Chair of Executive Committee and Board Trustee, Silatech Founder, International Youth Foundation Rick Little is a “serial social entrepreneur.” He has led the creation of numerous initiatives that now operate in more than 100 countries. His life’s work has focused on building practical and sustainable solutions to large-scale challenges by promoting economic opportunity, job creation and positive youth development.
Little is founder and president of ImagineNations Group. ImagineNations inspires and develops practical strategies that change the odds for people where they work, live and learn. With its expansive network of entrepreneurial partners, leaders, investors, philanthropists and organizations, ImagineNations is helping to bridge deep divides and to address complex, global challenges.
In 2008, Little led the design and establishment of Silatech, an organization chaired by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser of Qatar, to address youth employment across the Middle East and North Africa. He served as Silatech’s founding CEO until June 2011 and is currently chairman of the Executive Committee and a founding member of the Silatech Board of Trustees. Silatech and its partners have helped tens of thousands of young people learn critical skills, connect to job opportunities or create their own small enterprises. Little is also founder of the International Youth Foundation (IYF) and served as its CEO from 1990 to 2002. Today, IYF operates in more than 80 countries, and its global network of partners invests in hundreds of projects in education, health, leadership and employment. Little remains involved in IYF’s efforts as founder and member of its international board.
Further, Little is a member of the board of Mercy Corps and serves on the international advisory boards of the Nike Foundation, the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy and Qatar University’s Social and Economic Survey Research Institute, among others. Little led the design and creation of a pioneering new approach to improving the workplace experience and life opportunities of young adult workers in the global manufacturing supply chains of companies, including Nike and Gap. Called the Global Alliance for Workers and Communities, the effort spread across more than 60 factories in China, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, reaching over 125,000 workers with direct health services, skills training and financial services and incentives.
Formerly, Little was co-chair of the United Nation’s High Level Panel of the Youth Employment Network (YEN), a partnership of the United Nations, International Labour Organization, and World Bank to mobilize action for decent and productive work for young people. In 2008, he was chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Empowering Youth. He was also chairman of the Second Annual Middle East Summit on Corporate Social Responsibility, held in Dubai in 2005. Little was a member of the National Task Force on African-American Men and Boys chaired by Ambassador Andrew Young, which produced a seminal report detailing over 60 recommendations and a 20-year plan to reclaim America’s streets and rebuild its communities, called Repairing the Breach. Little has received numerous awards for his life’s work, including the Presidential Award of the International Association of Lions Clubs, the largest humanitarian service organization in the world. He was named one of the world’s 100 Global Leaders for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum, and was selected by his peers to receive the Robert W. Scrivner Award from the US-based Council on Foundations, an award recognizing innovative leadership as a philanthropist and grantmaker. Little received an Honorary Doctorate degree from Anderson University and was named an international fellow in Applied Developmental Science at Tufts University.