Barcelona

Professor Steven MacGregor is a social innovator who has been teaching, researching and publishing about unorthodox topics such as personal sustainability and sustainable leadership. About a decade ago, he founded of The Leadership Academy of Barcelona of which he is the CEO, and for more than 15 years, he has been contending that companies should not only be money making machines. We are happy to feature Professor MacGregor as one of our Changemakers!

Part of the LAB team in Barcelona

When was the LAB founded?

The LAB was founded in 2007, when I was directing a research project on CSR and teaching on executive education programs at IESE Business School. The project was one of the first European funded efforts with a specific focus on CSR and innovation, while my teaching focused on the health and wellbeing of executives, which I viewed as personal sustainability. I felt my take on sustainability, as an aggregate of both these areas, was unique enough to take the plunge and start a company. The defining thought for me at the time was that sustainable companies couldn’t be built on people who weren’t sustainable themselves. Essentially, it’s about bringing a more human approach to business.

What does sustainable leadership stand for and why did The LAB start to develop projects and training in this area of expertise?

Most of what we’ve done in the past 10 years has been centered on the health, well-being and performance of people at work. We’ve had aspects including mindfulness, fitness, nutrition, and sleep coaching in our programs during that time. Of course, we need to manage and lead ourselves better before we can lead others. We train people to be inspiring, energetic and engaging leaders who get the best out of their people. I think that many have forgotten the simple fact that leadership is about others. Considering our basic human needs is an effective way of doing that.

Can you present some of societyLAB’s current projects?

Most of our engagements tend to come in the healthLAB and designLAB. Societal issues are integrated within these projects, for example in areas such as talent management, client experience and workspace design; but scaling up societyLAB is a big objective this year. Our idea is to focus on the area of societal wellbeing. One specific idea that we’re pursuing is using behaviour change tools to nudge peoples’ behaviour in areas such as alcohol consumption.

Steven MacGregor

What are your goals for 2018?

Using more sophisticated behaviour change tools is something we’ve been looking at for several years. These tools represent cutting-edge machine learning and algorithm development and will allow us greater insight into what works in the classroom and how we can better design our work and home environments to be happier and healthier. We make the case for wellbeing at work to be a more strategic concern. More generally, we simply want to keep having an impact on peoples’ lives.

Do you believe companies are now convinced that CSR can make both social impact and profits? How do you evaluate the current state of corporate involvement with environmental and social issues?

Most of the leading companies are now convinced yes, though they may not call it CSR. There is a deeper awareness of the contract that business has with society. How that manifests itself changes from company to company. In general, organizations are realizing the key role they play in peoples’ lives; and by engaging with them more closely – be they employees, customers or the wider community -, they know they will add value to the business in the long term and protect themselves (as much as possible) from the dangers of disruption.

Horyou is the social network for social good. What is the role of the internet and social media in influencing our companies to be more sustainable and socially conscious?

Transparency and talent. Companies can no longer get away with fancy words that are not matched by deeds. The younger generation is automatically attuned to social good in a way probably never seen before and they will hold enterprises accountable to a new way of doing business, if not directly, then certainly with how they choose to spend their talents. Even the biggest and brightest companies can no longer count on brand prestige or history to attract the best talent. People want to invest their time in something bigger than themselves.

Changemakers is an Horyou initiative which aims to highlight remarkable people & projects related to the Sustainable Development Goals. In this article, we shed a light over #SDG8 – Decent work and economic growth.

Social Entrepreneurship Is Taking Over the Startup Ecosystem

Versión en Español a continuación

Family photo of Google Actívate Barcelona

I got to the University of Barcelona on Monday morning for the first day of my entrepreneurship training. I was already familiar with the model – a few months ago, I travelled to Bilbao to attend a digital marketing course, hosted by the local university and organized by Google Actívate, a training division of the technology giant in Spain which offers free courses to people interested in the startup and digital worlds. I was curious, though, about this one. How to train an entrepreneur in three days?

The 300 people in the auditorium were advised: don’t give up, you won’t regret it! Becoming an entrepreneur is tough, the Google ambassador says, but you have to deal with the turnarounds of the business world. OK, I got the message.

