like YCI who see the potential in social entrepreneurship as a tool to improve the livelihoods of youth all over the world. Although it’s challenging, it’s important for young people to be introduced to the tools that can allow them to reach their potential, and the potential of their communities. Over the next few weeks we’ll be dedicating our blog and social media platforms to sharing stories of social entrepreneurship from our partners in the field, and from others around the world.
Check out our upcoming entrepreneurship projects in Tanzania here.