Foundation

As a network organization, the Social Entrepreneurship Akademie aims to educate and support social entrepreneurs and innovators. Established in 2010, the institution is a joint initiative of four universities from Munich, Germany. By coaching startups and helping students and professionals to gain entrepreneurial skills to solve global challenges, the SE Akademie embeds the idea of social entrepreneurship in society. Horyou blog interviewed the team spokeswoman Kristina Notz about the network and the social innovation landscape.

SE Akademie is a result of the cooperation between  four German universities
SE Akademie is a result of the cooperation between four German universities

As a social entrepreneurship supporter and accelerator, what would you say are the biggest challenges for a social entrepreneur?

Every entrepreneur faces similar challenges and there are many. We observe that some social entrepreneurs have more difficulties to think and talk about profit, since they are impact-driven. At the same time they need more time to figure out their business model, to find funding, and to convince people and supporters. In the social sector, it is a challenge to find and retain talent, even though it seems to be an attractive working environment at first sight. The ability to stay motivated intrinsically is key.

Are you committed to the Sustainable Development Goals ? Do you address some of the SDGs with your projects?

Yes, we’re using the SDGs in most of our workshops as a starting point to raise people’s awareness and give impulses towards the field they could become active in as a social entrepreneur. Many of the social enterprises we support tackle one of the challenges addressed by the SDGs.

How do you see the future of social entrepreneurship?  

My vision is that all entrepreneurship is social and we can leave out the word “social” and herewith differentiate. The future is that every entrepreneurial activity respects the triple bottom line and bears in mind people, planet, and profit. And I strongly believe this is possible but requires a certain change in mind-set.

Many social entrepreneurs supported by the institution develop SDG-related projects
Many social entrepreneurs supported by the institution develop SDG-related projects

Horyou connects on its social platform thousands of social entrepreneurs, philanthropists and organizations around the world. In your opinion, what’s the importance of social networks for social entrepreneurship and, particularly, for your work?

Social networks offer powerful tools to raise awareness about social entrepreneurship and bring its idea and examples to a broader audience. Platforms like yours are very valuable to the sector since you showcase best practices and role models and inspire others, and ideally turn information into action.

In our work, Social media are our main tool to reach out to and stay in touch with our participants and alumni. We focus as well on offline networks, make people meet and experience the network face to face. They can learn from each other, be inspired by others and exchange ideas and best practices. The flux of ideas, learnings, dreams, and failures contributes a lot to the venture development and success.

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!

Launched by the United Nations Development Program, Foundation Center, and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors in 2014, the SDG Philanthropy Platform aims to raise awareness and build connections within the philanthropy sector. Focused on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the “SDG Funders” have developed partnerships to increase funding and create programs in order to reach the Global Development Agenda. Our Horyou community shares the same values, therefore we are happy to feature their interview in our blog!

Promoting SDGs in Brazil
Promoting SDGs in Brazil

What is the scope of SDG Funders work?

The goals of the SDG Philanthropy Platform (“the Platform”) is twofold: 1) To provide a greater understanding by the philanthropy sector of the Sustainable Development Goals (“SDG”) agenda and the process and 2) To provide a greater understanding by the UN system, governments, private sector and civil society of the role and potential of the philanthropy sector to contribute to sustainable development. After launching the Platform in Kenya, Ghana, Zambia, Colombia, Indonesia, India, Brazil, and the United States, we have recognized our role in creating partnerships that result in effective programs that help countries achieve the SDGs. The Platform is working to improve the philanthropic sector by providing country-specific information more easily, mapping the ecosystem, and sharing data so that giving is more transparent and less fragmented.

Teamwork in Ghana
Teamwork in Ghana

As a social entrepreneurship supporter and accelerator, what would you say are the biggest challenges to be a social entrepreneur?

I believe the biggest challenges for a social entrepreneur is access – access to funding, networks, resources, mentorship, etc. The SDGs is a classification system that is understood globally and is increasingly being used by all stakeholders. When social entrepreneurs frame their work using this taxonomy, it is an opportunity to leverage more resources. Through the open-source information we provide on our website, social entrepreneurs are able to better understand the ecosystem in which they operate and learn who are the top funders and recipients related to a specific SDG and country.

How do you see the future of social entrepreneurship?

In order to achieve the SDGs and their respective targets by 2030, neither the government nor philanthropy can do it alone. We will need the support of innovative thinkers, social entrepreneurs, and corporations to all work together to achieve the SDGs. In this, social entrepreneurs will continue to be valuable in scaling solutions and deepening their impact.

