You have an excellent idea for a project. You’ve planned and analysed your alternatives, however nothing has come of it. We asked advice from 8 social innovators representing some of the most dynamic social innovation initiatives to describe the beginning of their projects, how they decided to make the first step and moved their projects forward. The following answers are provided by people from different fields, sectors and countries who turned their ideas into a successful social innovation reality. So let’s see how successful people make their projects happen.
It started with a deep understanding of the struggles that a child with dyslexia has to go through within the regular educational system. And a very honest desire to contribute to positive change, rather than complain. The first idea, to make a digital product around one of the little ‘hacks’ that we used to help with reading, came spontaneously, and it was very ambitious. We were talking augmented reality and advanced glasses. So to start with, we scaled it down and then got busy. We were communicating with the community about our progress, talking to teachers and parents from the start. This kept us motivated. When we were sure that the product had a future, we started looking seriously at the economics and how to fund it. We founded a company to get access to public funding, but we were not successful. At the moment we continue to invest our time, but at a certain point, we will probably need to find an investor.
After meeting and discussing food waste solutions, we became closer and decided to use our food waste expertise with Rethink2gether. That was like the evidence. Things developed naturally and since then we have been inspiring each other with new ideas and solutions to reduce food waste. We are convinced of the importance of reducing food waste on both the business side and the individual side and we aim to be part of the solution. We are also passionate about solutions that lead to zero waste and we aim to develop our expertise in this direction.
We designed the business model but we didn’t have the money for any kind of payroll. We were four partners, and I was the only one who worked in the company. I was from the design field, while the others were in the area of management, quality, internationalisation and the legal area (…) The company was created in May 2010 and the first licence was sold at the end of 2010. Then the idea was to test this further, without funding; we had no money to invest, no money to pay interest or a bank loan. We were selling licences and adjusting the price, finding the renewable licensing model, and we were doing it across all scopes, except for one: education. I’ll tell you more about that.
In our specific situation, the basic idea was to cooperate with the school in the management of some facilities (cantina, cafeteria) and to re-insert some unused assets into the economic track, such as a small farmland and some rooms formerly used for school purposes into a service for people with low skills and at risk of discrimination.
Given the ambitious nature of my initiative – it runs down, after all, to no less than building an alternative, decarbonising monetary system – it dawned on me after a while that I had better start at a relatively small scale to prove that the concept works. As it happens, the little country where I live has a lot of advantages as a lab for social innovation, and I decided to choose Luxembourg as testbed, rather than launching the survcoin into to worldwide crypto-universe and hope for the best. I created a non-profit organisation with friends and started to look for local partners and funding.
Our first step was to build an online platform for people to be able to register. We realised that we needed to build a really user-friendly process, in order to make it easy for people to join our actions. Then it was all about moving to action as soon as possible. We believed that the faster we could try our initiative out in the real world, the more useful insights we would receive, compared to theoretical feedback and predictions/analysis. Our first collaboration happened just 20 days after our launch. Since then and even today, we haven’t lost the focus of our actions, but without forgetting to always evaluate our process and ensure the improvement of the final outcomes.
Our initial product lines were developed through personal savings, family support and institutional borrowing. Progoti entered the market in October 2017 and started collecting contributions from both interested wholesale partners and end customers. Each worker’s individual pension policy costs a little over CDN $200 per year. In the final three months of 2017 we raised CDN $1100 and enrolled 6 workers for 2018. This year, in 2020, we have 22 workers covered by the programme.
This was fully intended to be a grassroots driven project based on community sensing that loneliness was an issue that people in the town were concerned with. We’d wanted to avoid going for any form of funding to see whether the solution would scale through peer to peer/community group interaction and the shareable nature of the badges themselves.
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