social innovation

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.

Fostering new ideas and processes through innovation and entrepreneurship for good

SDG 9

Imagine a world with clean air, renewable and endless sources of water and a no speculation financial system! Far from being the child of a utopian mind, the idea of living in such a world is possible thanks to innovation. In all countries, entrepreneurs are relying on technology to propose new solutions to the problems of our society and make a difference.

The UN Sustainable Development Goal number 9 is about building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation. This is one of the most successful goals, as may improvements have been so far achieved worldwide. The SDG 9 also touches on many other goals, as it generates jobs, helps to combat hunger and poverty and furthers equality. Innovative industries’ impact on carbon emissions is minimal, as they tend to be cleaner.

According to the UNDP, carbon emissions of countries that have moved towards more efficient and clean industries have significantly decreased: in Europe and North America alone the 10 largest manufacturing countries have thus reduced their emissions by 36%. The greatest challenge, however, lies in weighing improvement, knowing that developing countries evolve at a slower pace than the richest ones. Still, investment in clean industrialization and innovation has increased worldwide, with more money going to research and development, transport, economic infrastructure and energy.

Horyou has constantly been supporting innovation and eco-efficient industries. During the 2017 edition of SIGEF, in Astana, Kazakhstan, its agenda covered industrial innovation on Future Energy and Cities of Tomorrow, showcasing many ventures and projects with a high potential of changing the world in a positive way. So has SIGEF 2016, in Marrakesh, Morocco, which covered extensively the topic of how transportation, water, energy and financial industries are innovating in sustainable and inclusive ways, and where a number of entrepreneurs were invited to present their projects as part of the SIGEF Awards, a social innovation-oriented set-up that showcases and awards the most relevant innovative ideas in social good. Two winning projects were about building a cleaner environment using simple and ground-breaking energy.

If you wish to support this SDG, you can do so through Horyou. Go to Horyou platform and choose an NGO or project that helps promote sustainable industries and innovation in your region or anywhere in the world. Your support can be made easier and more effective with Spotlight, our digital currency for impact. Check it out and start using it to engage in any cause you feel concerned about. Be the change, be Horyou!

Half of the world’s population lives on USD 2 a day or less. The 8th UN Sustainable Development Goal promotes decent work for all.

Photo: UNDP

Robots taking humans jobs in Europe, a slave market in Libya, child labor in Brazil, youth unemployment in Spain…our society is globally affected by job insecurity and vulnerability. While the global unemployment rate stands at 5.7 per cent, having a job doesn’t guarantee decent conditions and earnings. Young women are the most vulnerable group, with a larger chance to be neither in employment nor in education.

This situation affects the global political and economic stability – labor productivity has been slowing down since 2010, which represents a negative living standard and real wages progress worldwide. Indirectly, it will affect human impact on the environment, education levels, violence, and migration. It’s all connected.

Yet, there are good news. Despite remaining a huge concern, the number of working children has declined from 246 million in 2000 to 168 million in 2012, and it’s even better for girls with a 40% decline versus 25% for boys.

According to the UNDP, better labor conditions require access to financial services and aid for trade. The former has increased by 55 per cent in the last five years, while investment in trade-related infrastructure, banking and agriculture has reached USD 53.9 billion in 2015. Trust funds for the least developed countries are also running their second phase now up to 2022.

In addition to the work of governments and transnational institutions, the creation of quality jobs still remains one of the biggest challenges for all economies. Many organizations are working to qualify people and provide them with skills and access to better jobs.

One of Horyou’s active organizations devoted to the SDG 8 is Association Flamme de la Gloire. Based in Morocco, it provides support and social services to vulnerable communities. Through workshops and internships, it helps to improve the quality of access to work. It is focused on the development of tourism and cultural activities, as well as agricultural cooperatives within the country, constantly concerned with the sustainable aspects of these activities.

In Brazil, NOUS Educare provides educational development programs to strengthen human potential, based on anthroposophy. Through workshops, lectures and activities, it helps its participants to gain confidence, strength and skills to face the new labor scenario which is unfolding for all workers.

If you wish to support this SDG, you can do so through Horyou. Go to Horyou platform and choose an NGO or project that helps promote decent work and economic growth in your region or anywhere in the world. Your support can be made easier and more effective with Spotlight, our digital currency for impact. Check it out and start using it to engage in any cause you feel concerned about. Be the change, be Horyou!

This year’s Responsible Business Forum (RBF), Asia’s largest gathering on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) held in Singapore this week, a city that next fall will also host SIGEF 2018. Yonathan Parienti, founder and CEO of Horyou, the social network for social good and organizer of SIGEF, was invited to be part of an exclusive group of 600 delegates to attend the event.

Responsible Business Forum (RBF), Asia’s largest gathering on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) was held in Singapore this week

«Our participation in the Responsible Business Forum in Singapore is a sign that we are following the right path. Both Horyou and SIGEF are typically in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which makes us very welcome there», says Parienti. SIGEF 2018 will be held on September 11th, during the chairmanship of the ASEAN Summit.

