Celebrating 10 years of the Young Social Entrepreneurs Awards program is the perfect occasion to reflect on the path the program has taken and the challenges faced each year by this fascinating initiative. This is a great place to stop that invites us to take stock and gives us the opportunity to value the great impact that these awards have had on all of us.
In a very special way, the Young Social Entrepreneurs Awards have been and continue to be an authentic school that has allowed us to immerse ourselves in the world of social entrepreneurship hand in hand with the people who truly lead projects that regardless of their structures and field of action, are providing innovative solutions to challenges or problems that affect specific communities.
This initiative was born 10 years ago because we were certain that social entrepreneurship was something necessary, a challenge that, as a university, we should take on fiercely because it gives us the chance to inspire our community and make it a participant in projects that are improving our closest surroundings. Convinced that education is one of the most valuable tools for social change, this project reinforced our mission: to educate professionals capable of contributing to social progress with entrepreneurial spirit and ethical commitment. Because we can all contribute to change in some way.
Throughout this period, we have seen that the Young Social Entrepreneurs experience marks a before and after in the careers of the winning entrepreneurs. Given our commitment, we have worked to offer them new resources, visibility, and key tools to help them lead projects with social impacts, from both in and outside companies, thus increasing their opportunities for professional success. Over the last few years of the program, we have identified “social natives,” young people born under the umbrella of the millennial generation, with a native command of technology and the goal of becoming the catalysts for change in their communities. They are the soul of these awards and the reason this initiative is stronger today than ever.
Edition after edition we’ve had the chance to do away with our prejudices, rethink priorities, and verify just how important social aspects are for the younger generations. We’ve had unique experiences alongside these entrepreneurs, we’ve taken part in awareness-raising campaigns on our different campuses, and above all we’ve established a natural link between the university and different projects that are committed to the environmental, social, and economic sustainability of our country. This global awareness in favor of a more just world has taken hold among the members of this university community and has made us see that we all are, or could be, agents of change.
This is a change that seems to mark the current agenda, because over the course of the years we have seen how countries, companies, educational institutions, and civil society have agreed to join forces to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development or, in other words, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), 17 goals for which today’s young people are essential, because they are the people who will lead this movement in coming years, both personally and in the corporate environment. This global commitment has provided a shared roadmap to ensure the sustainability of our planet, and that is very good news.
The SDG have afforded us the opportunity to look beyond and step out of our comfort zones in order to discover that there is still a lot left to do, while the Young Social Entrepreneurs Awards have shown us the way, one that doesn’t involve magic formulas and is based on ideas, perseverance, and commitment. In this sense, it’s essential that we take action and assume our role as agents of change. But where to begin? Undoubtedly, by including practices that will make a difference in our daily routines.
We could talk about obvious things, like getting used to not printing documents so as to save paper; or matters that require greater commitment, such as doing prior research and only purchasing products and services from companies that we know promote sustainable practices. There are numerous options. We can disconnect all electronic devices when they aren’t in use; prioritize showers and avoid baths that consume so much water; recycle paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum to slow the growth of landfills; donate what we don’t use; use bikes or public transportation to go to work; speak out against discrimination in the office, etc.
What’s certain is that this list of basic recommendations can be as long as we want it to be; in reality, the idea is that the SDG aren’t just on the political agenda but that they become fully integrated into our own agendas and routines. Because you don’t have to be a superhero to make our surroundings more healthy and sustainable. Our commitment is enough, that commitment that we’ve seen so much of in our Young Social Entrepreneurs Awards and that has helped us understand that we are all agents of change. Everyone.