OCIC Global Changemaker 2015 Youth Ambassador
Josh Layton – Youth Challenge International
Josh Layton co-founded Loop: Design for Social Good with his business partner in 2012 with the vision of using design and creativity to inspire people to action.
“The projects that we’re most passionate about,” he explains, “are ones that address social issues and challenges. We’re at a stage now where people care about what you’re doing in the world, and that opens up these huge possibilities to create positive change.”
Loop is an example of what Josh calls ‘social entrepreneurship’, explaining: “Social entrepreneurship, or social enterprise, is our generation’s answer to the world’s challenges. It represents the possibility of doing business and doing good at the same time.”
From the start, Loop shared a collaborative co-working space with Youth Challenge International, which is how a relationship between the two organizations began.
Josh had been previously involved with a number of international cooperation efforts. Between 2010 and 2013, he was a Program Leader for Operation Groundswell, leading small groups of university students to work with youth organizations and young changemakers in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. In early 2014, he travelled with YCI to work with the Kivulini Women’s Rights Organization in Mwanza, Tanzania, addressing issues of gender inequality and domestic violence.
Upon his return, Josh was inspired to become more involved with YCI at an organizational level. Loop started to work with YCI on rebranding, on creative solutions to strengthen its organization, and to increase its ability to create change. “Our focus now,” he says, “is on using design to reimagine how an international development organization can better serve youth and the challenges they face today.”
“In the past,” Josh explains, “we’ve tended to approach social problems in silos, and that doesn’t work anymore. We need to tackle these challenges from multiple perspectives, and we need solutions that come from people with different expertise, different skills, and different experiences.”
Design is such a powerful tool, he points out, because it can bring these perspectives together. “Design is a glue that holds all these different and interrelated sides of an issue together, in order to come up with more holistic solutions.” Not only does design help to see the “big picture,” he says, it helps to make the big picture understandable.
Loop’s focus in its work with YCI is on youth unemployment. “That’s our primary outlet for focusing on international cooperation and development,” Josh says—“how we can use creativity and innovation to tackle youth unemployment,” both at home and around the world.
“Youth today are probably more skilled and more visionary than we’ve ever been,” he continues, “which means we have this huge potential to create change; there are young people out there spearheading lots of game-changing initiatives.”
It can be challenging at times for youth to find opportunities and outlets to express their potential, he says, but when they do, “when they have that chance, they’re empowered to fulfill their ambitions, and that’s when they have the power to make real change.”
“There’s always room for people with talent and passion. The road may be tougher, but because you’re doing things with heart, the impact you have is more genuine and more powerful.”
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