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Caroline Casey, social entrepreneur Posted on December 3, 2012 by planirl

Caroline Casey, social entrepreneur

Founder of the not-for-profit organisation Kanchi and its pioneering social franchise The Ability Awards, serial social entrepreneur Caroline Casey is driving societal change aimed at nothing less than a complete reframing of disability.  Central to her and Kanchi’s approach is the idea that as a powerful, all-pervasive influence in society, business can lead this change – and lead it well.  And where business succeeds, Caroline believes, the rest of society will naturally follow.   It’s just a question of harnessing and channelling that influence in the right way.    

For Caroline, ‘the right way’ meant leaving her position as a management consultant with Accenture in 2000, trekking 1,000 km across India on an elephant (she may be the only white woman who is also a mahout) and founding Kanchi, which she named after that elephant.  She had a clear vision for the organisation:  to create an inclusive world for people with disabilities by engaging the business and media worlds on their own terms and using language and methodologies they could understand and adopt easily.  Kanchi’s work is helping to shift the focus from what people with disabilities cannot do, to what they can do – as customers, clients, colleagues and employees.   As Caroline says, “society needs to move from models of charity, deficit and dependency to a market-driven approach based on ability, value and contribution.”  And she knows what she is talking about; Caroline is visually impaired to the degree she is registered legally blind, but has never seen or experienced it as a limitation.  

Caroline’s success and vision have seen her win many accolades.  She was the first Irish person to be appointed a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.  She is also an Ashoka Fellow and an Eisenhower Fellow, and holds an honorary doctorate from National University Ireland. Currently she sits on the board of a number of media and charity organisations in Ireland.   She is also co-founder of British conservation charity Elephant Family, which promotes habitat conservation for the Asian elephant. 

Caroline has become a well-known figure in the Irish media world and has also travelled the globe to speak on her leadership work at prestigious events and forums including the Global Competitiveness Forum, the Clinton Global Initiative, Davos and the TED Talks.  She also speaks at corporate events around the world on areas such as leadership, management, motivational and social entrepreneurship.   Her humour, passion and humanity mean she is always worth hearing.

Because I am a Girl I ask…why there is still such an inequality between men and women?

Because I am a Girl I believe…the right attitude and resilience is everything.

Because I am a Girl I hope…that everyone gets the chance to reach their greatest potential.

Because I am a Girl I wonder…why is it when we grow old we lose the creative magic and wonder of childhood?

Because I am a Girl I dream…of being a biker chick!

Because I am a Girl I remember…how good it is to make my parents proud.

Because I am a Girl I like…when I succeed after failing.

Because I am a Girl I dislike…people who judge, are dishonest and are negative.

Because I am a Girl I feel…that I can never get it all done and I’m not good enough to do it.

Because I am a Girl I celebrate…the unique difference of others. 

- Caroline Casey

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