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Next Gen Social Entrepreneurs: Leveraging Media & Tech for Social Change

3p Contributor | Saturday May 22nd, 2010 | 3 Comments

By Paul Lamb

Let’s face it. Social enterprise has not done a particularly good job of attracting and training the full range of next generation entrepreneurs. Sure, an increasing number of training programs exist at the college and graduate school level, but what about teenagers and youth in low income communities?

Fortunately a number of forward looking community based organizations, funders, and support organizations are investing in next generation entrepreneurs outside of college gates. And they are relying on young innovators and the community organizations which work with them to take up social enterprise on their own terms.

One hot youth enterprise area, not surprisingly, is new media and technology. Young innovators and youth service organizations are leveraging their expertise in media, music, and the Web to generate earned income, support social change, and provide positive role modeling for other youth.

Some examples include…

Change Agent Productions: A Long Beach, CA venture that employs low income and underserved youth in video production, website design, and technology lab setup and training for schools.

O-Zone: A young rapper who recovered from a near-fatal shooting in East Oakland, has created and released several original tracks addressing violence in East Oakland. O-Zone, whose real name is Olondis Walker, also teaches music production skills to underprivileged youth at the Green Youth Arts & Media Center. His mission is to use music as a medium to empower low-income youth in Oakland to become changemakers in their communities.

Yo! Biz: A San Francisco venture of Youth Outlook (YO!), which leverages its expertise in youth created media content for print, radio, TV, and Web.

Youth Media International: The business arm of the nationally recognized Youth Radio, which earns revenue through the syndication of youth produced radio content. YMI is also in the process of developing an App Lab, and has already rolled out its own Facebook App called Stop Me From Spending.

Even Individual youth entrepreneurs without formal support have proven adept and leveraging new media to generate widespread interest in their efforts. A teenage rapper and artist named Baby Champ, dedicated to promoting non violence in his neighborhood, caught the eye of investors and other supporters through a self-produced YouTube video which has now generated nearly 3 Million views.

These efforts and more are being championed by an array of youth-focused social enterprise funders and technical assistance providers like Ashoka Youth Venture, SAGE, Sparkseed, and ZeroDivide.

The choice of media and technology as vehicles for social enterprise and social change are obvious ones for millenials growing up in the Twitter age.

Hopefully the growth of mission based media and tech ventures will inspire other youth to pick up the social enterprise mantle, and to teach older entrepreneurs a thing or two about emerging technology and communications as the landscape continues to shift.

Roll over Beethoven…here come the new media and tech social enterprises!

Paul Lamb is the Principal of Man on A Mission Consulting and a big fan of next generation social enterprise.


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