Harvey Keh, director for youth leadership and social entrepreneurship at Ateneo de Manila University’s School of Government. Photo by: Devex

Education reform champion. Good governance advocate. Social entrepreneur. Media practitioner.

Harvey Keh has won accolades for much of his work, although at least once, his passion for social change landed him in hot waters.

Since 2002, he founded or co-founded at least four organizations, including the Ford Foundation-backed Pathways to Higher Education in 2002. He is currently the director of a program at Ateneo de Manila University’s School of Government that promotes youth leadership and social entrepreneurship.

Keh is one the most influential development leaders aged 40 and under in Manila.

Devex is recognizing 40 of these young trailblazers in international development. They are social entrepreneurs, government leaders, development consultants, business innovators, advocates, development researchers, nonprofit executives and journalists.

We spoke with Keh about his work and his advice to young people who want to make a difference.

How can the aid community and education reform advocates forge more effective partnerships with the private sector to close gaps in the education system?

I think the key here is to have constant communication between aid agencies, government, nonprofit organizations, academe and the business sector. There should be synergy of resources and initiatives since resources especially here in our county are very limited but the social problems particularly in education are big. What we want to avoid is that there are duplication of efforts in the same areas which will just put resources to waste.

Aside from this, there should also be regular national education summits held in different parts of the country to bring together all the groups and organizations that are currently engaged in education reform work. The summits should provide venues for knowledge sharing and networking because this can be the start of creating initiatives for collaboration and cooperation.

In less than 10 years, you’ve been able to co-found four organizations that are making an impact on the country’s development. What advice would you have for young people who want to make a similar contribution?

My biggest advice would be to find what you are most passionate about and continue to work toward making a difference in our society. Don’t be afraid to take risks because the worse that can happen to you is paralysis because of overanalysis.

There will be a lot of challenges and failures but the most important thing is to never give up and to always keep your vision for our country in mind.

Also, it would really help if you are able to regularly talk to an experienced mentor who can help guide you and give you good advice in becoming a better leader.

How can social media and technology help social enterprises create a bigger impact on development?

Social media can be a venue for crowdsourcing and enabling more development-sector leaders and social entrepreneurs from all over the world to collaborate, learn and support each other.

Aside from this, social media provides social entrepreneurs an easy and free platform to promote their products and their work so that they can continue to engage and get support the general public.

Read more about the Devex 40 Under 40 International Development Leaders in Manila.

About the author

  • Devex Editor

    Thanks a lot for your interest in Devex News. To share news and views, story ideas and press releases, please email editor@devex.com. We look forward to hearing from you.