Since 2001, with support from Nokia, IYF’s YouthActionNet® program has provided 160 youth leaders from 55 countries with critical leadership training and practical skill-building to help them build the capacity of their organizations.

Today, this highly successful global program is taking root at a national level, offering potentially hundreds more young leaders in their own countries the skills, opportunities, and recognition to drive change in their communities. Today, national programs are operating in Australia, Brazil, Jordan, Israel, Mexico, and Spain. 

In Mexico, for example, Fellow Rául Armando López Garcés, 25, uses chocolate as a tool for helping Mayan women rise out of poverty. Rául founded Chocolate Maya, a social enterprise, to train and equip low-income women to make artisanal, organic chocolates. Their creations are now tickling the taste buds of consumers throughout the nation and beyond.

Leadership Video 

Similarly, Brazilian Fellow Cecilia Mendes Barros, 24, trains disadvantaged youth to rehabilitate historic buildings. The youth benefit from developing hard skills they can use to secure jobs. Society benefits from the beautification of decaying urban spaces, which now attracted more visitors — and increased revenue. And by renovating existing structures, Cecilia’s project conserves precious natural resources.

In Brazil, Mexico, and Spain, IYF has joined with the Sylvan/Laureate Foundation and the Laureate International Universities network to create national youth leadership programs. Youth social entrepreneurship is fast gaining attention and support.

According to Douglas L. Becker, Chairman and CEO of Laureate Education, Inc., “Many of the Laureate-supported YouthActionNet® social entrepreneurs have found creative and effective solutions to local and global social challenges. These young innovators combine a deep commitment to their communities with a results-oriented focus on their work, which yields remarkable results.”

In 2010, additional YouthActionNet® programs are planned for Chile and Turkey. Through its national and global fellowship programs, YouthActionNet seeks to train and support more than 1,000 young social entrepreneurs globally over the next five years.