Because this big idea is helping change the conversation around poverty — and OZY helped make it happen.
Every year, OZY gives 10 college students the opportunity to pursue their outstanding ideas and envisioned innovations with grants of up to $10,000. The OZY Genius Awards aim to support and celebrate the next Albert Einstein or Oprah Winfrey as they write groundbreaking books, film thought-provoking documentaries, launch tomorrow’s industry-disrupting companies or create the next game-changing social movement. Applications for the 2021 OZY Genius Awards are now open — learn more and apply today.
After immigrating to Canada from South Korea as a child, Daniel Kang heard a similar refrain from the people around him: Leadership has no qualifier and needs no degree.
But the young man of modest means knew in his heart it wasn’t that easy. So he headed to McGill University to study commerce, finance and international business, and before he earned his degree, he won an OZY Genius Award in 2015. His big winning idea was to exterminate poverty for 3 million elderly people in Korea by publishing an interactive research paper to influence Korean pension reform.
The idea struck him while visiting his grandmother in South Korea. She carried cardboard boxes to recycling centers to get her daily allowance of money for food — a stark contrast to the comforts he saw elderly people in Canada enjoying.
“I’d like to think of OZY as the first investor in my potential,” he quips. “The award made me believe in myself — and that I could run something on my own despite not being in charge of some big NGO or platform.”
Did his winning idea succeed? Did he get to present his findings to the National Assembly of South Korea? “I can’t say I drove the change [I wanted],” Kang says, acknowledging that his research didn’t lead to the desired outcome. But there have been internal reforms in the Korean pension system since he presented his work to South Korean financial auditors, and Kang was excited to see that the “the problems I pointed out in the paper turned out to be correct.” And he still aims to make an impact globally: The 26-year-old is currently pursuing a master’s in public policy at Oxford, where he’s learning more about driving access to capital among the less fortunate.
With OZY’s Genius Awards, Kang learned the importance that technology and sustainable capital have on scaling impact. He’s since worked in investments at SoftBank Vision Fund.
In the future, Kang plans to address the accessible capital problem in an underserved market, namely the passion economy, by starting a new company. He’s currently raising capital in a pre-seed round. The plan? To provide predictable financing to creators and influencers for growth and financial stability while also helping fans and investors share the gains.
OZY’s Genius Awards dared Kang to think big, and he’s taking the steps needed — getting a degree or two was a good idea after all — to realize his dreams.