To achieve the Global Goals and create a better world, we need digital connectivity – connectivity on a massive scale that only technology can provide. That’s certainly true for the Generation17 Young Leaders. They agree it’s impossible to imagine their organizations having the impact they’ve experienced without the ability to connect with almost anyone, anywhere, anytime.
In our series “How I Use Tech,” Samsung explores how technology enables young changemakers to contribute to the Global Goals. The first installment looked at how these inspirational leaders leverage technology to democratize services for their communities. Today, we’re hearing firsthand about the invaluable role technology plays in connecting co-collaborators around the world.
For Nadine Khaouli, 25, a Young Leader from Lebanon who co-founded Kafe be Kafak to help people live in dignity with basic needs such as food, medication, and shelter, digital connectivity catapulted her organization from concept to reality. And for Máximo Mazzocco, 31, a Young Leader from Argentina who founded Eco House to advocate for the environment, technology turned his one-man, door-to-door operation in Buenos Aires into a scalable, global solution.
Here’s their take on using tech to connect and make meaningful impacts around the world.
When did you realize you could use technology to create and scale a community and take on one of the Global Goals?
Nadine: In April 2020, my friends, Nivine and Sarah, and I were thinking of the people around us in Lebanon who were in extreme hunger and facing dire consequences because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the collapse of the dollar and the lira. We decided to form our organization, Kafe be Kafak, and the first thing we did was create a social media profile on Instagram.
We asked our friends and community to help spread the word. Soon, we were connected with three people who had more NGO experience and could help us. We all had the same values and joined efforts to come up with a beautiful thing.
From there, we continued to grow. Besides the six organization leaders, we have more than 100 volunteers of all ages located and mobilized all over Lebanon. They are helping us with our food and supplies distributions if I can’t travel to other Lebanese districts. And we started to see that the engagement of people on social media was highest when we showcase and highlight how our volunteers are helping. After the blast in Beirut in August 2020, I started highlighting a volunteer of the week. We chose one volunteer each week who was helping us a lot, and people were sharing it among each other, and then more people became involved with us and were aware of our work. Because of technology and social media, we are not only reaching volunteers but also donors, beneficiaries, and families in need. To date, we have reached thousands of families through technology. Building a wide network of young volunteers and spreading positive impact all around are very important for us.
I think that COVID-19 also gave us the opportunity to learn more about technology platforms. I used to travel to another country to deliver a workshop or training about the Global Goals, and now I'm delivering these workshops virtually and am able to reach more people and deliver our best work. For Kafe be Kafak, if we keep raising awareness more and more, in five years, I think we could be on another level – on a global level.
Why is the global connectivity that tech creates so crucial to making progress on the Goals?
Maximo: When I first started my environmental work, I noticed the garbage problem in Buenos Aires, and thought, ‘OK, this is the problem. And what’s the solution? Recycling.’ I investigated the problem for two or three days before developing a brochure that taught people how to recycle. Then, every day for eight months, I went out door to door and talked with every person that I could. More than 400 houses opened the door to me. I was like, ‘OK, what if there were 50 of us, 100 of us, doing this small thing?’
That's when I knew I had to multiply myself. And when you start, and people get involved, you begin to see you’re not alone. You can think bigger and do more. It’s not only my street or my city that we can change – it’s an entire country and eventually the world. We just need the right amount of people doing the right thing.
That’s why technology is so important. Technology gave us the term ‘global citizen.’ Without technology, and the ability to learn from other people facing similar challenges, all I knew was what I have here, around me. Today, my younger nephew is watching videos about life in China, and he has friends in Africa he’s never met. It's amazing.
Today, Eco House is educating more than 70,000 children in Argentina. We partner with companies with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of employees. And we’re continuing to grow. Technology gives us more information and makes collaboration more accessible. It’s the way to start thinking globally and acting locally. That, for me, is the No. 1 premise for everything. Think globally, act locally, and be a global citizen, always. Anywhere that you are.