Can One Size Fit All? – Impressions from Ashoka’s «Innovations for Society»

Image: Ashoka Greece https://www.facebook.com/ashokagreece/

World problems, described generically, sound similar. Poverty, unemployment, lack of suitable housing, lack of sanitation, no access to running water, lack of health care; war, starvation, drought,  climate change. World problems, local problems, personal problems. Some appear to be identical, some are variations on the same theme, others seem unique. So how can these problems be solved and, moreover, who can solve them? This is where social entrepreneurs enter the scene; those passionate people who through their empathy try to create the reality they want to see in the future. They find solutions and implement them, one step at a time, until their ideas grow into something powerful and big enough to change people’s lives. The more ideas, the better.

At Ashoka’s event This Works: Solutions and Ideas for Employment and Recovery in Southern Europe, held with the support of Robert Bosch Stiftung at the Technopolis, in Athens, on April 29, 2015, we met seven Ashoka Fellows – creators who are seeking to replicate and spread their ideas, solutions and business models through collaborations with local partners.

At 180 Moires we were interested in the approach of Christian Vanizette and his social enterprise MakeSense.  As more and more social entrepreneurs worldwide are trying to create social innovation, they are finding it exceedingly difficult to access a sufficient number of experts locally to  support them in their efforts. Christian has built a global network of citizens who volunteer to engage their skills and creativity to provide solutions to social challenges through collaborative design. Over 10,000 members of the MakeSense community so far, have supported more than 300 social entrepreneurs worldwide and the numbers are rapidly growing.

So how can this model, which is fast-paced, open-sourced and extremely appealing to younger generations, be replicated in Greece?  Christian would like to grow fast through Universities; it should be easy to attract new members to the community through online and offline viral mechanisms. But is it enough to copy-paste the model?

“Ideas keep stacking up to reach the sky” (Muhammad Yunus). We feel that this is a good moment to take a step into another direction: that of involving 60+ year-olds into the community, tapping into the wealth of their experience. It will be a challenge to try adapting the model to different circumstances, another social setting, a different mindset and different spaces. But it can also bring excitement and passion for exploring new possibilities.

“Cool”, as Christian would say.

 

Author: Tonia Eliascou, 180 Moires Cofounder and Ηead of Training & Coaching, Email: tonia at 180moires dot org

 

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