I was part of Group 22 (out of 29) of participants that mostly came from other countries, except for two Spanish girls (one of whom left for lunch and never came back). A mixed and international group with very different backgrounds, including a nurse, a musician, a designer, a DJ, a salesman, a student, a hospitality executive and me.

On the first assignment, we were all invited to tell the rest of us about our passions, what we think the world needs, and what are the trends for the future. And, over and above all this, decide which challenge we want to address over our 3 working days.

Then a surprise came.

Out of all 29 groups, only one decided not to take the social entrepreneurship path. As for the rest of our “colleagues” on that very first morning, they were all convinced that the issues the world faces and the trends for the future are all related to our passions, namely: healthy food, better relationships, smart cities, safe environment, gender equality. Which convinced me that there is a new generation of entrepreneurs, more interested in making the world a better place than on making blind profits.

The next two days took the path every training takes: lots of theory, some practical tasks, presentations, discussions. People trying to work together, pitching, business canvasing, and having beers after all this. Group work and personal growth. Motivational business cases, personal advices. I had to learn to change opinions many times, overcome my rusty Spanish and try to sell our idea to people in the streets. I heard I say ‘no’ too many times and this is not good for me, neither is it for the group. I had meaningful conversations with amazing people during lunch.

On the last day, everybody was excited to pitch their ideas to the other groups. ‘Google may buy it’, some hoped. ‘We’re taking this further’, many others planned. Most of them were deeply in love with their projects, passionate about the positive difference they can bring to their communities or to the planet. I for one, have to confess I was completely excited with ours – an app that can choose the fastest, cheapest or cleanest means of transportation for a given destination, according to your priorities. We might decide to take that one further.

I left an hour before the end of the training (yes, I broke the deal), feeling hopeful about us as a society. I felt that social entrepreneurship is taking over the startup world, which is the seed for a better business world. Young and old, Europeans and Latin Americans, executives and musicians, we’re all working for the social good. There’s hope.

Written by Vívian Soares

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El Emprendimiento Social se está apoderando del ecosistema de las startups

En un Lunes frío, llegué a la Universidad de Barcelona para el primer día de mi formación de emprendimiento. Ya estaba familiarizada con el modelo: hace unos meses, viajé a Bilbao para asistir a un curso de marketing digital, organizado por la universidad local con Google Actívate, una división de capacitación del gigante tecnológico en España que ofrece cursos gratuitos a personas interesadas en los mundos digital y de las startups. Tenía curiosidad, sin embargo, sobre este. ¿Cómo entrenar a un emprendedor en tres días?

Se aconsejó a las 300 personas en el auditorio: ¡no desistas, no te arrepentirás! Convertirse en empresario es difícil, dice el embajador de Google, pero debe hacer frente a los cambios en el mundo de los negocios. Vale, recibí el mensaje.

Fui parte del Grupo 22 (de 29) de participantes que en su mayoría provenían de otros países, a excepción de dos españolas (una de las cuales se fue a almorzar y nunca regresó). Un grupo mixto e internacional con orígenes muy diferentes, que incluyen una enfermera, un músico, un diseñador, un DJ, un vendedor, un estudiante, una ejecutiva de hospitalidad y yo.

En la primera tarea, todos fuimos invitados a compartir nuestras pasiones, lo que creemos que el mundo necesita y cuáles son las tendencias para el futuro. Y, por encima de todo esto, teníamos que decidir qué desafío queremos abordar durante nuestros 3 días de trabajo.

Entonces, una sorpresa.

De los 29 grupos, solo uno decidió no tomar el camino del emprendimiento social. En cuanto al resto de nuestros “colegas” en la primera mañana, todos estaban convencidos de que los problemas que enfrenta el mundo y las tendencias para el futuro están relacionados con nuestras pasiones, a saber: alimentos saludables, mejores relaciones, ciudades inteligentes, medio ambiente, igualdad de género. Lo cual me convenció de que hay una nueva generación de empresarios, más interesados ​​en hacer del mundo un lugar mejor que en obtener beneficios a ciegas.

