The Editor’s Post: Using anger as fuel for social change in 2024

From Muhammad Yunus’ conviction to the closure of Social Impact Ireland, we explore how setbacks in our impact journey can be used to fuel further change. Plus, the UK’s 2024 New Year Honours List awards changemakers from around the country. This week’s view from the Pioneers Post newsroom. 

The welcoming of a new year usually evokes gratitude and optimism, two qualities that are invaluable for social entrepreneurs. This year, however, some in the impact community had their high spirits dampened by the news of Professor Muhammad Yunus’ conviction.

The beloved microfinance pioneer, who has been credited with lifting millions of people out of poverty, and referred to as “one of the founding fathers of the modern social enterprise movement” by Social Enterprise UK’s CEO Peter Holbrook, has now been released on bail as he appeals to have the conviction turned over.  

In the meantime, his supporters, including Holbrook and Saskia Bruysten, co-founder of Yunus Social Business, have offered words of wisdom to the impact community.

Holbrook reminds us that Yunus’s case should “serve as a real warning” that truly disrupting systems of inequality and corruption inherently invites the risk of persecution from “existing sources of power”. 

Rather than this deterring impact leaders, however, Bruysten emphasises that this is a signal to use this anger to fuel more “positive work for social change”.

The notion of using discontent as a catalyst for change can only set the social business sector on a promising path for 2024

The spirited calls to action of both impact leaders, particularly in the face of Yunus’ prosecution, is a testament to the unwavering resilience and sense of hope within the global impact community. The notion of using discontent as a catalyst for change can only set the social business sector on a promising path for 2024.

Also standing the impact community in good stead this new year was the UK’s 2024 New Year Honours List, which was announced by the government at the end of December, David Lyons reports. The list recognised changemakers from around the UK, who have been awarded OBEs, CBEs and MBEs for their public service. 

Among the honourees were Lucy Ferguson, founder and director of Mediorite, and Bayo Adelaja, founder and CEO of Do It Now Now. These two social entrepreneurs are alumni of the Pioneers Post NatWest WISE100 list of leading women in social enterprise and impact investment. Don’t miss out on your or a colleague’s chance to be part of this prestigious group: click here to apply for the 2024 WISE100 Awards by Sunday 28 January.

Cementing the bittersweet start to the year for the impact community, Social Impact Ireland, which provided support for social enterprises across the country, announced that it has closed.

Carrying forward the spirit of taking the good from the bad, co-founder and director, Pauline Gannon, said that although the  decision to close down was “difficult”, it “opens up opportunities to reassess and redirect efforts” to solve the challenges in the sector.


This week's top stories

Muhammad Yunus supporters urge impact community to ‘turn anger into positive work’ following microfinance pioneer’s conviction

Social Impact Ireland closes as director points to over-reliance on grants among country’s social enterprises

Social entrepreneurs and impact leaders recognised in UK’s New Year Honours list 2024


Top photo: Displeased woman using megaphone and shouting at a protest  (courtesy of Freepik)