Event in Indonesia
Event in Indonesia

Horyou connects on its social platform thousands of social entrepreneurs, philanthropists and organizations around the world. In your opinion, what’s the importance of social networks for social entrepreneurship and, particularly, for your work?

Collaboration. Around the world, social entrepreneurs, philanthropists and organizations are creating solutions to tackle issues. By participating in social networks, stakeholders can learn from each other, share their approaches, and discuss how to create meaningful impact. Collaborative networks reduce duplicative efforts and help better utilize resources, both monetary and non-monetary. The Platform is a vehicle for catalyzing multi-stakeholder partnerships and collaboration to advance SDGs through building awareness and connections between those working in the philanthropy sector and beyond. The Platform has adopted a systemic approach to funding and policy work, shifting from fragmented individual projects to long-term collaborative efforts in line with national development priorities and the SDGs.

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!

Six years ago, Lovern Gordon, a lady social entrepreneur, decided to give hope to many women victims of domestic abuse. Instigated by her own personal and family story, she set up Love Life Now Foundation in the US, an organization which, throughout the years, has helped collect thousands of dollars for shelters and raise awareness about domestic violence worldwide. In this interview for the Horyou blog, Lovern shares her thoughts on feminism and social media as an awareness tool, as well as her hopes for the future.

Lovern Gordon in a  Teen Domestic Violence Workshop
Lovern Gordon in a Teen Domestic Violence Workshop

Briefly, tell us a little about the beginning of Love Life Foundation and its main advances.

Love Life Now Foundation, Inc. was established in November, 2011.

I worked tirelessly to promote Awareness Against Domestic Violence as a platform after winning 2 beauty pageants (locally in Boston and nationally in Los Angeles in 2010), but did not want to stop there with advocacy, so Love Life Now was formed.

I am a survivor of abuse from a 2 year relationship, and was also a child witness to it…my mother was abused at the hands of our father throughout their marriage. My mother and I were unaware at the time of the tremendous and valuable resources available to victims and survivors that help save lives daily, and is the reason I seek to spread awareness on a daily basis today through the Foundation’s work.

Through the formation of the Love Life Now and its initiatives, we have been able to donate thousands of dollars to shelters statewide, raise awareness about resources available nationwide and assist victims and survivors in finding the necessary help as it relates to this issue.

Volunteers give brown bag lunches and toiletry filled care packages to homeless affected by domestic violence and beyond.
Volunteers give brown bag lunches and toiletry filled care packages to homeless affected by domestic violence and beyond.

What are the main inspirations for your work?

My mother. For all that she has endured, never letting it break her spirit and still coming out on top…she’s my hero.

What kind of impact does the organization want to make in the world?

When Love Life Now was formed, all I sought to do was help anyone that needed it. Over the years I have observed that our initiatives leave folks with a desire to do more as bystanders when it comes to this issue. If we can continue to help change the narrative while continuing to inspire, that will be more than I could have ever asked for.

Lovern Gordon
Lovern Gordon

Horyou is the social network for social good. How do social networks and technology influence the day-to-day running of the foundation?

I’d say it’s literally the bread and butter of Love Life Now. Our reach via social networks and technology has proven to be limitless. For instance, our newly launched digital domestic violence awareness magazine Love Life Magazine (www.lovelifemag.org), reaches folks in as far as Spain, Africa and the Caribbean. The same goes for our almost daily posts about what we’re doing to foster change…which in turn enables others to let them know they can do the same in their corner of the world.

Feminism is a movement that has gained momentum and has helped people to be aware openly about domestic violence. Do you see the change in women empowerment throughout the years?

Absolutely! Across the world, no matter where you lived…domestic violence was looked upon as a taboo subject, accepted by some cultures, or shameful all around. Though we still have a long, long way to go, I believe it’s no longer business as usual when it comes to women being abused. More women are standing in solidarity with those affected by it. One in every four women will be touched by this issue and in the age of social media where you can show support to other women who no longer want to be silent about it, the empowerment level has been raised up significantly.

White Ribbon Night Gala, where men are invited to speak out against domestic violence
White Ribbon Night Gala, where men are invited to speak out against domestic violence

We live in an age of constant transformation. What are the positive changes you want for women’s lives and for future generations?

A big hope is that the laws surrounding domestic violence and sexual assault are continuously tightened and enforced.

Horyouis the Social Network for Social Good, which connect, support and promote social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens that thrive helping the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

MRCJ team members
MRCJ team members

The agreement made at COP21 in Paris last December was historic and incredible to witness. In a world of conflicting opinions, power struggles and a constant tug over resources, 195 countries converged on the reality of climate change and the imminent need to work towards a decarbonised world.

