Hello SOTGC community,
Can we really make a difference in the world? There are so many issues facing the planet and humanity that it can seem overwhelming. How can one person truly make an impact?
People like Bill and Melinda Gates with the Gates Foundation and President Bill Clinton with the Clinton Global Initiative have helped raise important social issues to the forefront of our culture. And in the process, they are not only making progress toward their goals but also inspiring young entrepreneurs to think about the world around them, not just the bottom line.
Enter today’s social entrepreneurs, many of whom are Millennials ready to make their own way in the world with passion, energy, technology, and amazing ideas.
One such social entrepreneur is George Srour, founder of Building Tomorrow, an Indiana-based social profit dedicated to providing primary education to children in East Africa. He was recently recognized by Forbes as one of the top 30 under 30 social entrepreneurs.
I had an opportunity to speak with George just as Building Tomorrow is launching a new social media campaign called #GiveUsYourTomorrow and to learn what motivates him and how others with a passion for social issues can become social entrepreneurs themselves.
Q: Thank you, George, for your time today to share your story. Tell me a little about Building Tomorrow and what inspired you to start the organization.
A: In 2004 I had the chance to study a program that was giving kids food in exchange for coming to class as a way to entice parents to allow their kids to attend school. As great of a program as it was, I couldn’t help but realize that often times the schools where this program was being implemented were in very poor shape. For me, that was a clear moment of obligation. I knew this was a need, and I knew young people could all chip in to make a difference, and that’s how Building Tomorrow began.
Q: When you decided to start Building Tomorrow, what were the steps you took to get it up and running? And why focus on micro-donations to reach your goals?
A: I moved in with my parents and spent the next year looking to see if there was a way I could work through or with other organizations to implement the community-based model I knew had to be our staple. In the end, I went ahead and started Building Tomorrow on the shoulders of many mentors and friends who walked me through all the legal, programmatic, and administrative loopholes.
Q: It looks like Building Tomorrow leverages college students to spread the word and take action. How did you come up with this engagement strategy?
A: Building Tomorrow’s first-ever campaign at William & Mary was aimed at raising $1.81 from every student, enough to rebuild the school. There’s a powerful message, I believe, in the notion that every one of us can make a seemingly small contribution that can leverage huge social change. Millennials and college students are thirsty for ways in which they can be at the heart of social movements, and focusing on this group has always been something we’ve strived to do well.
Q: Tell me about your fun #GiveUsYourTomorrow social media campaign. How did the idea come about, and how does it work?
A: It’s really simple. We want to engage Millennials in ways they’re already engaging. We live in a world infatuated with selfies, so why not take one to show off your bedhead AND do some good work in the world at the same time? We never looked great rocking braces in fourth grade, but dig those photos up, give your friends a laugh and help us buy some bricks for our next school! We took time to listen to how Millennials want to be engaged and #GiveUsYourTomorrow is an awesome way to support our work!
Q: Many of our readers are entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs. What advice or tips do you have to those who many be interested in starting their own social organization?
A: Carve out your niche and dream big. Figure out where the world needs you to lead and don’t stop until you get to the vision you’ve set for yourself. If you don’t have anyone around you challenging the possibility of you reaching that vision, you’re probably not dreaming big enough.
If this post resonated with you, please Tweet, Pin, or share on LinkedIn or Facebook and help spread the message. And check out Building Tomorrow’s Facebook and Twitter pages. I’m including my personal bedhead photo in the hopes that it will inspire you to participate and challenge your friends! For each friend that takes you up on the challenge and posts his/her goofy picture, you donate $2 each. It’s that easy.