Advocating Youth Empowerment for Global Social Impact



Posted by steven on Feb. 17, 2017

This article is written by Global Good Fund Intern Halle Aberhm, a member of our 2016 Intern Program, which provides hands-on, real-world experience in social entrepreneurship and nonprofit management for college students.

For more information about The Global Good Fund’s Intern Program and to support the 2017 class, please contact Danny Meyer at daniel.meyer@globalgoodfund.org.

Advocating Youth Empowerment for Global Social Impact

I have always had a huge amount of faith in young people. I’m 19 years old, and I find the ambition, coachability, and adaptation of my peers and young leaders to be tremendously valuable.

I find that young people also have foresight: we are aware that the world’s economic landscape will soon be largely comprised of automation and globalization. We know that we will be the largest stakeholders of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. But we are also hopeful, sometimes because we have no other choice.

That being said, young people typically haven’t been given the required agency and guidance to solve the world’s toughest problems and be the change-agents we could potentially be. In order to properly empower young people, world leaders must fight to dismantle ageist systems, practices, and leadership representation.

How can young people realize our potential to be change agents if no one is willing to take the leap of faith and value our word, our work, and our potential enough to invest in us?

Enter The Global Good Fund.

When I first learned that The Global Good Fund’s mission is to accelerate the growth of high potential young leaders in social entrepreneurship through coaching, mentorship, and human development, I thought I found an answer to the above questions. The Global Good Fund, as a leadership development enterprise that is now experimenting with its own impact investment vehicle, can function as a model for how world leaders — individuals, businesses, banks, and governments — should be mobilizing behind young people who are committed to making an impact.

In my junior year of high school, I interned with The Global Good Fund and saw first hand that The Global Good Fund actualizes its broader mission of empowering young people even on its team, as I developed my own internship leadership development plan and was given decision-making power. Now, two years later, I am interning with the Global Good Fund again, and hope to volunteer throughout the year.

In June, I was given the opportunity to represent The Global Good Fund at the World Bank Group’s Global Youth Forum. There I learned the most important tenets of empowering the next generation of leaders, and again I’m pleased that The Global Good Fund is already at the forefront of this work:

Lesson 1 – To combat inequity, the first step is ascribing value to–and thereby empowering–those who experience inequality first-hand.

As a young American — and particularly as a first generation child of Eritrean refugees — I have always felt cognizant of the presence of injustice, inequity, and violence in the world. The fact that our current global system ascribes value to certain lives and not to others is largely uncontested.

Given the culture of violence that results from people’s dehumanization based on race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and beyond, the question remains: how do we reverse this culture of violence and restore value in oppressed people

In my opinion, the way to go about fixing this problem is to do exactly what The Global Good Fund does: commit to accelerating the growth of leaders affected by injustice who know their community and their community’s issues. To get behind a change-maker and invest human development and capital demonstrates that you see value.

Lesson 2 – “Young people are change agents but not always free agents.”

When Jo Boyden, director of Young Lives, made this statement, she affirmed for me that young people are equipped with the creativity, innovation, and adaptive attitudes to make a change in the world, but many young people are not given the power necessary to actualize our potential.

Youth unemployment is at an all time high around the world. World leaders need to step in and not only permit youth entrepreneurship, but actively recruit, legitimize, and develop young entrepreneurs. If we stand behind entrepreneurs from all communities — especially underprivileged ones — we can and will multiply their impact. I’m proud that The Global Good fund supports entrepreneurs from communities around the world, empowering young people to be change agents and free agents.

Lesson 3 – “Human development is at the core of development.”

The Global Good Fund’s philosophy is that when we develop and empower leaders, we ultimately develop and empower communities. Development organizations should focus on empowering community members because there is no one who knows a place and the people’s struggle better than those who experience it.

Developing humankind starts with the individual. When an individual steps up to solve his or her community’s issues, but isn’t equipped to pitch the enterprise’s idea, to navigate his or her particular industry, to market his or her product effectively — essentially, if the individual lacks the leadership skills required to deliver on the project — the initiative is useless. Identifying leaders and then developing their human capital to the point that they can make a difference is development work.

At the Global Youth Forum, I realized that large institutions like the World Bank Group and the United Nations are starting to form coalitions, partnerships, and initiatives to do what The Global Good Fund has been doing from the beginning – to advocate for youth empowerment, to demonstrate how market based approaches can solve deeply permeating social issues, and above all, to support leaders around the world in their entrepreneurship endeavors.

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I have to work for such an incredibly tactful and compassionate organization. In my own small way, I feel that I am empowering, uplifting, and developing, too.

Connect with Halle on Linkedin.