Social entrepreneur, New York Times bestselling author and charismatic speaker, Marc inspires millions to improve their communities and the world through their actions and everyday consumer choices.
Marc Kielburger is a social entrepreneur and the co-founder of a family of organizations dedicated to the power of WE, a movement of people coming together to change the world. Along with his brother Craig Kielburger, Marc co-founded WE Charity, which provides a holistic development model called WE Villages, helping to lift more than one million people out of poverty in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Back at home in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, WE Schools and WE Day provide comprehensive service learning programs to 10,000 schools, engaging 2.4 million young change-makers. Lastly, he is also the co-founder of ME to WE, a pioneering social enterprise, the profits from which help sustain the work of the charitable organization. His work has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, 60 Minutes and the BBC.
Marc graduated from Harvard University with a degree in International Relations. He won a Rhodes Scholarship and completed a law degree from Oxford University. He has also received 10 honorary doctorates and degrees for his work in the fields of education and human rights. Marc is a New York Times bestselling author, who has published 8 books, as well as a nationally syndicated columnist. He is the recipient of many honors, including the Order of Canada, and was selected by the World Economic Forum as one of the world’s Young Global Leaders. Marc was also recently inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame for his humanitarian efforts and his work to empower youth to change the world. In 2015, along with his brother Craig, he was named Canada’s Most Admired CEO in the public sector.
“I want to leave the world better than I found it. Now I have the added incentive of wanting to do that for my two little girls. I want their opportunities and legacy to be built on the knowledge that the world is heading in a positive direction.”
Marc and WE Charity have created positive initiatives in many countries, but Kenya has held a special place for him since he and his wife spent their honeymoon in the country.
Through the WE Villages program, Marc and WE Charity have improved access to health care and education for thousands of Kenyan children in the Maasai, Kipsigis and Kisii communities.
Part of that success came from selling bracelets unique to the Maasai culture, and using the proceeds to help build schools and hospitals in Kenya. Marc got the idea while visiting with the Maasai, who make and wear the bracelets as a celebration of major life events, like births and marriages.
As Marc describes it in his book WEconomy, this was an important step forward in his understanding of how listening to local people can help philanthropists like himself discover innovative solutions to real-world problems.
“We didn’t reinvent the wheel—we didn’t even reinvent the bracelet,” Marc said. “We simply started with a social problem instead of a product category.”
Entrepreneurs are always struggling to find new and better product ideas, but the Maasai taught Marc the power of “non-traditional thinking” and the importance of investors stepping “outside their comfort zones” to find smart ideas for improving business and the world.
For Marc, this strategy has clearly made a difference in the country that he loves: Kenya.
“We wanted customers to purchase beautiful, handcrafted necklaces that would support mothers in rural Kenya. ME to WE Artisans would offer steady employment and small business training for extremely marginalized women, a source of income to support their families. Plus, partial proceeds from the purchase of Artisans’ goods would support development programs, like building schools and clean water systems in the very region where the women live and work. We call this a “closed-loop system” because proﬁts from purchases of socially-conscious products made in our partner communities return to those same communities.”