In a Post-Pandemic World, Youth Take Center Stage and Lead (The Story from SAP)

Published: 1 August 2021

Reading time: 3 minutes

There are infinite possibilities to change the world. To put a number to it, consider that there are 1.2 billion people in the age group of 15-24 across the world — that is 1.2 billion possibilities for change!

The number represents young leaders who are courageous, curious, creative, flexible, open-minded, and, most importantly, doers. Some call them Possibilists. These individuals are trying to empower themselves and others to solve the issues of the world and striving to maximize their agency and potential.

On June 15, Ashoka ChangemakerXChange released the Possibilist study, supported by SAP,, and the Vienna University of Economics and Business (Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien). Surveying 1,000 social entrepreneurs representing 137 countries from 16 of the world’s leading youth social innovation networks, the study focused on the unique needs and challenges of young changemakers, and how organizations support these Possibilists.

The International Labour Organization estimates indicate that youth employment fell 8.7% in 2020, compared to 3.7% for adults, with the most pronounced fall seen in middle-income countries. The consequences of this disruption to the early labor market experiences of youth could last for years.

According to the Possibilist study, 60% experience a lack of personal financial security, yet 80% of youth report that the COVID-19 pandemic increased their wish to make a change in the world. Around 58% of young changemakers also said that the pandemic has increased their capacity to deliver change in the world. Some of them dedicate everything they have to tackling the most pressing issues of our time. Choosing purpose over paychecks, these Possibilists are unstoppable.

The pandemic has pushed everyone to find new ways to solve challenges big or small and it teached us this four things:

– Personal Sustainability Is a Shared Responsibility
Personal sustainability is an equal responsibility when you run a company. Often, the focus is heavily on others and not on ourselves. Social impact leaders don’t put enough value on their personal well-being, forgetting that it is at the cost of the health of the company. This is not about the person leading alone, but everyone being part of the company.

– Intention Without Investment Is Futile
Even when there is awareness and intention, what really is required is investment, in terms of time, effort, and resources. Organizations should invest in a resident psychologist, irrespective of whether they are dealing with vulnerable communities or not.

– Power of Internal Changemakers
Every organization should invest in internal or “resident” changemakers who can bring a vital fresh perspective and respect people’s time, efforts, stories, and inspiration. A mandatory policy to support changemakers should be in place.

– Shift from Founder-Focused to Purpose-Driven Organizations
During the early days of social entrepreneurship, most companies are very founder-centric. When that happens, the founder can no longer do his work because all his efforts and energy goes into meeting people who are equally or more inspiring than him.

The world will always need more good news  – curiosity leading to courage leading to change.


SAP is committed to helping the world run better and improve people’s lives, with youth playing a critical role.

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