2014 Press Releases

In search of social entrepreneurs

4 Feb 2014
Photographed L-R were Professor Fred Powell, Professor of Social Policy, Dean of Social Science & Head of School Applied Social Studies, Trevor Holmes, Vice-President for External Relations, UCC, guest speaker John O' Shea, Pádraig Haughney, President, UCC Student's Union, and Dr. Paul Conway, Director, CGD and School of Education (Photo by Tomas Tyner, UCC).

Humanitarian John O’Shea gave an inspiring talk to the students of UCC on Monday (3 February 2014) around the merits of becoming a social entrepreneur. 

The prospect of the next Mandela, Bono, Bill Clinton, Jeroo Billimoria (founder of Childline) or Gandhi lying undiscovered among the thousands of third level students across the country is an intriguing one. John’s aim was to draw out the next generation of this particular type of leader - or rather social entrepreneur – during the free lunchtime lecture to UCC students.

John, no stranger to the feats that social entrepreneurship requires and well known for his passion and plain speaking in the area, founded the internationally recognised humanitarian agency GOAL in 1977 and has helped raise in excess of one billion dollars for the alleviation of suffering among some of the poorest and most underprivileged people on the planet.

This lecture, which was organised by UCC and the UCC Students’ Union as part of its Social Responsibility and Engagement Program, saw John speak on a number of topics in a bid to inspire students and let them know that they too can make their voices heard:

· The importance of social entrepreneurship in the context of improving the lot of the downtrodden in the developing world.
· How the international community has responded to the many humanitarian disasters that have occurred since 1977, and what steps it could take, provided the will is there, to alleviate the suffering of millions.
· How a sports journalist, thirty five years ago, became obsessed with trying to find a way to help some of those in greatest need and the trials and tribulations he encountered along the way.

Ahead of the event, John commented: “The poorest of the poor, who populate this unfair world, owe much to such trail blazers as Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank, Jeroo Billlimoria, who started ‘Childline’, James Grant of UNICEF, Fabio Rosa, a champion for the provision of solar energy to the poor villagers to rural Brazil … the list is hugely impressive.”

“Since I was a person with no obvious qualifications for the role of CEO of a humanitarian agency, my story, as well as the stories of some of the others, might encourage further interest on the part of students in this most vital of causes. A single individual, blessed with passion, integrity of purpose, fierce determination to succeed, and persuasive powers, can, I am convinced, make a meaningful contribution in the on-going battle against abject poverty and deprivation in the Forgotten World.”

Pádraig Haughney, President, UCC Students' Union said: “This was a great opportunity for students to listen and learn from a man who has achieved great things throughout his life, and who brings huge life experience advice and guidance to the young, ambitious, determined generation today." 

John, who has 35 years of experience in bringing aid to deprived people in over 50 poverty stricken countries throughout the developing world, hopes to lecture at other third level institutions to this same end in the coming months and year. 

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