He noted the recent success of the UNC-born Nourish International, which has evolved into a multi-chapter organization that is building community centers in Thailand.
The group achieved widespread success after winning GlobalGiving’s challenge, which awarded a grant to the project idea that accumulated the most donors.
Whittle said today’s students, particularly at UNC, will lead the charge to develop new initiatives and aid programs like Nourish International.
“Students have the ability to use their skills in social networking and technology to decrease the burdens and costs that underdeveloped people face,” he said.
Though he never planned to go into social entrepreneurship, Whittle said his work at the World Bank showed him that individuals can use their ideas to have an impact.
And he advised the crowd not to be bound by the fear that a big idea cannot be accomplished.
“Getting ideas out there is the most powerful thing you can do. You’d be surprised at how few people actually take action and attempt to solve some of the world’s problems,” he said.
He said the Internet and other innovations enable people to reach out with their ideas and try to get their projects funded.
Morgan Abbott, a junior who founded Carolina for Amani — a group that brings 12 UNC students to Kenya each summer to support orphanages and education — said groups like GlobalGiving are crucial for social organizations.
“So many non-profits start up and then fail within a few years. They need the financial stability of accessing available donors,” she said.
Buck Goldstein, the University entrepreneur-in-residence and organizer of the event, said he hopes to inspire students with the lecture.
“Dennis reinvented philanthropy and aid with GlobalGiving. He was a student just like they are,” said Goldstein, who co-authored the book “Engines of Innovation: The Entrepreneurial University in the Twenty-First Century” with Chancellor Holden Thorp.
“This provides validation to students to support cultural change on a small scale that could someday target larger issues.”
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