Joining the Board of YouthBank International
I have recently been invited to join the Board of YouthBank International (YBI). The invitation was quite unexpected, but I am delighted to have accepted the position.
I accepted the position as YBI is a Social Impact platform that focuses on Financial Literacy/Inclusion as a way to empower young people and simultaneously train them in Problem Solving and Critical Thinking.
My own academic background is in Business Strategy – I loved studying, love strategy. When I was in the final year of my Degree, I started to receive ‘graduate packs’ from companies looking to recruit students straight from college. I had this terrible realisation that I didn’t want to work for any of the types of companies that hire Strategy graduates! This was way back in 1994 where ‘Start Ups’ and ‘Entrepreneurs’ weren’t really a thing, so I decided to go and find what inspired me. I finished college without sending any job applications and went to find my own path.
At the age of 21 I established my first business – a comic shop called Needful Things in Galway, the west of Ireland. From there I opened a martial arts shop, a DJ/band promotion agency, an online art portal for Irish artists, a product development business for sports and hardware markets, was CEO of an energy management company and worked as a strategic consultant with companies across sectors around the world.
This was all business as usual for me. I enjoyed all of it, but none of it was my ‘path’
It was when I cofounded Pipit Global and led a Social Impact enterprise that I found my mission. Apply those college learnings and (by then) 20 years of experience in Strategy to making an Impact.
I accepted the position on the board with YouthBank as their mission aligns with my personal mission around making a Social Impact.
I had previously interacted with YBI in 2019 when I was asked to give a talk to a meet up of their Irish groups. The event had five groups of around 10 members each – aged 13 to 16, who were participating in the YBI program. I was very impressed with the cohesion the groups had and their focus on resolving issues their own peers and community were experiencing. Focused on how they could make a difference.
YBI was established in the late 90’s with the idea to blend philanthropy, entrepreneurship and youth development into a single model. YBI model trains and empowers young people to make decision and then implement them.
The group decides collectively what issue they want to address on a local basis i.e. issues that affect them personally and their local community. They raise the funds to help address the issue and – crucially – they own, handle, control and spend those funds. During the process the members go though the phases of the YBI training program, which teaches:
- Social Entrepreneurship
- Idea Development
- Digital Literacy
- Financial Literacy
- Fund Raising
- Money Management
- Fund Management
- Setting Funding Priorities
- Decision Making
- Creative Thinking
- Critical Thinking
- Problem Solving
YBI aligns its programs with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), as does Pipit Global.
In a world that has more young people than ever – 1.8B between the ages of 15 – 24 who are experiencing greater uncertainty about the future world they will both live in and lead, these skills are crucial. Learning them in real life as opposed to from a textbook truly empowers them by proving to them that they can make a difference.
To date, YouthBanks have been established in 36 countries with 314 groups formed. Those groups have led 1,500 projects and raised a total of £7m+ the deployment of which has impacted the lives of 4m+ people.
This is a powerful model which is being deployed by a small but dedicated team and I am very much looking forward to helping YBI grow and increase the Impact it makes, as well as the Impact I make.