Los siguientes dos días tomaron el camino que toma cada capacitación: mucha teoría, algunas tareas prácticas, presentaciones, discusiones. Trabajamos juntos, lanzamos ideas, hicimos negocios y tomamos cervezas después de todo esto. Mucho trabajo en grupo y crecimiento personal. Escuchamos casos comerciales motivacionales y consejos personales. Tuve que aprender a cambiar de opinión muchas veces, superar mi verguenza de hablar un mal español e intentar vender nuestra idea a la gente en las calles. Escuché que digo ‘no’ muchas veces y esto no es bueno para mí, tampoco lo es para el grupo. Tuve conversaciones significativas con personas increíbles.

El último día, todos estaban emocionados de presentar sus ideas a los otros grupos. “Ojalá Google lo compre”, algunos esperaban. “Vamos llevar esto más allá”, muchos otros planearon. La mayoría de ellos estaban profundamente enamorados de sus proyectos, apasionados por la diferencia positiva que pueden aportar a sus comunidades o al planeta. Por mi parte, tengo que confesar que estaba emocionada con la nuestra, una aplicación que puede elegir el medio de transporte más rápido, más barato o más limpio para un destino determinado, de acuerdo con sus prioridades.

Me fui una hora antes del final de la capacitación (sí, rompí el trato), sintiéndome optimista sobre nosotros como sociedad. Sentí que el emprendimiento social se está apoderando del mundo de las startups, que es la semilla de un mundo empresarial mejor. Jóvenes y viejos, europeos y latinoamericanos, ejecutivas y músicos, todos trabajamos por el bien social. Hay esperanza.

English version below

Una red global para la innovación a través del aprendizaje y la colaboración, los Fab Labs son espacios de pura creatividad y tecnología. Ahí, uno puede fabricar casi cualquier cosa y generar impactos positivos ambientales, sociales o incluso ayudar a crear nuevas formas de pensar en nuestro mundo. Visitamos Fab Lab Barcelona, el primero de la Unión Europea, y entrevistamos a uno de sus creadores.

Working space Fab LAB Barcelona

Caminando entre mesas de trabajo, talleres de carpintería e impresoras 3D, tuve la impresión de estar en un hueco entre el pasado, un tiempo en que producíamos con nuestras manos todo lo que necesitábamos, y el futuro, el tiempo en que llegaríamos a transformar nuestros sueños e ideas en realidad palpable. En el Fab Lab Barcelona el idioma común es la curiosidad y la voluntad de repensar el mundo en que vivimos. En uno de los hubs disruptivos más importantes de Europa, el distrito de innovación de Poblenou, conversé con Tomas Diez, el director de Fab City Research Lab y uno de los creadores de Fab Lab Barcelona.

Cuál es la historia del Fab Lab?

El primer Fab Lab del mundo aparece el Boston en 2002, como resultado de cooperación entre MIT and National Science Foundation, y a partir de diferentes coincidencias se ha convertido en una red global. El Fab Lab Barcelona es el primero de la Unión Europea, abrimos en Marzo del 2017. Cuándo abrimos, habían diez Fab Labs en el mundo, hoy hay 1200.

Los Fab Labs son una franquicia?

No, es una red que se identifica con una serie de valores comunes, luego tiene cierto nivel de curadoría de lo que son los espacios, sobretodo en el tipo de tecnología que hay en ellos a través de un inventario común. En esta red hay también eventos comunes, cada año nos reunimos en una ciudad del mundo para hacer una conferencia mundial de Fab Labs, y luego una serie de proyectos para que los Fab Labs empiecen a tener impacto mucho más allá de lo que está relacionado con su existencia. Por lo tanto, los Fab Labs son espacios de aprendizaje y de producción cultural más que de producción fisica. Y ahora los veo como espacios que empiezan a crear proyectos que tienen la misión de generar cambios.

Puedes dar un ejemplo del tema de cambio de impacto social o ambiental?

