14 TED talks on how the power of social entrepreneurship is helping solve the world’s biggest problems [Part 1]

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Image courtesy: theairspace.net

Image courtesy: theairspace.net

 

TED talks are highly addictive, moving, dramatic and inspire listeners to think, and sometimes act. We have curated a list of TED talks by a variety of high quality speakers who have had immense impact in the areas that they have chosen to be involved in. They have taken on the big problems facing the world at the moment including urban upheaval, illiteracy, environmental degradation and financial inclusion. We have decided to publish this as a two-part series so that you can read the feature, and watch the videos at leisure.

Hope these talks inspire you think, and spur you to positive action.

1) Mohamed Ali: The link between unemployment and terrorism:

The talk:

Here’s a simple fact. Provide the young and restless with employment and opportunity and you bring out the best is them. In the world’s biggest cities, this is a reality. But in places like Mogadishu, where human rights advocate Mohamed Ali comes from, a lack of  economic opportunity means that terrorist outfits often recruit youth. Ali argues that developing innovation incubators in our cities could be the answer.

Why listen:

Ali is the executive director of the Iftiin Foundation, he helps youth choose innovation instead of terror in Somalia and other post-conflict countries. Ali is also founding member of End Famine, a campaign aimed at promoting food security, and eradicating famine globally.

2) Charles Leadbeater: Education innovation in the slums:

The talk:

Charles Leadbeater finds that poor children in the slums of Rio and Kibera are discovering revolutionary new ways to learn that are disrupting the old school education system. This phenomenon is part of what Leadbeater refers to as “amateur innovation” – great ideas from beyond conventional systems, spawned by people who now have the tools to collaborate and innovate.

Why listen:

Leadbeater is a financial journalist turned innovation consultant, who first wrote about the rise of “pro-ams”, a new breed of passionate amateurs, in a 2004 essay “The Pro-Am Revolution”. These “pro-ams” are responsible for many breakthrough discoveries like the mountain bike, Linux and Wikipedia.

A prolific author, his books include ‘We-Think’ and ‘The Pro-Am Revolution’.

3) Majora Carter: 3 stories of local eco-entrepreneurship:

Majora Carter believes that the future of the environment is linked to local communities and entrepreneurship. In this talk, Carter highlights three stories of people who are saving their communities, through eco-entrepreneurship and going green.

Why listen:

Majora Carter’s motto is “Green the ghetto!” and true to that she believes in urban renewal through the greening the community landscape. Carter, a 2005 MacArthur “genius” grant awardee, served as executive director of Sustainable South Bronx for seven years.  After injecting her neighborhood with the concept of eco-entrepreneurship, she founded the Majora Carter Group, to bring her pioneering approach to the cities of New Orleans, Detroit and the small coastal towns of Northeastern North Carolina. A enigmatic, hard-hitting speaker, her delivery made Guy Kawasaki ponder whether she wasn’t “every bit as good as (late) Steve Jobs.”

4) Shaffi Mather: A new way to fight corruption:

The talk:

Shaffi Mather, founder of Ziqitza Healthcare (1298 for Ambulance) talks about why he quit his earlier job to become a social entrepreneur. He also talks about plans to start a new company (Bribe Busters) to fight corruption in public service.

Why listen:

Mather sacrificed a successful corporate career at Reliance Industries to found Ziqitza, a for-profit service ambulance service, with a hybrid pricing model. He is also a co-founder of Moksha-Yug Access, a micro-finance institution and The Education Initiative, an e-learning company that also creates schools. A lawyer, he is focuses on public interest litigation. He was also economic adviser to the Kerala chief minister, Oommen Chandy.

5) Ernesto Sirolli: Want to help someone? Shut up and listen!

The talk:

Sometimes the best intentions are paved with self-assumptions that defeat the very purpose they are meant to serve. In this talk, Ernesto Sirolli suggests that the first step to solving a problem is to listen to the people, and arrive at solutions through their entrepreneurial spirit because they are the ones facing these issues.

Why listen?

Sirolli is best know for his unique initiative at Esperance, where he leveraged the resourcefulness of the local rural community in Western Australia, to pioneer a economic development approach that produced amazing results. “The Esperance Experience” has been used as a model of local economic development has been employed by other local communities around the world. Sirolli is the Founder of the Sirolli Institute, a non-profit organization that guides community leaders globally.

6) Iqbal Quadir: How mobile phones can fight poverty:

The talk:

Iqbal Quadir talks about his journey so far: from growing up as a poor kid in Bangladesh, to being a banker in New York, starting the GrameenPhone revolution and becoming a firm believer in bottom-up development. After the success of GrameenPhone, Quadir talks about his latest project, which will help rural entrepreneurs build their own power plants.

Why listen:

Quadir is best-known for founding the billion dollar for-profit social enterprise GrameenPhone. He is also the founder of Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship, which is housed in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, that focuses on the promotion of bottom-up entrepreneurship in developing countries. He is currently also a lecturer at the John F. Kennedy School at Harvard University, where he was formerly a fellow.

7) Jessica Jackley: Poverty, money — and love

The talk:

Jessica Jackley was six years old when she first heard about the poor, and was told that it was her job, to help the poor with clothes and money. Then she was told no matter what she did, the poor would always remain in the world. This upset her and she wanted to do something about it in spite of being overwhelmed by the mere possibility. Years later Jackley heard a speech by Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus. She says, “I was so completely blown away by the idea that I quit my job, dropped everything and moved to East Africa to help.” In late 2005 she co-founded Kiva.org with Matt Flannery.

Why listen:

By co-founding Kiva – a peer-to-peer model in which lenders sort through profiles of potential borrowers and make loans to those they find most appealing- Jackley revolutionized the way financial inclusion is addressed. She’s already onto here second social enterprise, having founded ProFounder: a platform that helps small businesses in the United States access start-up funding through community investing.

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Nelson Vinod Moses

Nelson Vinod Moses

Journalist with a keen interest in all things social entrepreneurship.