Our long-term economic health and ability to address social and environmental problems is based on our ability to innovate. Young adults possess a variety of innovator traits, ranging from creativity to a willingness to challenge the status quo, which offer a valuable source of untapped potential. Yet research conducted by the University of Waterloo suggests that our innovation potential begins to decline after the age of 24. It’s critical that we tap into this innovation before it subsides.
Growing up in the digital age has also given young adults access to a wealth of information that has shaped their view of the world. They’ve inherited environmental and economic crises created by older generations. They’re mad. But they’re ready to act. Time just named 17-year-old Greta Thunberg their 2019 Person of the Year. She “represents a broader generational shift… where young people are demanding change urgently.”
By providing a safe space for students to experiment with entrepreneurial action, we can foster their innovative spirit and encourage them to leverage it to create business models that make the world a better place.
As president of a leadership development organization, every day I see what young people are capable of when they’re given the opportunity to take action. One group of students developed a biodegradable solution to combat the 5.7 billion plastic amenity bottles sent to landfills every year. Students in Nova Scotia banded together to simultaneously fight food waste and insecurity by leveraging imperfect produce to create affordable bundles for people in need.
We need to band together to help the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders get the experience they need to take action to make this country better.
Nicole Almond is President of Enactus Canada.