THE BLOG
01/27/2014 06:32 pm ET | Updated Mar 29, 2014

Youth, Innovation and Entrepreneurship on My Mind: Off to the World Economic Forum 2014

Last week I didn't follow the activities of the 44th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum on social media or CNN. Thanks to the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, I was actually in Davos, Switzerland, joining the world's foremost multi-stakeholder community of leaders, including more than 40 heads of state, CEOs, political leaders, heads of international organizations and representatives from civil society shareholder groups.

With a tiny population of just over 11,000, Davos is host to the World Economic Forum (WEF, often referred to simply as "Davos"), an annual meeting of global political and business elites, and the home of one of Switzerland's biggest ski resorts. During the forum all the hotels are fully booked, restaurants have a standard wait of over an hour, and the small streets, though icy, are packed.

Davos 2014 provided an unparalleled platform for leaders to map the complexity and interconnectivity of today's changing world. With the theme "The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business," the official program focused on the following: disruptive innovation, inclusive growth, financial crises, government accountability and sustainable paths to development.

At the forum, I contributed to various discussions, including discussions on "creating opportunities for youth" with the Rockefeller Foundation and Microsoft. This discussion highlighted the level of uncertainty as we look into the future of education, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for youth. I addressed the ways in which YTF and other non-profits can continue to work together to catalyze sustainable ICT-enabled employment opportunities and skills training for high-potential but disadvantaged African youth, thereby generating social and economic opportunities for those employed, their families and communities.

I contributed my views to a panel with the Schwab Foundation and The Huffington Post, "The View From Davos: Social Innovation in 2014 and Beyond." This panel featured disruptive innovators who have led the way in developing bold and innovative solutions to the big social and environmental issues facing the world. I was joined by other panelists from organizations doing incredible work in this space, including Mois Cherem Arana (Enova), Jamie McAuliffe (Education for Employment) and Jane Chen (Embrace Innovations), and we addressed the role of social innovation in our economic future, the "game-changing" ideas that can scale social innovation significantly, and how to create and support more social innovators around the world.

I addressed some of YTF's key learnings with youth in communities as critical ingredients in the work we do, how we engage, involve and support them and how technology is changing the way we approach social problems. In interviews with the BBC and The Huffington Post, I discussed disruptive technologies that will democratize innovation, foster creativity, and facilitate entrepreneurship in the local communities in developing countries, very much in the same way as mobile technologies.

It was an incredibly packed week. This was my first time attending the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. Knowing that serendipity abounds and rewards the prepared, we embraced the dialogue.