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U2's Bono on the Importance of Social Enterprise - GSEI Internship at ONE Announced

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By: Kimberly Lam MBA’14

Through a partnership between the Global Social Enterprise Initiative and its founding partner Bank of America, Georgetown University hosted musician and activist Bono on November 12. Held in the University’s Gaston Hall, the acclaimed U2 artist addressed an optimistic crowd on the importance of social enterprise and the power of social movements to create change.

Before Bono spoke, GSEI student leader Ammu Menon opened the event, speaking about the lessons she’s learned through GSEI in factoring both economic and social value when doing business. Georgetown President Jack DeGioia touched on the importance of working across all sectors – academic, government, corporate and non-profit – to prepare current and future leaders to create social and economic value.

Bank of America’s CEO Brian Moynihan also took the stage discussing the power of partnership that brings everyone together to achieve a common goal. He noted GSEI was built on the idea that business success and global good are not mutually exclusive, but common goals. Moynihan stated, “While I can’t partner with Bono in the music studio, I can partner with him to help make millions of people’s lives better around the world. It’s a responsibility that we take seriously at Bank of America. It’s a responsibility that Georgetown takes seriously in its Jesuit tradition and it’s a responsibility that Bono takes seriously in all that he has done.”

Moynihan also announced five GSEI internships for Georgetown students to work at ONE* in summer 2013, supported by Bank of America. Application process will be opened in January.

Bono opened his keynote address urging society to “choose its enemies wisely” and to focus on issues that matter, such as malaria and HIV transmission. However, his discussion centered on extreme poverty, touching on the power of the current generation to resolve this issue, specifically in Africa.

The future of Africa resonated as a theme throughout the keynote address as he convinced the audience that Africa needs to become an economic powerhouse to fulfill its potential.

“Enter, the Nerd!” Bono stated.  He noted African innovators and programmers are changing the game and commented on the power of technology to turbo charge social movements. He argued that technology is increasing transparency and information, which is opening the way for change.

But Bono was clear to reiterate that technology doesn’t accomplish change on its own and it’s the human element and individual citizens that drive change. He urged that social movements and social enterprise move the dial, stating, “It’s a simple equation: inside pressure, outside movement.”

Bono closed telling students, “We need you” engaged in the fight, noting “the power of the people is much stronger than the people in power.”

Georgetown students filled the seats at the event. They were joined by special guests, including Representative Nancy Pelosi and Senator Pat Leahy, who were commended for their social impact work. Art Vilassakdanont, student leader for GSEI noted, “Bono was amazing. His speech provided a great call to action for all of us. His statement that aid to Africa is an act of justice and not an act of charity changed my mindset on how I think about international development. I will carry this through my future business endeavors.”

The event also marked the unofficial start to the Washington Ideas Forum put on by the The Atlantic, which also served as a media partner for the event. 



*ONE is a grassroots advocacy and campaigning organization that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa, by raising public awareness and pressuring political leaders to support smart and effective policies and programs that are saving lives, helping to put kids in school and improving futures. Cofounded by Bono and other campaigners, ONE is nonpartisan and works closely with African activists and policy makers.