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The Swiss Pavillion Expo 2017 Astana is committed to the SDGs. From 13 to 27 July, it develops several activities in order to raise awareness about the challenges of building a better future for the next generations.

Horyou CEO and founder, Yonathan Parienti, with Swiss Pavilion visitors (Photo Swiss pavilion)
Horyou CEO and founder, Yonathan Parienti, with Swiss Pavilion visitors (Photo Swiss pavilion)

The Swiss pavilion, organized by Presence Switzerland, showcases the Confederation as an innovative country with an interactive and surprising exhibition on the issues of energy efficiency, renewable energies and global water management. As part of the Swiss Pavillion, the Swissnex Lab is dedicated to thematic immersion and networking, in order to facilitate bilateral cooperation and academic exchange between Switzerland and Kazakhstan.

One of the activities, Perception Change Project, includes a temporary installation with a wheel of fortune that introduces sustainable development, a Human Library involving innovators and presenting a talk on Education and Innovation with experts and changemakers.

Horyou Team attended an event on Education & Innovation on July 18, 2017, and had the opportunity to hear unique stories from speakers invited by the Perception Change Project in cooperation with partner organizations, notably the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the Kazakhstan Institute of Standardization and Certification, the UNICEF Kazakhstan and its Liaison Office in Geneva, the University of Geneva, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). «Horyou Team was excited to see the commitment of the Swiss Pavilion to promoting the sustainable development goals in Astana. We share the same resolve to shape better times to come, and SIGEF 2017 in Kazakhstan will be our initiative during EXPO2017 to support that momentum of awareness and implementation», said Yonathan Parienti, founder and CEO of Horyou.

Horyou team visits the Swiss Pavillion at EXPO2017 in Kazakhstan
Horyou team visits the Swiss Pavillion at EXPO2017 in Kazakhstan

The event was followed by a project called “Human Books”, whereby people shared their stories with the public, creating empathy by touching on topics such as climate change and education in emergency situations and refugee camps. One of the touching stories was Isaac Mustopulo’s, a 15-year old student from Kazakhstan who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and, despite all odds, has finished 8th grade at a local school in Taraz where he excels academically and is actively involved in extracurricular activities. He is an advocate for inclusion and is working on a project that would introduce tutors to public schools for students with disabilities.

“Sustainable Development Goals are not only the UN’s or governments’ business, we all have a role to play in achieving them. The topics related to the SDGs and the work of organisations in Geneva and elsewhere can be illustrated in a playful manner and through storytelling. We are delighted to be a part of Expo 2017 Astana”, said the Head of Project, Aziyadé Poltier-Mutal.

More than 700 people visited the Swiss Pavilion on its first day
More than 700 people visited the Swiss Pavilion on its first day

Finally, the Education & Innovation Talk session opened a dialogue between several thought leaders. Ms Tatiana Aderikhina from the Education and Child Protection at UNICEF shared how an equity–focused and inclusive approach starting from early childhood education can have positive impact toward social inclusion and reduce the numbers of unschooled children. Mr Zhasulan Kenzhegalyiev, a specialist from the International Cooperation Department of the Unified Government Fund of Normative outlined how Astana is leading the way in SmartCities and how this can benefit both the population and the overall sustainability efficiency. Prof Barbara Moser-Mercer, from the University of Geneva, a specialist in higher education in emergency and crises situations, expressed how connected learning builds the knowledge and skills needed to adapt, and how that could prove to be a key factor in the development of higher education for people victims of conflict situations within refugees camps. Ms Ekaterina Perfilyeva, editor in chief of the Open School of Sustainable Development, shared how through volunteering to support facilitation of translation and sharing of knowledge and meaningful information we could advocate a better understanding and implementation of sustainability principles with the Youth.

The overall discussion from the panelists with the audience, outlined the fact that there are numerous synergies and initiatives that could support the achievement of SDG 4, related to Education.

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

The Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum organized by Horyou will discuss Future Energy, Smart Cities, SDGs, and lead official delegation to EXPO 2017 Astana

SIGEF 2017 will take place in Astana, Kazakhstan
SIGEF 2017 will take place in Astana, Kazakhstan

Horyou, the Social Network for Social Good, announces the 4th edition of SIGEF, the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum. The world-class event will take place on the 5th of September 2017, at Rixos President Astana Hotel in Astana, Kazakhstan. It will be followed by an official delegation’s visit to EXPO 2017 on the 6th and 7th of September.

With a team of top-class international speakers, panellists and moderators, SIGEF will cover three of the most critical issues of our time – Smart Cities, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Future Energy. «With SIGEF, Horyou is committed to encourage multi-stakeholders to gather, interact, and establish partnerships to shape better times to come. SIGEF will bring together social entrepreneurs, impact investors, philanthropists, government officials and representatives from civil society, to spread the message that we can all be changemakers», says Yonathan Parienti, founder and CEO of Horyou.

Opening ceremony of SIGEF 2016 with Yonathan Parienti, Founder of Horyou, H.E Rosalie Matondo, Minister of Environment Republic of Congo, Dr. Ali Bin Samikh Al Marri, Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) in Qatar, HRH Prince Nawaf bin Saad al Saud, Chairman of the Al-Hilal Saudi football club and Yasuhiro Yamamoto, President of Eneco Holdings.
Opening ceremony of SIGEF 2016 with Yonathan Parienti, Founder of Horyou, H.E Rosalie Matondo, Minister of Environment Republic of Congo, Dr. Ali Bin Samikh Al Marri, Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) in Qatar, HRH Prince Nawaf bin Saad al Saud, Chairman of the Al-Hilal Saudi football club and Yasuhiro Yamamoto, President of Eneco Holdings.

