“Do you think charities have a future?” asks Herman Snelder (66), while sitting on a classical school bench between the two students. “I believe so, problems won’t solve themselves, it just doesn’t work like that”, one of the students replies convincingly. “But I don’t expect them to be as big as they are right now.”
The concept is simple. Two high school students – who have just started their economics and finance course – team up with an experienced social entrepreneur to learn more about the world of social impact. By sharing their stories, they provide each other with different perspectives and shine a light on the ever-increasing world of social enterprises.
A new generation is emerging. The students sitting at the table with Herman Snelder are part of an age group that faces some major challenges. Climate change, growing inequality, immigration and technology, to name a few. They might not be older than fourteen; that doesn’t stop these students from thinking about solutions to solve societal problems. Everyone in the classroom seems to agree on the fact that governments should play a pivot role in solving these so-called wicked problems. Yet, they also acknowledge that the days of exclusive government dependency are over.
A future proof solution
This notion provides Herman with a great opportunity to introduce the two enthusiastic students with the philosophy behind social entrepreneurship and social startups. “A future proof solution that combines business with social goals”, as he potently describes. Instantly, one of the students seems drawn to the idea of starting his own social enterprise. He doesn’t hesitate and asks the experienced social entrepreneur, with more than 30 years of experience in the field, for some advice. “What do I have to do to start my own business?” “That’s a great question”, Herman replies. “I believe that if you are able to create something with your own startup that would really help people, so that their lives become easier and more liveable, you are making significant impact.”
Who knows, perhaps one day these students will make a great amount of social impact themselves. For now, the teenagers already dare to dream out loud.
“What are the biggest challenges that our planet is facing right now?” Herman asks. “I want to end the refugee crisis”, says one of the students without blinking an eye. “I think that inequality is a large problem in society right now.” One thing is clear: the new generation is idealistic and knows that change is necessary.
“Social entrepreneurship: a future proof solution that combines business with social goals.”
Smartphones changing the corn industry
Although Herman Snelder spent most of his high school days in the sixties, he still seems to be in touch with what these teenagers care about. The MDF founder – who has a history in organisational development in Africa – shares some anecdotes on his work in different parts of the continent. The students are on the edge of their seats when he tells them about the way that smartphones changed the corn industry in Africa. “These modern inventions have huge impact”, Herman says. The students can only nod in agreement.
When talking about the great challenges of their time this classroom suddenly doesn’t seem so far away from the world of social entrepreneurship. “All genuine education comes through experience”, as the famous American philosopher and pedagogue John Dewey once profoundly put it. This new experience provided the students with new knowledge into the world of social impact and Herman Snelder with a better vision of what exactly moves the new generation. So now everyone is a step closer to making a positive impact on the world of tomorrow. “Because we have to do it together”, they conclude simultaneously.
Learn more about what you can do to align your work / projects with trends in international cooperation during MDF’s course Enterprising Project Design.