«OECD Innovation Strategy ORGANISATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT The OECD is a unique forum where the governments of 30 democracies ...»
But Muller and Ricard did not stop there: they quickly realized that most chronic pains and diseases facing the elderly could have been avoided if they had practiced a relevant physical activity in their younger years. This was particularly true with populations holding physical jobs in sectors such as construction and factory lines. SIEL Bleu thus developed a service for companies to offer adapted physical activity on worksites: this service not only has a great impact on workers’ health, but also yields great economic returns for employers thanks to avoided work accidents and improved staff retention rates. Companies such as Bouygues Construction now offer these classes on all their construction sites.
Always striving to expand their impact, Ricard and Muller are currently extending their physical activity offer to populations with cognitive disorders, chronic and degenerative diseases. They are also working with adapted technology, to use digital images and video games as well as adapted sports equipment.
One can see that Ricard and Muller have gone way beyond traditional entrepreneurship: they could have provided sports classes to the elderly who could afford it and used traditional distribution mechanism. Driven by a vision for societal change, they have creatively collaborated across sectors and populations to dramatically increase their impact and reach the largest numbers. They work with government agencies, universities, companies and individuals to make this change possible. They are also expanding their reach to other European countries (Ireland, Brazil, etc.) Social Entrepreneurs tend to blurry the boundaries between sectors of interventions and target markets, as a social challenge does not stop where another one begins.
FOSTERING INNOVATION TO ADDRESS SOCIAL CHALLENGES
To correct an earlier insight, Drayton was quoted saying: “The only thing more powerful than a new idea in the hands of a Social Entrepreneur is a new idea in the hands of several Social Entrepreneurs”.
More and more often, thanks to new technologies and opportunities for collaborations, Social Entrepreneurs are combining models to offer integrated social value chains and address all the needs of a given population; or to expand their reach across regions.
They are also more aggressively partnering with businesses, which have the channels and the capitals to rapidly and effectively bring their models to scale. The multiplication of these hybrid value chains is true in all sectors and particularly dramatic in developing countries, where companies want to crack the emerging markets of the millions of poor Social Entrepreneurs are serving. The collaboration between Muhammad Yunus and Danone is a perfect example of a hybrid value chain in the food industry. Others are working on new models for housing, irrigation, farming and healthcare.
Conclusion: preparing an “Everyone a Changemaker 5“ Society
Social Entrepreneurs demonstrate that social change is not about social innovation: it is about their ability to identify the causes of social challenges, to mobilize key stakeholder groups to systematically address them, to implement and sustain empowerment models, to continuously deepen and expand their impact and to lift the institutional and economic barriers to their success.
Innovators in all sectors play a key role to infuse new ideas and collaborate with Social Entrepreneurs, as they hold pieces of solutions to systemic problems. To address social challenges, we hence need to connect innovators and Social Entrepreneurs through new platforms of communication and collaboration.
The Internet has opened an avenue for social networks and these virtual platforms are multiplying, which incentivize collaborations between Social Entrepreneurs and across sectors, pool resources and attract capital to Social Entrepreneurs. Changemakers, Global Giving, Idealist, Donorschoose.org or even the pages of Facebook are mere examples of a global phenomenon.
In parallel, new models of physical interactions between Social Entrepreneurs and changemakers from other fields are arising: old conference models are replaced by collaborative spaces allowing participants to build new 5. “Everyone a Changemaker” is the registered tagline of Ashoka.
FOSTERING INNOVATION TO ADDRESS SOCIAL CHALLENGESsolutions and create synergies for actions. They translate in a physical way what online collaborative spaces do virtually.
The world also needs more Social Entrepreneurs and innovators with the right tools and visions to address social challenges. To prepare this new generation, we need to transform education and start at a very early age.
It is demonstrated that Social Entrepreneurs have in a vast majority of cases been through a transformative experience in their young years: most of them have started a social or business venture when they were very young and / or successfully developed creative solutions to problems they had witnessed. These experiences have generally allowed them to develop the necessary creativity, empathy and ability to work in teams; and to acquire the confidence that they could be effective agents of change.
We need more and more young people to develop these skills so that in the future our societies will be able to count on a critical mass of people able to take charge of social challenges.
Social Entrepreneurs have clearly seen this opportunities and organizations such as Ashoka’s Youth Venture, Do Something, TakingITGlobal or the School for Social Entrepreneurs are working to empower young people and allow them to create these transformative experiences. Increasing numbers of leading universities are offering programs in Social Entrepreneurship to train the next generation of Social Entrepreneurs and managers who will be able to bring these changes to scale (INSEAD, NYU, Stanford to name a few).