RBF will hold SDG workshops for all participants, as well as share commitments, report on progress and define a framework for measuring performance and impact of each goal through case studies and panels. The Forum approach is to provide integrated solutions to accelerate action. Businesses, governments, UN agencies, NGOs, investors and international experts will be presenting their success stories, as innovation and financing of SDG will be high on the agenda this year.

The event will comprise seven channels of debates, namely agriculture, food & nutrition; consumption, climate change, inclusive growth, cities and urbanization, and circular economy. Discussions will include green financing opportunities, cleantech and data philanthropy, while companies will showcase initiatives that prove they keep thinking ‘out of the box’, such as AkzoNobel, a coatings industry bringing solutions to smart cities and clean oceans, or MasterCard that is acting on gender equality and inclusion.

The business sector’s cooperation with other actors of the SDG ecosystem will be stressed by many speakers. «We have to translate the SDG into a language that the business community can understand», warns Meng Liu, head of Asia and Oceania Networks with the United Nations Global Compact. «In order to support their implementation, the business sector must go beyond CSR», adds Haoliang Xu, regional Director for UNDP in Asia Pacific.

According to the UNDP, business opportunities that align with SDG are valued at 12 trillion US dollars globally. «There is so much to be done. Horyou, with SIGEF and Spotlight, is a tireless supporter of SDG as it offers channels of communication and funding for many organizations and projects that help to achieve the goals», reminds Parienti.

On the 25th of November, we celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. As part of its support of the cause, Horyou interviewed Juncal Plazaola Castaño, UN Women Specialist on Ending Violence Against Women.

Orange the world is a UN Women Campaign for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

What is UN Women’s approach to the elimination of violence against women?

We focus on four areas of work. The first of them is to work with partners, governments, civil society and stakeholders to revise or approve legislations and policies that meet international standards. It does not only regard violence but also equality and opportunities issues, like divorce and custody. We also work to improve services provided to women, namely legal, social, police and security services. Another area is prevention of sexism, men privilege and men dominance. We do that through women empowerment and by promoting more positive masculinity. The fourth pillar is about evidence and data. In order to know the magnitude of the problem and make governments and actors aware of it, we need to collect evidence. We do this with our partners, mostly academic.

Have you scored any recent progress in these areas?

In the area of legislation, UN women was an important actor on defining legal age of marriage in Malawi and some places in the Caribbean, focusing on preventing child marriage. We also helped to implement Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces, a program that aims to address sexual harassment. We are working with 27 cities in developing and developed countries, like in Winnipeg, Canada. The city has very high sexual harassment rates, especially with indigenous women and we involved with indigenous organizations to understand the scope of the problem and to set new public transportation initiatives. In Quito, Equador, we were partners of the municipal observatory of violence, which includes violence against women, too. They have a municipal budget allocation to the program, which shows great ownership and sustainability.

What is UN Women biggest challenge on eliminating violence against women?

One of them is accountability of perpetrators. It requires involvement of other actors and all of the pillars I mentioned before. If no legislation is involved, for example, the violence will continue as the perpetrators will think there is no penalty or consequence. We also need to address stereotypes, men dominance, men privilege and other social norms. Another big challenge is to reach those there are left behind, women who are exposed for their condition as women with disabilities, from ethnic minorities, lesbians, bisexuals, or women who are very young or older who experiment different types of violence. The last challenge I will mention is monitoring impact. We expect something to be achieved in 3 or 4 years, some change of social norms and attitude. I think we need to find the impact the work we are doing in a more realistic way.

Orange the world campaign. Photo: UN Women

Can we be hopeful that one day we will eliminate gender violence?

I am hopeful and I have observed some recent signs that gave me even more hope. One of them is the #metoo campaign. It shows the power of women’s voices and how to reach a momentum as the topic is not being hidden anymore. The campaign calls for accountability of perpetrators. And they are actually being called. It also shows that women are exposed not only related to domestic violence and women mutilation, but also to sexual and verbal harassment, rape and many other aspects. The other sign of hope is agenda 2030. The SDG set one specific goal for women, but there are also other hidden goals in the agenda. For instance, SDG goals dedicated to achieving inclusive and sustainable cities. It recognizes the centrality of equality, and how relevant it is for the international community.

What is the role of social media in UN Women campaigns?

The Internet and social media have a strong power to shape the ways we think. They are enablers of women empowerment. Social media gives voice to women and features stories of positive empowerment. It’s a very powerful tool for shaping stereotypes and the way we think and act, and a way to condemn discrimination. It creates a sense of community.

What does the color orange mean on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women?

From the 25th of November, we are ‘oranging’ the world for 16 days as part of the campaign. The color orange is a symbol of bright and optimistic future. The idea is to make social media to initiate a discussion about this future we want to have.

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!

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