Climate change reveals the true interdependence of our world’s communities, no booming economy can resist the effects of catastrophic tsunami. However, the richer the nations, the more they can protect themselves and their communities from natural disasters.

The Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice was set up as an organisation to promote action and leadership in that field and help the most under-resourced nations in their struggle against climate change.

Mary Robinson speaking at COP 21
Mary Robinson speaking at COP 21

Dearbhla Gavin in conversation with Maurice Sadlier, Account Director of the MRFCJ (Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice), discusses the ins and outs of that issue.

1) Horyou is a platform to highlight the people and projects that are making a positive impact on our world, tell us about the work of the Mary Robinson Foundation and how it is contributing to social good?    

The Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice is a centre for thought leadership, education and advocacy on the struggle to secure global justice for those people vulnerable to the impacts of climate change who are usually forgotten – the poor, the disempowered and the marginalised across the world. It is a platform for solidarity, partnership and shared engagement for all who care about global justice, whether as individuals and communities suffering injustice or as advocates for fairness in resource-rich societies.   The Foundation provides a space for facilitating action on climate justice to empower the poorest people and countries in their efforts to achieve sustainable and people-centred development. Climate justice operates at the intersection of human rights, climate change and development. Climate justice links human rights and development to achieve a human-centred approach, safeguarding the rights of the most vulnerable people and sharing the burdens and benefits of climate change and its impacts equitably and fairly. Climate justice is informed by science, responds to science and acknowledges the need for equitable stewardship of the world’s resources.  

2) Horyou was proud to be a part of COP 21 this year and your founder Mary Robinson was a key delegate. Tell us your thoughts on what was agreed and the next steps for action?  

The Paris Agreement represents a significant milestone in human history, and an evolution of the international climate regime. For the first time, we have an agreement that considers those people most vulnerable in the face of climate change – an agreement that builds on our growing understanding of climate change as a social – as well as an economic and environmental issue. The Paris Agreement recognizes the need to respect and promote human rights, the rights of indigenous peoples, gender equality, women’s empowerment and intergenerational equity to achieve a just transition. The Paris Agreement provides the opportunity to transform our way of life to one that is fairer and more sustainable. It establishes the need to keep global temperature rise below 2C and closer to 1.5C. This demonstrates that 195 countries accept the need to leave nobody behind in our transition to renewable energy, given that at 2 degrees warming above pre-industrial levels, many people and even some countries would not survive. Nevertheless, there will be challenges ahead as the World sets out to implement the Paris agreement. Climate justice must now inform how the Paris Agreement is implemented. We must ensure that decisions on climate change are participatory, transparent and accountable that the voices of people in vulnerable situations continue to be heard and will be acted upon. In implementing the agreement we must ensure that a development first approach is taken, that access to finance for developing countries is made available and that human rights are a cornerstone of the response to climate change.

3) Many industries are now realising that being environmentally conscious is good business and will actually serve them and their profits in the long run, what are your views on this? 

This action by business is very welcome. The global business community has a central role to play in the fight against climate change. Business has in fact a responsibility to manage climate risks and advance climate justice, not just for shareholders and workers but also for the wider community. Business interacts with people all along supply chains, and operates in communities that are affected by climate change. Business sells goods and services to people living in a climate affected world. Managing climate risk goes beyond risk assessments of potential impacts to earnings – business should be looking to build resilience to climate impacts more broadly in our economies and societies. Responsible action on climate change is part of the social contract required to operate. In the run up to COP21 and the Paris Agreement businesses played a key role. Many business leaders around the world raised their voices and supported ambitious action on climate change. For example, We Mean Business – a coalition of organisations working with thousands of the world’s most influential businesses and investors – wrote an open letter to world leaders calling for a clear and ambitious long-term goal as part of the COP21 agreement. This letter was signed by 22 business and civil society leaders.  

4) You are based in Trinity College, Dublin and so you are surrounded by ‘millennials’, how would you some up the attitude of today’s students around climate change/sustainable living? 

MRCJ team members
MRCJ team members

We are the first generation to fully understand the grave threat of climate change and the last generation who will be able to do something about it before it is too late. The youth of today are very engaged in the issues of climate change and climate justice. You only have to look at the divestment campaigns that are springing up in universities and colleges across the world to see how engaged students are. This engagement is important and necessary. The youth of today are the future leaders and innovators of the world; these are the people who will provide the solutions for the future world we live in not only for ourselves but for those who come after us.  

5) Finally, Horyou supports people acting on their dreams, through the work that you do, what are the ultimate goals or ambitions for the Mary Robinson Foundation?   

