One of the most vital players in the building of a civil society is the youth. It is estimated that young people account for one third of the world’s population.

The young people are the most dynamic, creative, innovative, strong; and highly instrumental in the growth process and development of any community, nation, state or society. Today, there are more young people in the world than ever before, creating unprecedented opportunities for political, economic and societal prosperity.

With 200 million people aged between 15 and 24 (the youth bracket), Africa for instance has the youngest population in the world. The current trend indicates that this figure will double by 2045, according to the 2012 African Economic Outlook report prepared by experts from the African Development Bank (AfDB), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the industrialized countries’ Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), among others.

The 21st century is in need of ambassadors of change and social transformation – from the poll of talents in the young population.  Among the many challenges that threaten the vibrance of young people towards becoming productive members of the society ranges from the scourges of poverty, ignorance and illiteracy. On the political level is the existence of bad leadership and corruption especially in developing countries.

Unfortunately, authentic morality which of course is the foundation of the society is now being shortchanged for selfishness, consumerism and individualism. The survival of the fittest is gradually becoming the mantra for today’s economic culture. Values such as collaboration and camaraderie among young people is seen as outlandish. For some highly educated leaders, information is a leeway to intellectual egoism and power for subjugation. 

Economically, resources meant for all has become “all for one”. What is more, self-acclaimed religious leaders, in the name of God, rip off the poor masses and enrich themselves with unimaginable material acquisitions thereby proving clearly Karl Marx’s saying that “religion is the opium of the people”. Globalization? A utopia that promises global unity and peace-not without the vestiges of neo-colonialism. 

Global security is threatened by the continuous insurgences from extremist groups. More, environmental sustainability is currently a challenge world leaders are making efforts to address, and so on.

These societal maladies will fester until we direct our focus on the young ethical leaders of this generation. A society that denies its youths in the growth and developmental process does so at its own risk. Thriving societies understand that through the creativity, energy, resourcefulness, character, positivism and intelligence of the 21st century youth, the pace of development and transformation of a society is skyrocketed.

“A nation finds her motivation in young people’s dreams and hopes; a community develops through their participation and involvement; through their creative talents and power, a society makes giant strides, and experience economic development and overall advancement.”

Young people must be given a seat at the decision making purviews of policy and governance. A world shaped for young people without youth involvement and consultation is a futile effort. 

Time and resources must be deployed to the training and capacity development of today’s young people. There is a good reason for investment; we need not look far to see the phenomenal feats  and impact of young social change leaders globally- they live and work everywhere: in local communities, global platforms especially in politics, academics, entrepreneurship, development, innovation and technology, environmental sustainability amongst others. Some are running startups that solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. Some are building systems, some improving processes and others influencing policies and creating change “from their corner”.

The Atlas Corps Fellowship is a perfect example of an authentic investment designed to empower today’s young leaders for social impact. Organizations, corporations, philanthropists, impact investors, policymakers, and social influencers can take a cue from this, and build a strategic investment plan to accelerate youth potential for long-lasting impact.

To the young person reading this piece, here is an advocacy: take a moment to think (and really do that now!) Think! Imagine the future of the world if you simply stood up to your fears and took an unapologetic stance of positively affecting your society starting right from your caucus and peers; your school, community, state, country; your world! Imagine the magnanimity of positive impact in the world if you reinvented yourself, took initiatives and acted as an agent of change.

Do you realize what substance you’re made of? You are simply the most gifted, creative, energetic and highly motivated in the world today! The future of the our world is literally in our hands. The world is looking up to you. Be the change you want to see! Find your path! Build your capacity. Build your community, and make a lasting change today!

Your dreams are valid! Go for it! You Matter!