One Young World – reflections from Chicago

OYW stage

One Young World was an amazing experience that is most easily explained by noting the marquee speakers and household names that delegates have the pleasure of hearing from and even meeting face to face.  While there was a lot of great wisdom shared with us by luminaries, it was impossible to listen to any of our fellow delegates speak without being in awe of their passion and feeling inspired to learn more about the great work they are doing.  With 1300 delegates in attendance, I only met a handful, but I’d like to highlight a few of the inspiring projects being done by fellow delegates that we were fortunate to hear about. In particular, a few delegates served as great examples of how to leverage technology to create a broad impact:

Speaking on the topic of Transparency and Integrity, a delegate from Kenya spoke about the online platform she created in response to the 2007-2008 post-election violence that affected certain regions in her country.  Recognizing that a lack of easily accessible information on parties and politicians is a significant driver of political tension, she created a website, Givenumbers.com, that gives any Kenyan a place to post and research information on their leaders.  I was extremely impressed by her insight that by creating an open platform for the free sharing of information and ideas, she could strengthen democracy in her country in a fundamental way.  Not only did her innovative work impress me, her work also received very kind words from Jack Dorsey–a man who knows a thing or two about innovation as the founder of  Twitter and Square.

A delegate from India spoke about the importance of broadening access to digital literacy in developing countries.  Recognizing the sheer magnitude of the goal of achieving a high rate of digital literacy in his own country, he spoke about how essential it is for young people who are passionate about this cause to use social media and online tools as a means to connect with each other and coordinate their efforts.  Using this approach,  the delegate was able to help coordinate a network of organizations that implemented digital literacy courses that reached 15,000 families across a number of cities in India.  Even still, he saw the scale his work had achieved to date as a drop in the bucket  compared to what could be reached through further efforts to build networks of like-minded organizations across India and other developing countries.

These two examples are reflective of the great work being done by many of the delegates we met throughout the conference.  Both are indicative of the focus many delegates had on finding cost-effective ways to achieve scale and maximize the impact of the projects they were working on–whether they were full-time social entrepreneurs or professionals in the private sector who dedicate their skills to pro-bono projects, like those of us at Bain & Company.  Across the board, it was great to see the diverse set of creative and practical ways that people were approaching the problems they cared most about, and it has given me some new ideas for how I can make the work I do at Bain even more impactful.

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