In 2014, Kongossa Technology and their partners bring together social entrepreneurs from Quebec, Ontario and the USA to discuss about the positive impact of technology (watch the video below).
Two years later, we still face a lot of challenges and there are several social issues that need to be fixed. A group of social entrepreneurs, tech leaders and international consultant share though on what should be our key focus in 2016.
Social Innovation trends in 2016
The principle issue will be welcoming and integrating the Syrian refugees. Challenges related to this issue include an immediate need for materials but also the need for education, employment and health. These refugees don’t speak the language. Their children have stopped school and they arrive in the middle of the winter.
WeHostRefugees.org is a platform of social innovation that proposes to Montrealers to welcome a Syrienne family for a few months. Such an innitiative will help fasciitate the social integration of these families. I am certain that many more platfroms and initiatives will join this movement.
Being in the domain of technology, I witness the initiative of platforms such as District3 who gather students in the same area the students, entrepreneurs as well as experts. All the interactions occur in an open area where we certainly find the largest concentration of entrepreneurs per square meter. I believe other organizations will benefit from studying this model in detail.
In 2016 top social challenges are #migration #youthintegration #health & #poverty
The social innovation space should accelerate #knowledgepool #ementoring. As the crowd is reaching an interesting maturity level we social innovators can start raising collective power and leverage international connectivity.
Also the technology and platforms using the #crowd need to form alliances like the airline industry to funnel positive impact with #crowdfunding #crowdsourcing
In the past few years, I have noticed that in Montreal the concept of social innovation have brought various actors and communities closer to each other. These organizations functioned in a vaccuum before and disagreed about certain approaches. This is true about the social economy sector which defends the structure of collective governance. This also applies to the domain of social entrepreuneurship which prioritize the social impact of the enterprises to their governance. Similarily, we have witnessed the same affair in collaborative economy which gathers the enterprises whose economique model is based on collaboration and exchange of information often through digital services. The concept of social innovation is adequately inclusive and attractive rally all the entrepreneurial communities who wish to react positivley to world evenents. I have a positive perception of this movement.
I believe that now the stage is set for organized efforts to demistify and popularize the concept of social innovation. The same way that the concept of sustainable development was finally popularized. The real challenge is to encourage the entrepreneurs and organizations to subscribe to this movement without overusing the term or stripping it from all its meaning. We are all familiar with the concept of social washing and it is about a real risk for which we have to be equipped with tools to adequately evaluate the social impacts of the projects and enterprises.
Eventually, however we acquire physical spaces such as Esplanade, Salon 1861, Temps libre, or support programs such as À Go, Impact8, RECODE or all sorts of events such as Montreal’s ecosystem of social innovation in 2015 are adequately consolidated. It will hopefully continue the same path in 2016 which is a great year for social innovation.
Social innovation will get closer to the hackerspaces and other third parties that constitute the tools that will help the society to manage certains present ruptures and the ones that will occur in the future. Besides their uniquenss, they constitute one of the elements of a vaste ecosystem of third parties that will help agents of social innovation to emerge in order to capture all the richness and contribute more actively to the creation of the smart city. The new meeting places that will expand the commun interest around variety of themes such as the digital, the technology, the science and even the arts. In the past few years, these new places house a panoply of tools that have allowed many unimaginable projects to be completed quickly and cheaply. To name a few of these projects; 3D printing, laser cutter, digital milling machine, components such as Arduino or Raspberry Pi ( refer to Smart citizen).
The future prospects of the social innoveation in general let us get a glimpse of interesting horizons: partnerships are being formed with the sectors of renewable energy, sustainable development, social responsibility and more local production. All of them place social innovation at the heart of the cirular economy where the notions overlap and collaboration makes sense. My favorite innovation “prospects”, those who react and act: POC21, who it took them 80 days with COP21
While working in Haiti last year, I had the opportunity to meet humanitarian workers involved in post-earthquake reconstruction, and also entrepreneurs involved in programs such as Digital Jam Haiti. As I reflect back on 2015, and look ahead to 2016, there are two areas where I see potential for technology to fuel social innovation.
The first is helping entrepreneurs be more successful. My belief is that the key to economic empowerment is through entrepreneurship, and channelling more funds directly to entrepreneurs. The second is improving the distribution of humanitarian aid.
New technologies focused on Fintech (financial technology) are exploding onto to startup scene. I believe there are opportunities to harness fintech for social good. One area of opportunity is reducing friction in financial transactions, whether it is for mobile/online payments for entrepreneurs in emerging markets, or for humanitarian relief.
Translokal is an early-stage Haitian startup looking to improve inter-city transport through online and mobile bookings. Technology that facilitates payments on their platform will help drive the growth of their business. Tcho-tcho is an example of a solution that enables mobile payments in Haiti.
The International Red Cross recently released a report suggesting that giving money to refugees directly can be a more effective way of helping them than providing food, clothing or other forms of aid. Segovia is an example of a company building technology to help improve the efficiency of humanitarian aid distribution.
Two themes around social innovation might be highlighted in 2016. Storytelling and social impact. These two themses will be fused together in a way that storytelling will be one preferred way of increasing organizations’ social impact. In fact, may will make the effort to demonstrate how social innovation positively influnces citizens/ users and the communities. By telling stories about innovative social innitiatives or recounting the impact of these initiatives on their lives, they will allow the public and the investers to better understand and respond to the organisations that advocate for social innovation. In order to better achieve touch sensitive individuals, the organisations that wish to have more impact should be able to define their organizational personality and develop stories with which the listeners with empathise. The objective of this sort of communication is to bring to light their contribution and their invelvement in the resolution of complex social problems.
The tragic events we’ve experienced worldwide in 2015 let me think that the world has ever need this level of mobilization and collaboration from the Civil Society, Organizations and Governments to innovate and suggest new sustainable solutions that will positively affect communities.
Montreal and Quebec will certainly be able to embody these necessary social innovations because the social sector is enjoying unprecedented popularity, particularly in the younger generation. 2016 will allow multidisciplinary actors of social innovation to federate within an inclusive community, sharing a common vision of its actions and its purpose.
The new solutions to stop social inequalities, in our dependence on fossil fuels, to help students to stay in school or to ensure food security that we should implement will be possible if we manage to break with the status quo, especially if we are able to experiment, to adopt a critical and reflective view of our actions and to take risks. To make this happens, all levels of government must recognize the fundamental contribution of social innovation in the valuing and supporting as well as the technological and industrial innovations.
I therefore hope that 2016 is a year in which the social innovation community will continue to raise the passion and desire for commitment, but also a year in which we will see more citizens, artists, entrepreneurs, researchers, innovators, organizations and institutions on the path of social transformation.
Posts on this profile were created by members of the Kongossa team. Here, we discuss social innovation related topics. You’ll find our writers based between our offices in Montreal and Yaounde during our kws forum or Kossi events