For the second time I’m off to attend the World Economic Forum at Davos, and again, looking at my schedule, I have over-extended myself… on top of that it seems to be extremely cold and coming from the nice comfortable South East Asian weather, I am certain to end up in a state of hypothermia…

However, frozen or not, this Forum promises to be of extreme interest to me and my organization Friends-International for two main reasons.

Firstly, the World Economic Forum has just published its Global Risks report, stating main risks as youth unemployment and the income gap: exactly what we at Friends-International have been tackling for the past 17 years. It is our strong belief that there can be no development and no good business if an increasing number of children and youth are relentlessly pushed on the margins of their societies. In the current model with the existing responses, their numbers just keep increasing with clear social consequences across the globe.

We believe that we need to invent a new way, that takes the best of the NGO world and mixes it with the best of the business world, and that mix presents tremendous opportunities as our various social businesses prove.

This is where the second reason for my special interest in this Forum kicks in: it is about Shaping New Models. I am especially interested in the topic of Shared Values and will actually lead some discussions on that topic. This idea has the promise of a different model of development (“reinventing capitalism”), stressing the connections between societal and economic progress. In addition, it is clearly an effort that needs to be carried out not only by businesses and Governments, but also by civil society and communities. As such it is entirely in line with how we conceive our work; our tagline says it all: “Together, Building Futures” a good summary for this very essential discussion.

I really hope to build some solid partnerships during this Forum based on the principles of shared values, so we can build a model that brings growth for everyone, everywhere…  Together, Building Futures!



Editors Note
Sebastien Marot, Executive Director, Friends-International, Cambodia; Regional Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Asia, 2009