Young people today can bypass official obstacles in order to make themselves heard. Those with access to digital comms use social media to state their case. They can literally communicate with the world to create social change and, importantly, make themselves heard by those in power.
Young people are also inspiringly free of some of the in-built ‘reasons to not’ that us adults can readily apply to new ideas. And although there are a plethora of young people who just want to make money, there’s also as many who are socially-minded, enterprising and tech-savvy. Their motivation is for all to live in a better world where technology is the vehicle for change.
To launch Fire Tech’s theme for 2020, Digital Leadership initiative, focusing on young people to use tech in a positive, creative and meaningful way, (and in honour of the award season), the team has put together a list of ten inspiring young social entrepreneurs and leaders – aged 13 to 30 – who harness digital technology in order to make a difference.
We would love you to contribute to the list. Please share your nominations for a ‘one zero’ – Fire Tech’s version of a virtual high five #virtualonezero
1. Malala Yousafzai, Pakistan – 22
A well-known and influential activist, Malala uses her prominence for good. Banned from getting an education by the Taliban, she took her cause for a global education to the United Nations.
2. Preethika Mathan, Australia – 13
Winner of the Bragg Student Prize for Science Writing for her essay on The pricey problem with assistive technology, Preethika’s brother (below) was her inspiration to draw attention to the potential for tech to improve the lives of people living with disabilities.
3. Keno Fischer, USA – 23
An open source tool, Julia Computing is super popular when dealing with massive computational challenges such as machine learning and science, and is therefore the go-to for big data and analytics. As an open source platform, it enables peer-review and contributions by the developer community.
4. Kike Oniwinde, United Kingdom – 27
Founder of BYP Network, an app for Black Young Professionals to connect and network in the UK, it is the black, Asian and minority ethnic equivalent to LinkedIn. It connects senior leadership with young entrepreneurs to increase opportunities for all.
5. Carlos Pierre, Spain – 30
Launched when Carlos was 25, the AI start-up Badi is a room rental platform made by young people for young people. The app employs machine learning to match flatmates using personalised recommendation.
6. Milena Bottero, United Kingdom – 31
Established when she was 22, Milena’s Room for Tea is a network that connects young people undertaking internships and in need of short-term, affordable accommodation with hosts who have a spare room in their homes, usually an older generation host who want the company.
7. Jordan Hewson, Ireland – 29
Speakable is a social action company using technology to enable smart and effective civic engagement. Jordan wants to change empathy into impact and her company’s first product, the ‘action button’, has been embedded at the bottom of articles, enabling users to act through donation or by signing petitions led by big name charities.
8. Alessio Avellán Borgmeyer, Germany – 29
Alessio is founder of Jodel, a hyperlocal community app that shares what is happening in a user’s local area: events, offers, emergencies and suggestions – all in real-time. The platform is aimed at encouraging a sense of community by enabling communities to interact in meaningful ways.
9. Jamie Davies, United Kingdom – 15
Jamie set up CauseHub with co-founders Sanjay Poyzer, 23, and Jerome Toole, 21. The social change and innovation platform enables young people to engage in online decision-making and importantly see the effects of their action.
10. Greta Thunberg, Sweden, 17
No listicle on young people and social change would be complete without Greta who instructed the United States Congress to ‘listen to the scientists‘ and take real action on climate change. The teenage campaigner emphasised that this was not her ‘political opinion’ but simply ‘science’.
Don’t forget, young entrepreneurs in the making who are under 18 can present their Coolest Projects at an international event celebrating the world’s young tech innovators. It’s a great opportunity to network and share ideas.