"It took me like ten years to graduate. I was working on my consulting business at the same time, and University only began to prepare me after I got all this work experience," Munira Ravji, the founder of a socially conscious event-planning company called Bene-Fete, told us. Like Munira, a lot of young entrepreneurs are finding that their education is simply not enough to prepare them for the work they want to do, and are looking for other ways to get the training and experience they need.
A week from today over one hundred and twenty-five young people will gather in New York City for the StartingBloc Institute for Social Innovation, one of the longest-standing organizations addressing the need for additional training in the social enterprise space. "StartingBloc was founded in partnership with business and graduate schools to provide an education and global community of young leaders who seek to integerate the principles of social enterprise into their lives" says Taryn Miller-Stevens the director of programming and partnerships for the organization. "StartingBloc Fellows seek and create jobs where they don't have to sacrifice their salary to make a social impact."
Other more localized networks are beginning to gain momentum in response to this same need. "We have learned that young social entrepreneurs tend to work in isolation so they need that reinforcement. Bringing people together and connecting them gives them the social reinforcement for what they are doing, and people get access to a pool of resources and learned experiences." says Assaf Weisz, founder of a group called the Young Social Entrepreneurs of Canada, which is one month away from its first conference RE: Vision 2010.
CleanTech U is a recently announced project (*now hiring) driven by a partnership between Ashoka and Net Impact which will be launching a series of cleantech hubs at universities across the country, all aimed at creating the communities of students necessary to commercialize and capitalize on the energy being put into cleantech and social enterprise -- in short, the opportunity for students to actually get jobs doing good.
There are communities of people that are also taking a hyper-practical 'street' approach to the training by getting their members into the field. These green economic development programs, such as Summer of Solutions, drive individuals to develop and work with practitioners in the field, developing tangible job opportunities that can help create green-collar jobs through emerging sectors such as energy efficiency, community-based clean energy and green industry.
A lot of today's momentum is being captured and reported live through the blogosphere at places like Change.org's Social Entrepreneurship Blog. If you are interested in starting the process of self-training, another great resource is the forty-page ebook that DreamNow produced last year, called Occupation: Change the World, which can be downloaded for free at myoccupation.org