Think of millennials and you will probably envision young people sitting around playing video games, lazily completing their studies and dreaming about the day they start up the next Microsoft from their bedroom.
Actually, many of us inside this age bracket have become bored of these stereotypes and it is becoming more and more accepted that young people in the ‘Millennial’ demographic have much more of a social conscience and a passion for changing the world around them.
I take a look at the business world and notice a growing number of young people starting businesses and a growing number of young people expressing an interest in starting a business, from a very early age.
Deloitte’s recent Millennial Survey 2017 highlighted that young people are actually seeking stability and opportunities in a world which is far from stable. Those in this age bracket are not confident about their countries’ futures and may actually prefer the stability of a regular job, Deloitte suggests.
I disagree and I have good reason why. In my travels and development work across the past year I have spotted a number of young people from all corners of the world taking matters into their own hands. They cannot find a job which matches their desire to do good with the type of work they want to do, so instead of complaining, they create their own jobs.
Mariam Adil moved from Pakistan to Washington D.C. to take her University studies and pursued a career in international development. This was much to the surprise of those around her, who hoped she would follow the norms for someone in her position. She has defied so many norms. She is a woman in tech, running a startup in Pakistan (GRID) remotely from the USA, which employs a team of people designing games which impact social change. One of her most high profile projects which was a game demystifying and educating around menstrual health, helped her forge a partnership with UNICEF.
Mahmoud Al Hammouri from Jordan said he didn’t receive the support, holistic mentoring or life skills he needed when he was going through school to help him make the right choices and he didn’t want to see his peers get lost or end up leading an unfulfilled life. He turned his unhappiness about this problem into a real life solution and created Gattaa, a digital platform which enables students to access peer-peer mentoring and he will be expanding it across the whole country next year.
Phillippe Rutaganza, a student at African Leadership University, was consistently receiving rejections for opportunities he applied for in his home country of Rwanda. He saw the promise in African youth and decided he would put in place a system to help young people navigate youth opportunities and help them with their applications. Opportunity Plate is his social innovation, a platform which provides opportunities and mentoring support to young people.
Isn’t it amazing to think that all of these young people are under 30 years old and have not only taken matters into their own hands, they’re passing on their skills to their peers and lifting their communities toward social good. In the EU, statistics claim that the majority of young people looking to set up in business want to start a social enterprise - a business which combines its profits with doing good in society. More and more support is becoming available from multilateral grants, competitions, online mentoring and even dedicated VC funds supporting such ventures. We are seeing a shift from the now generation who are breaking the rules of business and giving back just as much as they receive. Business can and should do good and our youth are the ones who are the best role models for that.