The Ambition of the Invisible Heart
June 10, 2014 | 1567 views
Through a partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, 13 Young Leaders from around the world had the opportunity to experience the Skoll World Forum On Social Entrepreneurship first hand. The MasterCard Foundation is an independent, global organization based in Toronto, Canada, with more than $9 billion in assets. Through collaboration with partner organizations in 46 countries, it is creating opportunities for all people to learn and prosper. The Foundation's programs promote financial inclusion and advance youth learning, mostly in Africa. Established in 2006 through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide when it became a public company, the Foundation is a separate and independent entity. The policies, operations, and funding decisions of the Foundation are determined by its own Board of Directors and President and CEO. In this series, 10 of the Young Leaders reflect on their participation in the 2014 Skoll World Forum.
For the eleventh time, a global community of social entrepreneurs, public and private sectors gathered in Oxford for debates, work sessions and discussions about how to accelerate solutions to social and environmental challenges. Through the theme “Ambition” the Skoll World Forum 2014 began and from the words of Heraclitus, “Big results require big ambitions”, I was immediately challenged to reflect about what MY ambition is and how I am going to make it happen.
Attending this year’s Forum was a dream come true. As a social entrepreneur, I have followed those before me, whom I call heroes. These global leaders have dedicated their talents, passions and skills to make this world a better place. As a result of their courage, I dedicated my life to these goals as well. Recently, I had the fantastic opportunity to join this outstanding global community at the Skoll Forum and write about my experience in helping to make a difference in the world’s big issues.
“We have heard a lot about the invisible hand of the markets. Let us bring the invisible heart of the markets to help those whom the invisible hand has left behind,” said Sir Ronald Cohen closing the first Forum’s night. That was a very inspiring moment and motivated me to identify a simple word to summarize one of the most impactful weeks I have ever had: heart.
That wasn’t enough though. I needed to combine it with the Forum’s 2014 theme: Ambition. Now I can summarize the week.
Throughout those five full days in Oxford, as part of the Young Global Leaders Initiative which was made possible thanks to the MasterCard Foundation and the Skoll Foundation, I was deeply impacted by the stories of those in the program with me. We listened to a 3-minute story from each one of the fourteen young global leaders. Each story was unique. Each story had impact. Each story was spoken from the bottom of our hearts.
Steve Jobs said that when we touch someone’s heart, it is limitless. And that is exactly how I felt seeing Malala Yousafzai, when she accepted the Skoll Global Treasure Award and shared her wise words and inspired everyone to join the fight for girls’ education. And I felt limitless when I was able to meet with the brilliant learning community of Skoll Skollars and MBA graduates during a special dinner. I was delighted to have the chance to engage, meet and connect with so many talents from different places around the World: China, India, US, UK, South Africa. When I introduced myself and the organization I have led in the past years, CDI, a wide discussion ensued as I learned that some of the graduates had worked on my organization’s business case. It was an insightful moment to everyone and my head was spinning as I got back to my room, trying to absorb those last couple of hours I had just lived.
Back to ‘Ambition.’ It was great participating in the Closing Plenary with one of the major philanthropists in Africa and a successful business leader, Mr. Tony Elumelu, in a thoughtful Q&A session.. Learning through his journey and enjoying a moment when he shared his ambition and wisdom, was like a mentorship session on the stage for the nearly thousand delegates watching. That experience was definitely a peak to end such a great week.
I believe that we live in interesting times, and that we are at an inflection point to make substantial change. I believe that in the future, we will look back to learn that poverty existed, but is now gone. As a cancer survivor, I believe that access to information and program treatments must not be a privilege, but a right. As an entrepreneur, I believe in business as force for good. It is all part of my ambitious vision and a piece of how I can make a difference. I feel grateful for having so many opportunities to accelerate my learning curve and being part of a world-class social entrepreneurship community. Gratitude – that is the heart part of my ambition.