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  • I believe we need more unreasonable people.

  • Actually, I'm hoping that after this talk,

  • 90% of this audience will want to become more of an unreasonable person.

  • I can see some of you frowning here in the first row,

  • which is understandable,

  • because we were raised in the Western culture,

  • and especially us Dutchies, to become reasonable people.

  • Reason gives us better careers, better lives.

  • I'm hoping to make you more unreasonable.

  • So what is unreasonable?

  • I have a slide and we don't need to read this all,

  • but it means irrational, not having the faculty of reason.

  • I got this from the free Wikipedia online.

  • I found other synonyms like silly, senseless, foolish.

  • So I'm not convincing you to be unreasonable yet, I realize,

  • but the reason I think it's important

  • I'm going to show you with this next quote by George Bernard Shaw,

  • "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world;

  • the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.

  • Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

  • George Bernard Shaw believed

  • that the only way to create progress is to be unreasonable.

  • If we want to move forward in this world, create a just and sustainable society,

  • we need people that are willing to break through the status quo,

  • and I fully support his view.

  • The first man on the Moon,

  • the people who thought about that were deemed totally unreasonable.

  • The first people that wanted to create the Internet were deemed unreasonable.

  • Most innovation comes from unreasonable people.

  • And personally, on a very small scale,

  • I was called unreasonable when I started WarChild.

  • People felt that I was a 24-year-old girl when I started,

  • I had no knowledge of war zones

  • and no knowledge of aid organizations or psycho-social projects,

  • so where would I find the funds?

  • Today WarChild supports a million children each year, in 13 war-torn countries.

  • So I have found--

  • (Applause)

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

  • For me it's obvious that unreasonable dreams can come true,

  • and that they can create progress.

  • One of my unreasonable heroes is Muhammad Yunus,

  • some of you will know him.

  • His very unreasonable idea was that you could provide unsecured loans

  • to the poorest people in the world, namely women.

  • Totally contrary to any banking system.

  • It took him 17 years

  • to prove that you could build a business and provide loans to these poor people,

  • but today his model is copied all over the world and it's called Microfinance.

  • His own social enterprise Grameen has already provided

  • five billion dollars to five million people

  • helping them, giving them the chance to free themselves from the poverty trap.

  • That is progress.

  • So I believe there is a strong correlation between unreasonable people and progress,

  • especially if it is combined with entrepreneurship,

  • with social entrepreneurship.

  • Why do we need progress?

  • To me that's very obvious, but I will touch on it

  • because I think it's important.

  • The last 40 years we've had growth, we've had huge accumulation of wealth,

  • but we haven't really been able to solve

  • any of the major challenges our world is faced with.

  • I can just name a few.

  • We're depleting our natural resources and raw materials

  • at a totally unprecedented pace.

  • There's 25 million people in Africa that have HIV/AIDS.

  • A million of them die every year.

  • We have one billion children growing up in poverty.

  • There's two billion kids in the world, so every second child grows up in poverty.

  • In 80% of the countries the divide between rich and poor is growing

  • and Oxfam just published a report

  • where they claim the 85 richest people in this world own more wealth

  • than the three and a half billion poorest, which is half of the world's population.

  • Just think about it.

  • Poverty is closer than we think because in the Netherlands,

  • we have one million people living below the poverty line.

  • Another two million people are lonely

  • which I personally perceive as a form of poverty.

  • There are hundreds of thousands of people

  • that we put outside of our society because they have a disability.

  • And I could go on and on, and I hope you agree with me

  • that this situation is totally unacceptable and also unsustainable.

  • We urgently need to find new solutions to these challenges.

  • I believe that these unreasonable people,

  • these social entrepreneurs,

  • play a key role in creating that change, creating that progress.

  • Because entrepreneurs choose to see opportunities

  • where other people see intangible problems.

  • They choose to swim against the stream, to be unreasonable,

  • to try new business models, to create innovation.

  • There are actually four characteristics for a social enterprise I want to share.

  • The first is every social entrepreneur has a theory of change,

  • something they want to change in this world.

  • Impact is their major driver. Impact is what starts it all.

  • They want to create that change through a viable business model,

  • through a market-based solution, which means they don't want

  • to be dependent on subsidies, and grants, or on the government.

  • They want to build a market-based solution, which also means

  • that they can scale that solution if they make their business grow,

  • and it means the solution is sustainable.

  • The most ambitious ones want systemic change,

  • want that change to be much bigger than their own enterprise.

  • So let's look at the Netherlands.

  • Do we have social entrepreneurs in the Netherlands? Yes, we do.

  • Quite a few very impressive ones, and I'll tell you about a few of them.

  • I want to start with Text To Change.

  • Text To Change is a social enterprise started in 2007 by Bas and Hajo,

  • and they wanted to use mobile technology, SMS messaging,

  • to reach the unreachable people in the outskirts of the world,

  • to bring development, health care, education.

  • It was deemed totally unreasonable.

  • First of all, you don't combine mobile phones and healthcare

  • and secondly, these people in the outskirts of Africa

  • would never be able to access mobile phones - this was 2007.

  • Today, 700 million people in Africa have a mobile phone,

  • which is almost 60% of the continent,

  • and people are expecting that next year it's already going to be 85%.

  • Text To Change has done 70 projects in 16 countries,

  • also in South America and Asia,

  • and they have already sent 32 million text messages this year,

  • and we're only in April.

  • So what do these text messages do?

  • To give you one example,

  • in Uganda they made an SMS quiz about HIV/AIDS.

  • For prevention, to prevent transmission and for people to raise awareness.

  • 40% of the people that took the quiz had themselves tested at a local clinic.

  • That is progress.

  • Another unreasonable entrepreneur, who is actually from Utrecht,

  • is called Sjoerd van der Maaden from Specialisterren.

  • His unreasonable idea was he was going to to build a business

  • where he'd only employ autistic people.

  • He believes autistic people have enormous capacity

  • if you look at what they can do instead of look at what they can't do.

  • There are 26,000 people with a form of autism

  • that are highly skilled that sit at home without jobs.

  • So he built a software testing company because he knows, he has an autistic son,

  • that people with this form of autism are extremely good

  • in concentration and details, and have concrete focus.

  • He has already proven that his staff, his team, is better in testing software

  • than any other software testers around.

  • This is a successful business creating huge impact,

  • giving people that were formerly unemployed

  • a chance to be part of our society and build their own lives.

  • As you can see these social enterprises are very different

  • than commercial enterprises, or charities, or public institutions.

  • They form a thriving new sector, a sector that has continued to grow.

  • Some of them are very ambitious; they really want to change the system.

  • System change is not just about scale,

  • system change is about changing the hearts and minds of people.

  • One of those potential system changers from the Netherlands is Fairphone,

  • by Bas van Abel, who actually also lives in Utrecht.

  • (Cheering)

  • Bas wanted to change the phones we are using.

  • He was totally frustrated by the fact that they are filled

  • with raw materials from conflict areas, mined often by children.

  • They're being produced in shady factories in Asia,

  • they're totally customer unfriendly because we can't customize them,

  • we can't even change the batteries anymore

  • and they end up in e-waste dumps in Africa.

  • So what do you do?

  • You can protest against it and be an activist,

  • or you can show that it can be done differently.

  • They created the first Fairphone.

  • The system change is in the fact

  • that consumers are willing to buy this phone.

  • The fact that the consumers, that we are willing to look

  • at the different way their products are made.

  • Fairphone could potentially be a revolution in the electronics industry.

  • Of course, Bas was deemed very unreasonable

  • when he started this venture.

  • Another movement that you must have all seen,

  • and is a potential system changer, is the share economy movement.