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Without question, digital technology has accelerated the tempo of the world’s activity and the pervasiveness of human connections. Many of us are far more connected to stories and information than we have ever been, yet the noise and ubiquity of this digital world makes it harder to surface and share personal stories of change and impact.

Few would deny that storytelling is a powerful tool for inspiring action and change and influencing thought leaders and decision makers. In the digital era, the shape and delivery of stories has shifted dramatically. Long-form narrative and conventional journalism now share the stage with messages of 140 characters or fewer and images that disappear seconds after they are opened. While there have never been more ways to reach audiences, it has also never been more difficult to really reach them.

YOUTH FOR CHANGE recognizes a big opportunity in this intersection of youth, story and technology, and has launched a project to consider the role that digital technology can play in elevating the practice of storytelling as a means to improve the well-being of the poor and vulnerable around the world. We drew the insights and ideas in this report from interviews and roundtable discussions with youth already delving into the power of social innovation and digital technology.  

The Goodwall Founders

Omar Bawa and Taha Bawa, aged 25 and 27 respectively, belong to Switzerland and have cofounded the social media platform, Goodwall. It resembles to the Linked-In except for the fact that Goodwall is solely to facilitate the students connect with their peers, avail scholarship opportunities, apply to universities and obtain similar benefits.

Headstart AI

The two cofounders of the Headstart AI, aged 29 and 23, have revolutionized the recruitment process.

They give order and collect far more information of candidates than contained in a CV and utilize the machine-learning to match the most suitable and favorable jobs for participants. It also fits the recruitment considering technical and cultural formalities.

Anti-Bullying Ambassadors

Alex Holmes, age 29, was a victim of bullying in his student life. Today, he is the founder of Anti-Bullying Ambassadors, a foundation that aims at training people psychologically and physically who get directed to bullying. Holmes has successfully educated over 28,000 young victims and his organization has spread from UK to Greece, Italy and more. His foundation has also been a part of the Diana Award.

The Girls’ Network

Aged 28, Becca Dean is another social entrepreneur who addressed the disguised issue of the impact of a lack of female role model on young generation. Having known the affects it can have, Dean founded The Girls’ Network that connects young girls to individual female mentors.

She has matched around 1300 of such young females and is now partnered with Barclays, BNY Mellon and PwC as well.

Zafer Elçik, 23, Turkey

Zafer Elcik © Illustrations: Bauer & Hofmann

When Zafer noticed the only thing that captured his autistic brother’s attention for any time was his smartphone, he built a gaming app, hoping to enhance his brother’s cognitive skills. His project is now Otsimo, a free, Turkey-based educational gaming app, helping more than 30,000 children with learning disorders and special needs to improve cognitive learning

Where did you find the courage to start a business at the young age of 21?

When I first started out, I didn’t do it for the sake of creating a business, I felt a strong desire to help my brother. Only then did I realise my idea had great potential to help others – Otsimo grew organically into a business. Our mission now is to democratise special education with the help of technology.

Any useful advice for someone who’d like to build a social enterprise?

Setting up a project with social impact is definitely not easy – actually, I think it is twice as hard as building a ‘normal’ business or an NGO. You are creating something that needs to have an effect on lots of lives and be accessible, plus you have to find a viable business model for it. My advice is to focus on the impact first but to not lose sight of the business model.

Zafer Elcik's Tablet © Illustrations: Bauer & Hofmann

How has Otsimo changed you on a personal level?

It has changed me a lot. I’ve become more grounded and more empathetic towards others – not only towards autistic children or those with special needs, but I’ve become more sensitive to everyone. I think everything should start with empathy -


Where YOUTH FOR CHANGE comes in!

Our ambitious project seeks to address digital transformation through development of digital readiness, resilience and capacity, promote active citizenship/young people’s sense of initiative and strengthen the employability of young people. Our main objective is to upskill project partners/associated partners/youth leaders empowering them with new knowledge and practical training resources to help young people put technology and digital stories to good use. Our goal is to empower young people (15-24 years) to become active, empowered digital citizens capable of advancing strong social change missions online.

YOUTH FOR CHANGE seeks to change the dynamic by engaging young people in the non-formal learning opportunities which build on their existing interest in social media platforms like Snapchat, Tik Tok. Across Europe, youth unemployment and disengagement are on the rise. In 2020 the share of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) across Europe returned to the 2017 level (13.7%).

In a short space of time, the global pandemic resulted in the gains from 3 years were wiped out. The situation is worrying for the youth leaders working for and with young people particularly in Lithuania. Last year, the number of young people under the age of 29 registered with the Employment Service increased 2.7 times, and the number of young people aged 16–24 - as much as 3.8 times. In addition, as much as 56% of young jobseekers under the age of 29 did not have professional training. Relative and worse statistics can be seen in partner countries.

In Italy, youth-unemployment rate is at 32.2%. As of July 2021, 2,854 million people under 25 years of age were unemployed across the EU, of which a total of 2,339 million come from inside the eurozone, according to Eurostat.


Author - Laura Magan, Momentum Educate & Innovate

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