Para mi la misión fundamental del Fab Lab es cambiar primero como funciona nuestro sistema productivo, como lo convertimos de un sistema extractivo a un sistema regenerativo a través de la economía circular o espiral, y por otro lado generar otro tipo de impacto social que vaya más allá de simplemente impacto económico puro y duro del PIB, que no sea un impacto de cantidad sino que vaya dirigido al empoderamiento. Y eso a través del conocimiento, de la alfabetización digital, que ya no incluya solamente un ordenador, un móvil, una plataforma digital, sino también herramientas de fabricación digital para solucionar problemas y necesidades locales. En la trayectoria de una persona en un Fab Lab vemos que este nivel de empoderamiento ya empieza a cambiar el chip de las personas de esta idea de ‘aprender algo para que alguién me emplee’, a tener un trabajo para ser parte de las cosas como son, para empezar a crear el mundo que uno quiere. Es por eso que han salido de aqui estudiantes de todas partes del mundo que empiezan otros Fab Labs, porque creen poder generar proyectos que no tienen solamente impacto económico, sino también ambiental y social. Y sobre todo gente que sale con una filosofía de trabajo muy diferente, colaborativa y más abierta.

El Fab Lab Barcelona es también una escuela?

Si, el Fab Lab Barcelona esta dentro del Instituto de Arquitectura Avanzada de Cataluña, que tiene programas educativos principalmente a nivel de Másters, de Arquitectura, Diseño, Ciudades, que conectan la tecnología con diferentes disciplinas y hacen una investigación un poco más profunda. El Fab Lab, a parte de servir a estos Masters, tiene también su própia agenda complementaria para generar impacto social y también de albergar iniciativas y proyectos en esta dirección. Esto significa retar los sistemas de producción de alimentos, de energía, de datos, la distribución de bienes; nos interesa mucho el tema de criptomonedas, por ejemplo, de inteligencia artificial, biomateriales… Estamos abriendo muchas líneas de investigación a través de proyectos Europeos y multidisciplinarios.

[El Fab Lab Barcelona tiene un programa intensivo de aprendizaje que enseña a estudiantes de todo el mundo a diseñar, fabricar prototipos y a inventar casi cualquier cosa usando herramientas y tecnologías digitales. Las inscripciones están abiertas y el programa empieza en Enero de 2018!]

Fab Labs all over the world

Fab Lab – Learning for Innovation and Social Impact

A global network for innovation through learning and collaboration, the Fab Labs are spaces of pure creativity and technology. There, one can make almost anything and generate positive environmental and social impact or even help create new ways of thinking about our world. We visited Fab Lab Barcelona, the first in the European Union, and interviewed one of its creators.

Walking between worktables, carpentry workshops and 3D printers, I had the impression that I was in a slit between the past, a time when we were producing with our hands everything we needed, and the future, the time when we would come to transform our dreams and ideas into a palpable reality. In Fab Lab Barcelona the common language is curiosity and the will to rethink the world in which we live. In one of the most important disruptive hubs in Europe, Poblenou’s innovation district, I spoke with Tomas Diez, director of Fab City Research Lab and one of the creators of Fab Lab Barcelona. What is the story of Fab Lab?

The world’s first Fab Lab appeared in Boston in 2002, as a result of a cooperation between MIT and the National Science Foundation; diverse coincidences eventually turned the concept into a global network. Fab Lab Barcelona, which opened in March 2017, was first in the European Union. When we opened it there were ten Fab Labs in the world, today there are 1200.

Fab Labs are a franchise?

No, it is a network that identifies itself with a series of common values, then it has a certain level of curatorship of what those spaces stand for, especially in the type of technology that exists in them through a common inventory. In this network there are also joint events, each year we meet in a different city to hold a world conference of Fab Labs, and examine a series of projects with an impact far beyond what is related to their existence. So Fab Labs are areas of learning and cultural production rather than physical production. And now I see them as spaces that begin to create projects that have the mission of generating change.

Can you give an example of social change or environmental impact?

