THE GLOBE TROTTER'S JOURNAL
WE are never too young or too insignificant to take the lead, especially in matters which constitute the greater good. This sentiment has kept me going, despite all odds.
I took part in Your Big Year, the world’s largest social entrepreneurship competition hosted in the UK, endorsed by the Global Entrepreneurship Week, a global movement of enterprising people. Getting to the finals was exhilarating! We were among 24 finalists from 16 countries, working in teams of four to formulate strategies and organise projects within 10 days. It was like Donald Trump’s The Apprentice reality TV show, with a camera crew following us around.
We were tasked to run a charity campaign, develop learning modules on entrepreneurship for university students, craft business plans and projects for the British government and ministries and coach women entrepreneurs to succeed.
I had teammates from Poland, the United States and the United Kingdom. They came from diverse backgrounds and include an environmental activist, a football coach and a project manager. I was the young entrepreneur, eager to put my skills and experiences to the test.
Imagine waking up at 5am everyday to prepare for briefing and breakfast. By 7am, we were already on the streets, campuses or in government offices.
We worked until early evening, when the winners were announced, usually during dinner. Teams reflected on their tasks and improvised for tomorrow. It felt like a vicious cycle and the pressure was surreal!
We had no time to be fearful or doubtful of our abilities. We just gave our best.
I learnt from Your Big Year that cultural, religious and other differences should not prevent people from working together. Ideas and helping hands know no skin colour, gender or race.
In that big hall in Liverpool, thousands of candidates from all over the world were willing to share and inspire. It was exhilarating!
Even if we think we are extremely insignificant in this world, each of us has a role to play and each can offer a lot. Do not be reluctant, in this midst of globalisation, to present ideas from our culture and our side of the world.
We’ll be cheating ourselves if we don’t think big. If you are intimidated, it is just a matter of perception. It is good to be intimidated because you’ll be challenged to be bolder.
From my experience of handling 10 projects in 10 days, there were a few notable traits I discovered.
First, my teammates and the competing teams gave good presentations. It showed their confidence in and passion for their involvement in the project. This was vital especially when my team and I pitched an idea to launch a nationwide campaign to promote the awareness of women entrepreneurs in the UK and to form lobbying groups to attract investments for programmes to help women in rural communities to embrace entrepreneurship.
The judges, who represented the largest consulting firms and government agencies in the UK, were drawn to the idea because of our confidence.
The same applied when we were in the streets to raise funds for charity. People donated large sums because we shared our passion for the cause and engaged them, despite getting many rejection.
BE A PEOPLE PERSON
Lastly, regardless of your position, you need to be a people person to be successful. During our tasks, we worked with primary schoolchildren to organise a charity bazaar and we coached university students to become social entrepreneurs. I was not only a teacher but also a coach and motivator.
Regardless of age, the students will appreciate that you are investing time, knowledge, expertise and effort to help them succeed.
In the end, who would have thought that pupils could present their ideas to a group of experienced business people and that university students would take their first step to launch socially-responsible businesses?
Sixteen of the 24 candidates were eliminated from the competition and the remaining eight of us were one step closer to being voted Global Ambassador for Youths.
I was one of them.