We are currently in a critical time: as the pace of global changes and challenges is accelerating, so must be the democratisation of power and social engagement. Large-scale investments have to reinforce the right collaborative platforms for innovators and Social Entrepreneurs, and to invest in new forms of entrepreneurial and societal education.
6. Example of new modes of collaboration: UnConference model, described at www.unconference.net/; Evolutionize It!, described at http://evolutionizeit.blogspot.com/p/about-evolutionize-it.html#h_520#p_home
11. INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Programme, http://executive.education.insead.edu/socialentrepreneurship
12. NYU Catherine B. Reynolds Program for Social Entrepreneurship, www.nyu.edu/reynolds
13. Stanford Center for Social Innovation, http://csi.gsb.stanford.edu
About RISTEX The Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society (RISTEX) is a part of Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) that primarily functions as a funding agency for science and technology development. At the 1999 World Conference on Science in Budapest, jointly hosted by UNESCO and the International Council for Science (ICSU), the principle of “science in society and science for society” was declared as the role of science in the 21st century. RISTEX was established following the principles of the declaration. RISTEX supports Research and Development (R&D) through a cycle of activities from identifying social problems (I), establishing R&D focus areas (II), promoting R&D (III), producing and experimenting with “proto-types” (IV) and assisting the application of “proto-types” to wider areas (V) as seen in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Relationship between RISTEX’s activities and implementation in society
FOSTERING INNOVATION TO ADDRESS SOCIAL CHALLENGESThe R&D Area for tackling with climate change and environmental degradation A number of problems nowadays we face in terms of our sustainability (i.e. loss of bio-diversity, climate change, municipal and industrial waste overflow, fuel price volatility, deterioration of local economy and depopulation and so on) are techno-social problems, and complexly but closely interacting. These problems are the result of extremely rapid and worldwide modernization of mass production and consumption that is too much dependent on the exploitable petroleum supply particularly after WWII. Technology development is an essential factor for the solution, but for example, with regard to GHGs (Green House Gases) reduction, even if a technical scenario promises an excellent GHGs reduction, it would not be achieved within the required time if the socio-economic scenario related to for example legal controls and development of administrative systems and business models should not be reorganized with sufficient speed. Thus, technology would finally bring solutions to society only when it becomes a part of social system. In this context, technologies for problem solving do not necessarily have to be new and frontier but existing ones having the socio-economic aspects to meet social needs ‘appropriately’.
Similar to other OECD member countries, Japan has a number of research funds to science and technology development for tackling climate change and environment degradation. While those often focus on new and frontier technology development, the RISTEX’s R&D Area, CommunityBased Actions against Global Warming and Environmental Degradation (FY2008-2013) aims to develop and demonstrate novel approaches with “appropriate” technologies to 80% GHGs reduction by 2050 in the combination of technical scenario and socio-economic scenario for climate change and environmental solution with the quantitative evidence. Although “appropriate technologies” are normally described as simple technologies suitable for developing countries or less developed rural areas in developed countries, here we regard as technologies that contribute not only climate change and environmental degradation but also to regional sustainability by utilizing local mass, energy and human resources.
Reflecting our mission of the Area, the R&D project proposal is requested to be novel in their approach for tackling climate change and environmental degradation issues; in their approach for tackling problems at the regional level with people; in quantifying the expected effect; in developing regional independence with effective collaboration with a variety of stakeholders and local actors; in collaboration with researchers from both natural and social sciences sharing a unified goal and methodology, and practices “in the field”. The importance of collaboration among stakeholders
FOSTERING INNOVATION TO ADDRESS SOCIAL CHALLENGESand researchers both in social science and natural science has been gradually recognized.
The management Figure 2 shows the basic Area management framework that RISTEX designs. Each R&D Area invites applications that have a clear social mission of regional problem solving connected with CO2 emission reduction and a clear prospect of how to cooperate with a variety of local actors: university researchers, government, public-profit corporations, schools, industry, NPOs etc. Among the applications from the public, R&D projects are selected by the Area management team which is consisted of Area Director and Area Advisors who are specialists in a variety of areas and sectors related to the Area’s mission.
The Area management team has more frequent dialogues with the selected projects than the ordinal R&D of public funds to monitor the R&D progress and the effectiveness of the collaboration among groups and members within the project. Through the dialogues and visiting the project fields, the Area management team shares the challenge of each project and gives advices and supports as appropriate. However, the discontinuity of the project could be decided even in the middle of the project period if the Area management team judges that the project would not bring the significant outcome to achieve the Area’s mission or not have enough interaction to share a unified goal, methodology and practices in the field among a variety of groups and members.
In June 2010 ten R&D projects were in being implemented across Japan (see Figure 3). They are working on the Area’s mission coupled with a various regional challenges such as housing issues, forest devastation, marketing and retailing, finance and emission transaction, natural regeneration, regional economy, rural development and so on.