It has become increasingly clear that the world needs a new kind of leader to react to the monumental challenges the world faces today. We need an immediate collaborative effort to help the world not only recover from the devastating health and economic effects of COVID-19 but also act to address the climate-change crisis and rising inequality, among other threats.
The good news is that that kind of leaders already exists in communities around the world. For more than 20 years, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship has recognized social innovators as a new breed of leader – values-driven, inclusive, compassionate, entrepreneurial individuals who develop sustainable new models in business, social development and environmental initiatives. The foundation includes around 400 social innovators, who have already created an impact on the lives of 622 million people in over 190 countries.
They offer six important lesson that can inspire collaborative, sustainable change from the ground-up.
1. Empower those you work with
Social innovators believe in lifting up those they serve and work with. Whether in townships of South Africa, villages in rural India or the busy metropolitan cities of the United States, social innovators empower those around them to fulfil their own needs along with the needs of their communities.
For instance, in South Africa, Luvuyo Rani, co-founder of Silulo Ulutho Technologies, teaches coding to unemployed youth in his native township of Khayelitsha, South Africa. What started as a computer repair service and an Internet café 12 years ago now provides computer training to 4,000 people a year.
Today Silulo is a household name in the township and known for empowering residents through convenient and affordable access to technology. Every year 1,000 students graduate from Silulo’s SETA certified training programs - 60% of whom were unemployed when they start. They have gone on to work as call centre operators, IT sales representatives and Silulo employees.