While many of us are simply worrying about the challenges ahead, young people are already developing innovative ways to solve them. Whether it’s spiraling unemployment, air and water pollution, or lack of financial services, this younger generation uses their entrepreneurial mindsets, creative imaginations, and aptitude for technology to promote new strategies for change.
Making sure that those at the bottom of the economic ladder have the resources they need to improve their lives – and even climb out of poverty — is currently the goal of 26-year-old Taufan Putra. He quit his comfortable job at IBM to devote his time providing affordable financial services to low-income families living in remote rural areas of Indonesia – most of whom live on less than $2 a day. So far, through his organization Amartha Microfinance, he has provided average loans of US$100 to over 3,000 women across the country to help them support their families. “I strongly believe that consistent, systematic and collaborative efforts of all stakeholders will bring poverty alleviation programs to a new level, where we can uplift people out of poverty through empowerment instead of charity” says Putra. In Guatemala, Ruth Degola follows this same mantra. In 2004, at the age of 21, she and Benita Singh co-founded Mercado Global, an organization that links indigenous artisans in rural Guatemalan communities to sales opportunities abroad. The artists have increased their income three-fold through the production of hand-made high-fashion purses and accessories and are now able to send their children to school and enjoy greater financial stability. Said Degola at a recent Clinton Global Initiative interview: “These women are fighters. They are amazing artisans. All they needed was a market.”