Impact Hub Host Nitin Chand sat down with Bozhanka Vitanova, Co-founder and Program Director at Yunus & Youth, which helps exceptional young people build impactful social businesses, anywhere in the world.
Tell us, what is Yunus & Youth?
Yunus & Youth helps young people under thirty years old build successful social businesses. We have two main programs: the Fellowship Program and the Ambassador Program. The Fellowship Program helps people that have already started working on a social business who are at an early stage. We help those people get to the point where they have validated their business model and get to the stage where they are ready to scale and get investments. Our Ambassador Program is an online social business education program. Here, we have people who want to learn about social entrepreneurship and potentially become social entrepreneurs one day.
What has surprised you the most about the development of your organization over the last two years?
There has been a much larger number of young people coming from Africa, Southeast Asia and Brazil who have shown interest in building social business. This has been a positive surprise that more and more young people are getting involved in the domain of Social Entrepreneurship.
What is next for Yunus & Youth?
We are building a platform that will allow us to support a larger number of social entrepreneurs. At the moment, we have twenty four people in our Fellowship Program and fifteen in the Ambassador Program, and we are looking to scale these numbers.
If you have to change one thing about Yunus & Youth, what would it be?
We have an international team and people work all over the world, which is fantastic but sometime I think If we could get everyone in the same physical space and work together, the results would be amazing.
What do you think has lent credibility to Yunus & Youth so quickly?
The support of Professor Yunus – he trusted our model and what we are doing, which opened doors for us and helped us reach out to more people.
What helped you to develop key partnerships for Yunus & Youth?
I think it is the diversity of our network. We have a very interesting group of people, all very unique coming from different countries and working on some very, very exciting projects. So when we present what our people are working on to our corporate partners they invariably show an interest in being part of these initiatives.
Apart from Yunus & Youth, is there anything else you’re working on?
I came to the USA on a Fulbright scholarship, so I’m currently finishing my Masters in Economics and Finance.
What do you believe are tools for measuring social impact?
I don’t believe in universal measuring systems but I do think that impact has to be measured. Every organization is very unique and should have its own impact measurement system in accordance with their theory of change.
How can social entrepreneurs attract talent, when often you don’t see as high salaries as you do in the for-profit world?
This has been an issue in the nonprofit sector because people have this notion that if you are going into a nonprofit, you should be happy with the social impact that you are making and not care about money. In real life, you need money to live and there is nothing wrong with it. So I believe people should be compensated fairly and adequately.
Do you think companies in the sharing economy should be considered social enterprise?
We have a very specific definition of “social business,” given by Professor Yunus wherein he defines social business as a no loss, no dividend model. In this model, no profit is shared with the shareholders and all profit is reinvested in the business.
What could government or society do to encourage more social entrepreneurship?
Social entrepreneurship is no longer a hype, it is a valid life and career path. Social entrepreneurs are making a real difference out there and they should be seen as relevant players in our societies.
Who do you consider the “Steve Jobs” of social entrepreneurship?
Which organization is doing amazing work in the social entrepreneurship space?
What part of the Impact Hub Community is most exciting to you?
I love this place and I must say that when I am here, my productivity increases! I think it is mainly because of the environment and people in the space.
Kickboxing, Yoga & Reading.
Ajvar (a type of relish from Macedonia)
Pride and Prejudice.
Last read book?
From Third World to First by Lee Kuan Yew.