Last year, SIGEF was the leading side event at the UN COP22, in Marrakesh, Morocco. The 3-day conference was attended by a 2500-wide international audience, while offering a space for non-profit organizations from all around the world, staging artistic acts, organizing an Horyou Foundation dinner, and presenting an award for social impact projects. It was the first SIGEF to be held out of Europe and in Africa.

This year, reinforcing its global presence and impact, Horyou is organizing the first SIGEF in Central Asia, with an agenda of discussions deeply anchored in the future of our interconnected societies. At the opening and end of the one-day SIGEF conference, the participants will have the opportunity to meet and greet some of the most important players in social entrepreneurship, as well as business leaders, funders and government officials, during a special networking session.

On the 6th and 7th of September, Horyou and the SIGEF team will lead an official visit to the country pavilions of EXPO 2017 Astana, the biggest future energy gathering this year. «We are thrilled to bring our SIGEF international delegations to connect with participants from all continents who are attending EXPO 2017 Astana, to build bridges of collaboration and foster sustainable solutions that will benefit our societies», says Parienti.

More information on The agenda can be consulted here. Click to apply for speaking and to buy your ticket for SIGEF 2017.

About Horyou

Horyou is the social network for social good. Through technology, innovation and social entrepreneurship advocacy, it promotes meaningful and global interactions amongst its adherent organizations, members and personalities. With its platform, App and Spotlight, the first Global Social Currency for Impact, Horyou helps transform positive ideas into concrete actions while building constructive relationships both online and offline.

The Horyou App is available for free download via iOS and Android.

For more information visit

An active member of our platform and an engaged social enterprise, beyondBeanie was created in 2014 to support Bolivian women artisans by re-selling their products and reverting part of the profits to social projects. In the following interview, Beyond Beanie’s founder, Hector Alvarez, tells us his story, makes plans for the future and talks about the importance of social entrepreneurship. An awarded member of SIGEF, Hector shares his experience of our most awaited event!

The beyongBeanie team with Bolivian children
The beyongBeanie team with Bolivian children

– What’s the story behind the foundation of beyondBeanie?

In summer of 2013, I travelled to Bolivia to go on a backpacking trip together with my wife and friends, among whom was Paty, a long-time friend and co-founder of the project.  While there, I noticed that there were a lot of women doing knitted handicrafts such as beanies and scarves on the streets of La Paz and the way they made their living was through the sale of these items to tourists. I could see that their lives were not easy.

I bought a handful of different hats from a few different artisans which I took back to Europe to give as souvenirs to my friends and family. While I was giving them my gifts, I talked to them about my experience lived in Bolivia as well as showed them pictures of the women who made these products. My friends immediately found this a cool concept to actually know who made their beanie. This positive reaction from my friends gave me motivation to want to start a social enterprise which would help provide much needed jobs to artisans in Bolivia. After a lot of planning, bB was finally born in March 2014.   

In addition to empowering artisans, Paty and I decided to expand the concept to not just provide work to artisans but also to help street and orphan children with every item sold. That’s how they idea of 1 hat = 5 meals was born which then expanded to other products, such as as bags = school supplies, bracelets = dental care, etc.

Bolivian artisans working on their products
Bolivian artisans working on their products

– You have a strong link with Bolivian artisans. How have you been supporting them with the project?

The artisans who make our products are all women from difficult backgrounds, such as women who have been abandoned by their husbands or boyfriends with two to five children to raise as single mothers or women who have had no opportunity to get an education and can barely read and write.

Through beyondBeanie, we are able to provide these women with the opportunity to work from home while taking care of their children.  Furthermore, we also support their children with school supplies, school uniforms, meals etc.

– How do you think you can empower these artists by selling their products?

One of the important issues which we wanted to do with bB was to not just provide our artisans with work, but also to help boost their self-esteem. When we first met, many of our artisans were quite shy and had very little pride in their work. In fact, many of them had nobody ever tell them that they have an incredible talent and that they do an amazing job. Therefore, in the same way as for example a painter signs his/her paint, each one of our artisans signs her finished product. Then, clients have the opportunity to meet their artisans through our site and even send thank-you letter if they want. This whole mechanism, while quite simple, plays an extremely powerful role in boosting our artisans’ self esteem.

The project boosts the self-esteem of the artisans
The project boosts the self-esteem of the artisans

– What was your biggest accomplishment with beyondBeanie?

The biggest accomplishment is seeing how our work is helping to make a difference in the lives of our artisans, as well as seeing the lives changed of the children we support with the help of our supporters. Thanks to our fans and customers, we’ve been able to provide over 10,000 meals and are currently able to give work to about 25 artisans. Our next stage is to increase our presence at retail outlets in the USA and Europe. For this, we are networking with different agents distributors and shop owners.  

– Do you believe sustainable businesses are the future of capitalism?

I do believe so. Thanks to the internet, nowadays, people are more and more aware about everything which is going on in the world and want to play a more active role in helping change the world for the better. Companies which facilitate this role to consumers will have a clear advantage over those companies who don’t.

beyondBeanie supports  children with school supplies, school uniforms and meals
beyondBeanie supports children with school supplies, school uniforms and meals

– Horyou is now organising the 3rd edition of SIGEF. You were awarded a prize in 2014, and last year you were part of the jury. How do you evaluate SIGEF and its impact on organizations worldwide?

For us, SIGEF 2014 was key to validate our business concept as well as to have much needed initial capital to start our first production of winter hats. This is aside the incredible networking which we did with like-minded individuals. SIGEF 2015 was equally important for us! It was a great honor to be invited to be part of the jury.

I really believe that SIGEF is a great portal to network with fellow changemakers, validate ideas and even find funding!

By Vívian Soares

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