The vision of the Foundation is that by 2020 global justice and equity will underpin a people-centred, developmental approach to advancing climate justice and more effectively addressing the impacts of climate change. As a Foundation we seek to put justice and equity at the heart of the responses to climate change, and to ensure that the challenge that it poses for the poorest and most vulnerable peoples of the world are addressed and the benefits and burdens of the response to climate change are shared equally.

Written by Dearbhla Gavin

Eric Coly’s professional trajectory is not a usual one. After moving from native Senegal to the US to pursue a successful career in finance, he decided to make a radical change and thus created Le Dessein , a sustainable clothing company which supports African girls by using their drawings as embroidery. In addition to valuing their creative work, Coly helps improve the girls’ education through a foundation in Liberia. Ever-optimistic about the prospects of sustainable business, he shared with Horyou blog his views on social entrepreneurship, women empowerment and the challenge of providing education for girls from underprivileged communities.

Girls drawings are used as embroidery
Girls drawings are used as embroidery

What’s the story behind the creation of Le Dessein?

Hailing from Senegal, I thought I had fulfilled my childhood ambitions by pursuing a ten-year long career in Finance. Attending the UCLA Anderson Graduate School had the opposite effect of cementing my career in finance, and instead triggered a deep feeling of dissatisfaction and uncertainty about my professional trajectory. A year of self-examination led those feelings to be supplanted by a desire to enter the world of Fashion. Introduced to it at an early age by my mother, I felt like Fashion alone still would not suffice. I realized the deep impact that education had on the women of my family on a socio-economic, cultural and social level, starting with my grandmother’s introduction to college back in the 1920’s, passing through my mother and trickling down her four children, I found it to be a great addition to Le Dessein’s mission: providing the opportunity of an education for young girls from underprivileged communities from around the world by featuring their art onto our fashion.

Like Horyou’s CEO, you had a career in finance before launching your own company. What made you decide to quit the glamorous and profitable world of finance to that of a social entrepreneur?

It was about seeking a sense of pursuit and human validity in this world. My first sign of freedom came when I realized that money didn’t have the highest place in my hierarchal tower of needs. Second came a deep and painful, yet highly rewarding journey of self-introspection designed to figure out who I was exactly – since I believed that one should know oneself in order to know what one’s passion thus career could be. Last was mustering the courage to fully embrace what I was convinced would revive my life and give myself permission to execute it. I had always had a nurturing nature, and needed to find a way to honor that. What better way to do it but to be of service to courageous and brave girls who have the potential to be powerful leaders and create rich legacies?

One of the drawings used by Le Dessein
One of the drawings used by Le Dessein

Beside the drawings, the girls also design some of the clothes?

Actually not – the girls’ activities involve the drawings of the artworks which we embroider on our clothes. We will be adding the creation of jewelry into their artistic activities soon. This endeavor is about more than just the financial contribution that the girls receive. The more important beneficial attribute in my own estimation is the self-readjustment of their own value when visualizing the final product worn by the customers. This is about heightening empowerment and self esteem which are generally acquired through ownership – ownership of their art.

What is the relation between your company and educational projects for girls?

We have the pleasure of working with the More Than Me foundation, which is dedicated to educating girls in Monrovia, Liberia. They have done an excellent job after Liberia’s long war of taking young girls from the street in order to give them access to education. We work directly with them and use them as a conduit, given their expertise. Part of their duties is to adequately allocate the funds that are contributed to the girls’ education.

What is the ultimate goal of Le Dessein?

Our ultimate goal is to put 10,000 girls in school in the next ten years. The ripple effects of women and girls educated are quite far reaching. 65 million young girls are currently not in school. 40,000 girls are given away in forced marriage every day. 3 million children under the age of 5 are lost every year because their mothers are not in school. A lot of work still needs to be done in trying to educate girls and we intend to devote our full participation along with our peer partners in eradicating this issue.

An example from Le Dessein's lookbook
An example from Le Dessein’s lookbook

What is your vision about socially responsible businesses?

Highly optimistic. There seems to have been a systematic shift in the global world community in prioritizing human, environmental, animal and a slew of equally important issues. This has been reflected in the birth of a number of socially responsible businesses. Their successes have further justified the creation of new ones and given validity to the world’s appetite for consuming socially responsible products. For instance, the presumed leader in the socially responsible industry, TOMS (known for the one for one business model – they give one shoe to a person in need for every shoe purchased) has given to date over 45 million pairs of shoes worldwide. Its current annual revenue is over $400 million – in just years of existence, in not only in the competitive world of fashion, but also in the totally uncharted territory of the socially responsible world. Our future vision for this field remains high indeed.