For me the first and fundamental mission of Fab Lab is to change how our productive system works, as we convert it from an extractive system to a regenerative system through the circular or spiral economy; secondly to generate another type of social impact that goes beyond the simple pure and hard economic impact of GDP, which is not an impact of quantity but is aimed at empowerment. And that is through knowledge and digital literacy, which no longer are only comprised of a computer, a mobile phone and a digital platform but also manufactures digital tools to solve local problems and needs. In the trajectory of a person in a Fab Lab we see that this level of empowerment already begins to change people. They chip this idea of “learning something so that someone can employ me”, of having a job to be part of things as they are, to have an opening, or that “it can be a shock too”, to start creating the world they want. That’s why students from all over the world are starting Fab Labs because they believe they can generate projects that have not only economic but also environmental and social impact. And above all, they are people who come out with a very different collaborative, more open, work philosophy.

Fab Lab Barcelona is also a school?

Yes, Fab Lab Barcelona is part of the Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, which has educational programs mainly at the level of Masters, Architecture, Design, Cities, which connect technology with different disciplines and do a little more in-depth research. Fab Lab, apart from serving these Masters, also has its own complementary agenda to generate social impact and also to host initiatives and projects in this direction. However, to challenge the systems of food production, energy, data, distribution of goods, we are very interested in the issue of cryptomonitoring, for example, artificial intelligence, biomaterials… we are overcoming many lines of research through the European and multidisciplinary project.

Fab Lab Barcelona has a six-month intensive learning program that teaches students from around the world to design, prototype and invent almost anything using digital tools and technologies. Registration is open and the program starts in January 2018!

An exhibition inaugurated this week in Barcelona discusses the influence of human behavior on Earth and casts a different light on our world

It’s 2100 and we have a very, very different world. There is no food for all and water is an overpriced good. Lands are dry – well, not all lands. Cattle and fertile farms prosper in Siberia, Greenland or Alaska, but big parts of Latin America, Africa and Europe are now desertified. Does it sound like a nightmare or a prefiguration of the future? Or is this the beginning of the end of the world as we know it?

On Wednesday 25th of October, the «Despŕes de la fí del món» (After the End of the World) exhibition was inaugurated at the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB), Spain with a selected audience that was invited to participate in an “Artists’ Talk”, an event whereby a number of artists shared their work and views of the world.

Iron mines in Australia. Source: Daily Overview from Benjamin Grant

Benjamin Grant, the founder of Daily Overview, a project which explores the power of high-resolution satellite photography and which made him a popular social media personality, was one of the talking artists. His idea is to offer a different perspective on our planet, either by sharing beautiful landscapes such as the Amazon rainforest and the Florida Everglades or the ugly impact of mining and of the refugee crisis worldwide. Some of his work bears a strong resemblance to that of Piet Mondrian and Ellsworth Kelly. «There is a lot of thinking behind my work. I want to raise awareness of our planet by showing how it’s changing through perspectives we can’t have in our everyday lives», he said.

The artists and expeditionists Kate Davies and Liam Young presented Unknown Fields, a nomad study that shows the shadows of the contemporary city. In their expeditions around the world, they uncover the impacts of industry and consumption on nature and human lives. The “forgotten ones” – that is the hidden workers of the fashion industry or the cargo ships that travel the world endlessly to deliver goods – are integrated with our daily lives in unexpected and surprising ways.

Unknown Fields Division Showreel 2013 from liam young on Vimeo.

The amazing transformation of Singapore is the topic chosen by Charles Lim. Using maps and telling local stories, he exposes how rapidly the landscape of his country has changed – through land reclamation from the sea, elimination of hills, and renaming islands, Singapore has lived through an intense land revolution, still ongoing.

The collective Rimini Protokoll, from Germany, shared a surprising experience with Documental Theatre. One of the ‘plays’ invited an audience of 500 people to be part of an imaginary Conference of the Parties (COP) whereby they are asked to make decisions for each country and try to reach the 2020 target on greenhouse gases emissions. It is an exercise of awareness and commitment that changes the perspective of normal citizens on climate change.

«Després de la fí del món» is an exhibition that explores Earth in 2017, a planet irreversibly transmuted into Paul J. Crutzen’s Anthropocene after many centuries of the influence of human behavior. Yet it is also an exhibition that forecasts the second half of 21st century and determines our generation’s responsibility to future generations.

