How do you change the whole system?


Change happen when people take action and think in new ways. We asked advise from 8 social innovators representing some of the most dynamic social innovation initiatives on how new frames and ideas. The following answers are provided by people from different fields, sectors and countries who turned their ideas into a successful social innovation reality.

For Yolanda Rueda, founder and current President of Cibervoluntarios Foundation, “The Cibervoluntarios Foundation´s team have been working for 14 years training social and technological entrepreneurs, area leaders, who seek, detect and analyze social needs within their environment and improve it through the social use of technology”.  Furthermore she says…”The Cybervolunteers generate their own projects, framed by social innovation, by the use of new tools to solve old problems in a different way. And they are convinced that new technologies should not generate more gaps, but delete existing ones. The Cybervolunteers are social change agents, social and digital entrepreneurs, online and offline local heroes, using any type of technological tool to alleviate a social need…”.

Yolanda Rueda, Cibervoluntarios

According to the CEO of Fresh Check, Alex Bond, who has received international recognition by being included in the 2017 Forbes 30-under-30 list “Bizarre as it seems, there is only 1 on-the-spot test for surface hygiene. By developing Fresh Check, we are the first company to offer an alternative to what’s out on the market. This will help save companies money and allow them to more thoroughly test the hygiene of their facilities. Our business may not be the most glamorous or attention grabbing, but if we’re able to prevent even 1 outbreak of infection from bad cleaning practice we’ll be satisfied we’ve helped people out”.

Alex Bond, Fresh Check

Chris Obrist, the initiator of Re-Button and who launched the initiative very recently as a way of creating awareness among young children regarding the need to reduce plastic waste, declares, “Big question with a short answer: big changes happen in small steps! Maybe the ReButtons are a small step, with the potential to change minds”.

Chris Obrist, Re-BUTTON

Based on his experience, Peter Frühmann, owner of Storybag and an expert in the field of narrative techniques and storytelling, says “I think it has to come from grass root initiatives as this one, meaning that it has to be a long-term initiative that can start a movement and spread. When successful, it will possibly be embraced by a bigger community, and in the end by the system/society. Again, for this a ‘plan/strategy’ is necessary, but above all, stamina. The latter, I think, is often missing, and even the most innovative or creative initiatives shrivel up”.

Peter Frühmann, Story Bag

“Receiving technology as a person with special needs requires in most cases that you apply for governmental funding. For people with autism these technologies are very expensive and outdated. For example, mobile phones for children with autism are ten years old in an industry where phones update every year. We are enabling support to technology by the necessary support in existing platforms for autistic children. By doing so we are enabling children to be more inclusive in school and society” explains Anton Håkanson, founder of DayCape, a digital image calendar for children with autism that he started as a school project.

Anton Håkanson, DayCape


Based on his experience from working on innovation, rural development and entrepreneurship for over 25 years, both in Spanish as well as international organizations, Alejandro Hernández Renner, CEO of Fundación Maimona, believes that the way to change the whole system is, “Supporting impact-conscious social and business innovators”.

Alejandro Hernández Renner, Fundación Maimona


Matjan Cojhter, general manager and founder of AVANTUS an employment centre for disabled people (with 30 to 70 percent working abilities), explains “We want to provide employment opportunities for those who are at risk of social exclusion in our region, we do not pretend to change the whole system, just contribute to make our region a better place”.

Matjan Cojhter, AVANTUS


Co-founder Fiori Zafeiropoulou, an academic and a social entrepreneur who holds an award winning PHD on Social Entrepreneurship, says “… We empower our population to become self-reliant and to use their own economic resources to achieve their livelihoods and own long-term goals, incorporating unemployed local designers through a holistic approach that creates value for everyone involved, fostering environmentally sustainable processes through a zero-waste production process and through the use of sustainable, vegan, plat-based, organic and recycled textiles. We run awareness raising events through an emerging cluster of sustainable designers, city leaders, friends and collaborators in various Greek cities and Cyprus through Fashion Revolution Greece network… SOFFA produces clothes, accessories and sneakers shoes from natural, man-made, vegan or recycled materials”…

Furthermore, she adds, “We are integrating all refugees and migrants from any religion, ethnic background or age group. Each class comprises people of different skill base and experience allowing for peer to peer mentoring through a pairing learning approach that we implement”.

Fiori Zafeiropoulou, Social Fashion Factory, SOFFA


Want to know more what other Social Innovators think about their projects/initiatives, their ideas, their challenges, their plans for the future, and their lessons learned. Check out the Social Innovation Academy for more interviews, answers and other topics related to social innovation.


It will be the first Social Innovation Academy in Europe, with a fully online management training programme focusing exclusively on social innovation, developed EOLAS, Limitless and with 3 other partners.


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