We believe that significant change starts with the smallest step. An idea, moment of inspiration, or simple action can set something powerful in motion. These are the inspiring stories of young people just starting out as social entrepreneurs and corporate changemakers -- people who are taking their own small steps to make a big difference at work, in their communities, and for the world.
After Emily Kiely graduated from college, she wanted to do something to make change in the world. But she couldn’t exactly take off and join the Peace Corps—she had financial obligations. So she went to work for PepsiCo. But Emily didn’t lose her desire to do good, and she began talking with her coworkers about it. Quickly, she realized she wasn’t alone. “I knew that energetic, smart people existed in PepsiCo that had this kind of passion, but at the same time loved their jobs,” Emily says. A small group began meeting regularly to talk about ideas for a global, skill-based volunteer program at PepsiCo to tackle societal problems core to PepsiCo’s business, like water, sustainable agriculture and health and wellness.
The next step was seizing an opportunity to speak with the CEO and to her surprise, the CEO said to go for it. Emily and her colleagues began to fine-tune their ideas, and even went on an internal “road show” to make sure their proposal was in top shape before showing it to top brass.
It took a year, and a lot of late nights after her regular work was completed, but in 2011 Emily was among the co-founders to launch PepsiCorps, a month-long international service-based assignment for PepsiCo employees. With clean water projects last year in Ghana and this year in India along with a nutrition and sustainable agriculture program in the Pueblo Nation in New Mexico, PepsiCorps gives working professionals like Emily a chance to get out in the world, engage in a purpose-filled project, and bring learnings and skills back to the business. (Read more about the process of creating PepsiCorps on the Net Impact blog.)
For Emily, the success of PepsiCorps within a corporate workplace demonstrates that “you can find the right way to give back, and you can weave it into what works for your life,” she says. “Look for ways you can do those small things, look for other people who want to do them too, and it adds up and becomes possible.”
Alma Mater: Georgetown University
Enterprise: PepsiCorps at PepsiCo
Base: Minneapolis, MN