What do alternative sources of energy, cooking workshops and a virtual reality device to make people feel like refugees have in common? Cultural innovation and the will to change positively the world we live in. Last month, the Center for Contemporary Culture in Barcelona hosted a round of conferences and a prize for social innovation, gathering specialists in such topics as sustainable cultural management and climate change in a two-day row of interesting debates about the challenges of our times.

Cultural Innovation International Prize
Cultural Innovation International Prize

The pannels started with Laura Pando, an experienced cultural manager who strives to help the cultural sector to adopt more sustainable practices. In the last 10 years, Laura helped museums, music festivals and governments to opt for clean energy solutions, calculate their carbon footprint and develop leadership in the industry. «In a recent poll, we discovered that 50% of people don’t remember ever having a conversation about climate change. Art and culture have a great responsibility on promoting this debate. If we don’t talk about it, it won’t exist in people’s minds», she said.

The following conference was presented by Laura Faye Tenembaum, science senior editor for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. In a passionate talk, she engaged the audience on the idea that climate change is a «fascinating challenge». «You can’t see countries’ political divisions or boundaries from the space. We’re all facing the climate change and have to work together», she said. Laura warned that the effects of carbon pollution might be invisible on earth but are becoming more visible from space. Climate change, she says, is not a topic of the future. It’s already been happening for decades now and affecting our daily lives. «We need to transform how we live. Society is resistent to change, and has a negative feeling about it. I dare you to face the challenges as exciting”, she concluded.

Laura Faye Tenembaum
Laura Faye Tenembaum

Laura Tenembaum was also a member of the jury for the Cultural Innovation International Prize. In its second edition, the competition gathered 228 projects from 59 countries, mainly developed by young researchers, artists and entrepreneurs. The 10 finalists presented their projects in Barcelona and the winner was The Newton Machine, a battery prototype that stores renewable energy using gravity. The prize also gave an audience award to Neighbourhood Upcycling, a locally based project for plastic recycling that can be replicated to promote circular economy worldwide.

The jury gave a special mention for the project Ode for the Future, which used art, installation, and performances to show the effects of climate change in six geographic spots from Catalonia, Spain. All the projects, though, had the opportunity to be presented to a broader audience and to create an impact – the finalists received feedback from the jury, as well as ideas to put into practice.

The projects were exposed at the Centre of Contemporary Culture in Barcelona
The projects were exposed at the Centre of Contemporary Culture in Barcelona

Click here to read more about the 10 finalists and the Cultural Innovation International Prize. (in Spanish)

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!

Barcelona is well-known for its tourist attractions – beautiful architecture, vibrant nightlife and great food -, which makes it one of the most visited places in the world. Yet, there is something more than attracting the occasional visitors that the Catalan capital wants to earn: the status of first Social Business big City. As a supporter of social businesses around the world, Horyou interviewed Anna Domenech, spokesperson for Social Business City Barcelona.

Barcelona Social Business City
Barcelona Social Business City

What does Social Business City Barcelona stand for?

Social Business City Barcelona (SBC Barcelona) is an International program of intervention, created by Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace prize in 2006, known as the promoter of microcredit and social business concepts. The creation of this international initiative has the purpose of spreading the concept of social business around the world, at a time when an international social business movement is arising worldwide that involves people, organizations and societies. This movement aims to promote and support social entrepreneurship and social business as a tool to deal with and solve the social needs and challenges of the city. From this global ecosystem, a new concept on how to solve social problems in a territory emerges, in a holistic and collaborative way: Social Business City (SBC). In order to reach that objective, SBC Barcelona has created a huge alliance between different actors in the city to work together for a social and economic change. Currently, SBC Barcelona is supporting the creation of new social enterprises, accompanying NGOs to create social businesses, undertaking social business communication campaigns, training sessions and workshops for students, and boosting university research and teaching. An important thing to consider is what we mean by social business: organizations whose main objective is to achieve a positive social impact, using the sale of a product or a service as a tool. The profits are reinvested in their own activity (no-dividend), to make more effective and enduring its main goal: to create impact and generate social change.

You have a very bold mission – to transform Barcelona into the first big social business city in the world. What is your strategy and timeline to reach this goal?

