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Elliot Costello Steps Down From ygap

25 May 2018 at 4:39 pm
Estelle Stathoulis
Elliot Costello has announced he’s stepping down as CEO of social enterprise ygap (Y-generation Against Poverty), coinciding with the enterprise’s 10th anniversary.

Estelle Stathoulis | 25 May 2018 at 4:39 pm


Elliot Costello Steps Down From ygap
25 May 2018 at 4:39 pm

His decision to step down was announced on Wednesday, at the same time as revealing that current COO Manita Ray will be taking over.

Costello said he had “no doubt” Ray, who first joined ygap in 2016 and instigated the expansion of ygap’s staff to over 20 people in five different countries, would do a great job.

“Personally, as CEO I’ve been more of the type of entrepreneur who likes to take risks but I think it’s time ygap had a more vertical approach to its growth and I have no doubt Manita will do a great job,” Costello said.

Costello will still remain on the board for ygap.

He spoke to Pro Bono about the notable highs and lows ygap faced during his time as CEO.

Under Costello’s leadership, ygap has undertaken several successful campaigns, including the recent Polished Man campaign, where participants showed their solidarity against child violence and violent behaviour by painting one fingernail with nail polish.

“We had more than 10,000 people sign up to the campaign last year and raised $1.65 million. We were fortunate enough to have a lot of people get behind this campaign, including people such as Vance Joy, Chris Hemsworth and most recently, our Prime Minister Turnbull,” Costello said.

When speaking of some of the “lows”, Costello recounted the horror he felt in 2010 when he learned that 10 of his volunteers had been taken hostage during a project in Ghana.

“Our project manager took 10 of our volunteers into a situation in Ghana that we thought was safe and resulted in them being held hostage there was a bit of a communication break down about why those volunteers were there,” he said.

“I wasn’t there myself, I had just come back from another venture in Rwanda yet I remember not getting much sleep at the time.”

Costello was just 23 years of age when he co-founded ygap, following a volunteer experience in Africa helping locals to build schools in their communities.

For any young and up-and-coming entrepreneur hopefuls out there, Costello said they should “just get started.”

“I think that every young person has altruistic fibres within them that wants to bring about change,” he said.

“I would strongly recommend doing your research and finding out if there’s a group around already you could join as this saves you the time in building up a company yourself. Spend some time educating yourself on the state of an issue and do what you can to think of ways you can go about getting towards making a change. “Basically, roll up your sleeves and get out there and surround yourself with a tribe of like-minded people who share the same goals as you do.”

Over the past decade, Costello said he had seen a constant evolution happen within social enterprises and admitted to being “a little jealous” of all the tools and companies available to young entrepreneurs today.

“It’s an exciting time and I think in the next five to 10 years we’ll see such an incredible amount of social problems being solved by the unlocking of unique capital in the market,” he said.

Costello’s new position as a member of the board of ygap will allow him to revisit the various African regions that have played host to ygap volunteers in the past.

“In my transition from CEO of ygap I am going to be on our board and chair of our fundraising committee and later this year we’re taking a group of our ‘10 by 10 donors’ and these ‘10 by 10 donors’ are our 10 biggest supporters.

“We’re embarking on our 10th birthday to South Africa to see some of our best ventures.“I’m stepping down as CEO but still staying involved in the organisation and I look forward to being in South Africa with some of our supporters later this year.”

As for the future, Costello admitted the next step was still unknown.

“I am stepping back, it’s unknown where I’m going to go but I think for me I’m going to lean towards maybe a little bit of education and some down time away from leadership and management and the pressures of running a company for 12 months or so before I think about launching a new social venture,” he said.

“There’s a few ideas in the pipeline but I want a proper break before I launch something new.

As a final word, Costello wished to reassure the organisation’s supporters the change was a good thing.

“I would like to offer warm encouragement to the public that the organisation is in a really healthy space and this is a positive transition and change at the top and any information is available on our website which is,” he said.

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