Early last year, I got an interesting invitation to a meeting of young people in Makati City. Little did I know that meeting will jump start a whole new turning point for me.
It was the membership meeting of the Global Shapers Manila Hub – the youth community of the World Economic Forum.
It is a surreal feeling in itself to be among the Global Shapers. Not only have I heard of this community, but the Global Shapers group was a major influence with my advocacy for social enterprise. After seeing a video that showed how about 50% of the world’s population are comprised of young people under the age of 27, it affirmed for me that age is never a barrier to help make society better.
It is interesting to be in the same room with these changemakers. On one hand, you see their stellar accomplishments. But on the other hand, they’re also regular young people who love talking about the latest happenings and hanging out over a good round of coffee or beer.
But start asking them about their advocacies and endeavors, and they are set on fire.
Take Dr. Bryan Lim, 29, who kept enlightening us about the frustrations in the public health system. Alex Eduque, 23, of Habitat for Humanity will chime in about the on-the-ground challenges faced by relief workers post-Haiyan. Jen Horn, 28, of MUNI.com.ph will talk passionately about indigenous textiles and weaves for eco-fashion.
Being around them fuels my fire because I know I am not alone. The quest to build social enterprises that grow and scale to catalyze inclusive growth is never easy. I encounter a lot of naysayers and well-intentioned people challenging what I do, some of them are even people closest to me. But it is empowering to know there are other young people out there pursuing hard but important work.
It is young people who are best fit to take up the challenges of our times and radically address them for a better world. Because of our diversity, hyper-connectivity, technology savyness and our natural aspiration to make a difference, we can connect various stakeholders towards a shared purpose and advance social change in the fields we deeply care about. It will still be challenging. But the important thing is to know we are not alone.
zThat spirit empowers me to keep believing in what I do, and to keep desiring for a better world.
On to Davos
Months later, I got a letter of acceptance to attend the Davos Annual Meeting. I will be joining 49 other crazy young people doing gamechanging work – like Umar Anway Jahangir from Pakistan, who at 21 is the youngest delegate to the WEF and founded Bahria Medics – a student led social welfare organization; Chau Nguyen Huyen of Hanoi who is an analyst managing 5 state companies in Vietnam on top having founded a youth dance community; and Jennifer Raffoul from Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago who resigned from her well-paying job as an economist to startup an online shopping site promoting products “Made in the Carribean”. We will be attending sessions side by side with the likes of Bill Gates, Marissa Mayer, Muhammad Yunus, and various heads of state.
To be honest, I’m still baffled why this is happening. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be going to this event. But I guess the fact that I am affirms in me that that time for youth to shine is now! Young people have no excuse to settle for less than what they are capable of.
I don’t know what to expect in the next few days. And I guess it’s just right. I want my mind to be an empty cup waiting to be filled, or like a dry sponge waiting to be soaked, so I can share the conversations here with those back home, especially to the youth.
Youth is never a hindrance. It is an advantage.
Take courage to pursue that which you always wanted to and help improve the state of the world.
Trust me, you will not be alone. – Rappler.com
Noreen Marian Bautista is a 24-year-old social entrepreneur. She co-founded enterprises like Jacinto & Lirio, and TheSparkProject.com and is now the General Manager of consulting and business services (CBS) for the Institute for Social Enterprise & Development. She is a member of the Global Shapers Community – Manila Hub.
Read more about Noreen Bautista’s work on Rappler.