Horyou’s tagline is “dream, inspire, act” – what do those words represent for you and your business?

These words represent the quintessential pillars of our company’s mission statement. They do not seem to mean much when taken apart, but put together they have the power to move mountains, revive cultures, and provide restoration to humanity. We fully stand by them and do our best to uphold their intended messages.

By Vivian Soares

Cannes Film Festival is a unique event in many respects as indeed it is a place where movie-making royalty gather to showcase and celebrate cinema, while the powerful meet to illuminate and make a call to action on the very real life issues and stories that are changing our world. This year, I was delighted to meet Helga Piaget, former wife of Yves Piaget, CEO and President of luxury Swiss jewellery and watch company Piaget. Helga is a remarkable woman of integrity, using her voice for positive social impact. She is passionate about Ocean conservation and education of the next generation and I was delighted she took the time out to speak with me about her Passion Sea organization .

Helga Piaget
Helga Piaget

1. Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind Passion Sea, how did it all begin? 

Living on the coast of the Mediterranean makes you be connected with the element of water on a daily basis; you can’t help but notice how alarming the pollution of the waters has become. It made me react in founding Passion Sea, an environmental, educational and artistic project. Water is not only what we need, it’s what we are. The cycle of life, of our body is the same as the water cycle on our planet. We need clean water to survive! It is evident that we need to react!

2. Many companies are reforming their business models to reflect changing consumer patterns of demand and values. The millennial generation are more environmentally aware and proactive than the previous ones. Is this why Passion Sea focuses on educating the next generation? Do you believe that a culture change towards more sustainable behavior has to begin in the classroom?

The young generation is in charge of the world of tomorrow and will help shape its future. For this reason, Passion Sea focuses on young people through art contests, books, films, music and sports, so they become aware in their formative years, of the importance of protecting the seas, the waters into the future. Giving the children this ecological education is the only way to change behaviors on our planet and to have a chance to survive! Rivers, lakes, seas and oceans don’t need us; we need them and have to start respecting them again, like our ancestors did when they honored the waters with gods for their  purity! The population on our planet is growing and the amount of clean water is regressing! The plastic pollution of the last 50 years is slowly but surely killing the waters, and the living marine species! Without education, we will have more plastic in the oceans and in 20 years, all fishes will die!

Youth education project from Passion Sea
Youth education project from Passion Sea

3. Tell us about some of the work Passion Sea has been involved with so far? You will have an event at Toronto Film Festival?

Since 2 years Passion Sea has been spreading awareness around the Globe through it’s art contest, workshops, gala dinners, golf tournaments, books, films and a fantastic music to come! We are using all social media to bring the awareness to the maximum audience possible! Schools in many countries follow our artistic and educational program in the classrooms. By motivating the children through their own creations of a marine environment on paper, they will remember these lessons for a long time! Palm Beach, Monaco, Venice, Milan, St Moritz, Cape Town and many more locations already have a Passion Sea event ! Now we are preparing some amazing days in Toronto, Canada, on September 9/10, starting with a kid’s day, followed by a VIP Golf tournament and an evening in the beautiful Ripley’s aquarium. This event will take place during the Toronto film festival. It will be a meeting with international VIP’s from Film, TV, Sport, Business and Politics who will be listening to important speeches from Marine biologists, researchers, nutritionists and water experts in a lounge style evening around the entire aquarium, and it will be broadcast around the Planet! We are looking forward to a great party, supported by the mayor of Toronto and a number of major local and international companies!

4. One of Horyou’s key values is solidarity. Do you believe in the power of collective action to make progress? Has Passion Sea partnered with any person or organization so far? 

We very much believe in collaboration! We are linked with numerous associations allover the world, in respect with pollution, over-fishing, climate change etc. Scientists and researchers, alongside the foundation of HSH Prince Albert II are supporting our project! Together we can change behaviors! Let’s join forces and unite like drops of water to become a powerful, passion filled sea of change. Passion Sea.

5. Horyou supports people acting on their dreams. What is the ultimate goal of Helga Piaget with Passion Sea? 

Our mission with Passion Sea is to instill awareness and change habits of the global population, to restore, respect and protect the waters of our life! Every school should teach the importance of water! Let’s change the world and make it a better and more respectful place! Our own lives will depend on these changes. It is true that our own lives will depend on these changes. I think the world has woken up to the fact that conservation of our natural world is not something that should be treated with a long term view. Our people and planet are being impacted now and so the time to act is now. People like Helga and platforms like Horyou can help mobilize and raise awareness, but it is within every single persons remit to make an individual effort to be the change you want to see in the world.

Written by Dearbhla Gavin

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