Before Barcelona, Wiesbaden (Germany), Pistoia (Italy) and Fukuoka (Japan) got involved in the SBC initiative. The latest incorporation has been Ipoh, in Malaysia. These initiatives are being developed in very different realities, especially regarding the size of the cities which are taking part. In Pistoia, for example, the program is carried out by the University of Florence. In Barcelona, we have four public universities and a large number of private universities and business schools. We have obtained the commitment of all the public universities and four private universities. So, the initiative in Barcelona requires the articulation of an extensive city; it also calls to deal with the multiplicity and complexity of all the actors involved. On the other hand, it should be noted that Barcelona presents a great, strong and rooted civil society where many alternative forms of production and consumption have developed throughout the years; forms such as cooperatives are traditionally very powerful in Catalonia. In this sense, there’s a big task of including, cooperating and interacting with all the actors. Social entities and social businesses, universities, private entities, the third sector and the Barcelona city council are involved in the project since its inception.

Lab 'co-creating social business'
Lab “co-creating social business”

What are your main challenges today?

Our main objective now is to spread the concept of social business, to make visible other ways of doing business where economic activity becomes a potential and sustainable tool to face the social needs and challenges. It is necessary to give support and awareness to civil society that there are many initiatives and entrepreneurs that are creating business from a critical, transformative and committed social perspective. With SBC, we are supporting and promoting the creation of these companies that are based on social, environmental and cultural view, which allow the introduction of transformative perspectives and relationship to change the rules, and the type of thinking required for a radical transformation of the economic system. In order to achieve that, on the one hand, we’re doing a lot of training activities in universities and schools; we grant several awards for the best social business projects to university and professional training students, and we’re launching communication campaigns and activities that involve civil society. On the other hand, we’re carrying out the Lab Co-Creating Social Business, which offers support to social entrepreneurs: an intensive workplace, workshops, support and advice in the process of creation a new social business.

Are you engaged with the Sustainable Development Goals?

We’re engaged with SDG because we think it’s totally necessary to adopt this set of goals as a part of a new sustainable development global agenda. We think in a global way and consider that all these goals should be intrinsic to all activities of all organizations, in the common world we’re living in. However, we’re working from a territorial vision, through the identification of different social challenges which must be faced in Barcelona. The first main challenge identified was to reduce youth unemployment in the city, an unsustainable situation which requires to be approached immediately, by the cooperation and implication of all the city’s agents. To revert this problem will take time and effort. That is why we need sustainable and coordinated solutions, focused towards the reduction of youth unemployment, but guaranteeing sustainability and maximization of its social impact in the future, and counting on the youth community as agents who can transform a reality that affects them directly. Some of other challenges we are working on are high pollution rates, migrations, negative tourism effects in the city, right to housing, or education.

In your opinion, are civil society and private sector more aware and committed to social businesses?

In the recent years, we have witnessed a series of events, both locally and globally, which have shaken the dominant socio-economic structures, demonstrating the need to re-think and transform the system. We grew up in a context where the hegemonic economic actors have shown to prioritize growth measured in personal profits at the expense of the interests based on people and common welfare, where business relations have strengthened poverty, exclusion, social inequality, and environmental devastation. But for a long time, different and alternatives ways of doing business have been raised, showing that other forms of production, exchange and consumption is not only possible, but a reality. One way of doing business is where economic activity becomes a potential tool to face challenges and social needs. In a distressing global reality, we believe that people are becoming more aware of the importance of betting for sustainable and responsible ways of life; and we believe that it’s absolutely necessary for a committed and aware civil society to generate new public policies favourable to this socio-economic change.

Teaching
Teaching a course of social economy at the university

Horyou is a social network for the social good. How important is to have social networks engaging and promoting social businesses?

We think it’s crucial to place the new forms of communication, of sharing information and knowledge at the service of social and sustainable proposals. It’s evident that social networks present new opportunities, intensifying the connections and the possibilities of cooperation. So we think it’s necessary to redirect this innovative tools towards new ways of collaboration in order to co-create and build collective knowledge and experience around social enterprises and social economy.

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!

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