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What were you afraid of at the beginning and how did you overcome your fear?

Every new beginning includes fear and uncertainty. We asked 7 social innovators representing some the most dynamic social innovation initiatives to describe their fears at the beginning, how they confronted them 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 overcome their fears.

‘Naturally, we were a little afraid to begin with! Our main concern was the attendance. However, Athenians seemed to love Hub Science from its very beginning.’ says Nicholas Protonotarios who is in charge of “The Hub Events” series of lectures in social sciences.

Nicholas Protonotarios, The Hub Events

‘The major thing that you fear when starting a venture like this, as in most ventures, is whether you can make it economically sustainable.’ says Konstantinos Politis, founder of Socialinnov, a non-profit endeavour with a mission to eliminate the digital skills gap and high unemployment rates by educating individuals and connecting technological talent with the private sector.

Konstantinos Politis, Socialinnov 

According to the co-founder of Care Across, Thanos Kosmidis, who runs a digital start-up company focusing on cancer `the fear was primarily that of the unknown, as well as the realisation that one can never fully understand the needs of someone who has been diagnosed with cancer and who lives with the disease every single day. The primary fear, that of the unknown, was actually overcome quite easily – it was clear that the unknowns we face are much smaller in scope and impact compared to those faced by cancer patients worldwide. The most important fear, that of the patient perspective, has been overcome through (a) the thousands of patients we have interviewed, and (b) the thousands of patients we have supported and who we continue to support through our services.’

Thanos Kosmidis, Care Across

‘I was initially afraid that people would not understand what I could see as needs, patterns and proposed solution and that I had no good way to provide proof of my concept. I encountered many apathetic people, disinterested, even cynical, thinking either that I was out of my mind being overenthusiastic or that I had some hidden agenda behind all of this altruistic vision. Then I realised that there are people who actually do grasp the idea, get enthused and even have similar experiences and observations, these were rare but each time I met someone, they made my day bright and shiny. This light kept me going during the hours of darkness, until I encountered the next light. So I set a goal to find such people and focus on working with them, ignore the disbelievers. This strategy helped me overcome my fears and apprehension.‘ says Toni Staykova, co-founder of the UKeMED Platform which works as a single open operational space to support the development and deployment of telematic services for the management and sharing of knowledge and experience among healthcare professionals in all operational aspects around the world.

Toni Staykova, UKeMED 

‘At the beginning we were afraid of not keeping our large network of skilled volunteers busy and of not providing immediate support to our entrepreneurs. Over time we have realized that there is an art to matching people in this way and we now recognize that the right dynamics between the mentor and mentee must be addressed and that the social entrepreneur must be at the right point of his business journey to receive certain information. There are no quick fixes or short cuts!’ says Anna-Liisa Googs, Co-Founder and Partner at C3 Partners – Executives on Demand (C3P), a UAE-based advisory firm providing senior executive support services to businesses needing temporary management solutions.

Anna-Liisa Goggs, Consult and Coach for a Cause (C3)

According to the co-founder and CEO of Reload Greece, Effie Kyrtata, ‘there are many fears you face when you start something out of nothing, the uncertainty is so great that almost everything is done for the first time and there is no predetermine road for success. Although you can read many stories, books and guides about what to do, you ultimately come to the realisation that this is your road that you need to build it with your vision, purpose and values. Fears can be turned into the biggest strengths and drivers. The fear that you will never have done what you envision and that you may regret not starting at all for me is quite a powerful force to keep you committed, focused and determined to succeed and keep trying even when you feel like things may go wrong and fail.’

Effie Kyrtata, Reload Greece

According to Adetunji Adeniran, co-founder of Hopefied Network, admits: `for every starter, acceptance is always the first hurdle and I was not exempted. I battled this for weeks before we finally test run it with a low-cost online platform. As soon as the audience began to grow, we moved to the next hurdle which was getting funding. The full online platform was setup from my savings through internship with P&G but offline initiatives were delayed for 2 years. During this 2-year period, I saved money meant for vacations and personal allowances in a separate account to launch the offline initiatives in 2016. The offline has been ongoing now for 3 consecutive years (2016, 2017, 2018) and on track with expected results. Third challenge was recruiting selfless volunteers and partners. We started with 5 people in 2016 for the offline activities and we have grown to 163 volunteers today. In 2018, we started receiving donations from people who believe in our work and two partners are granting scholarships to brilliant and indigent pupils in our communities.’

Adetunji Adeniran, Hopefield Network

Would you like to learn how inspiring social innovators answer other important questions such as how to start your project from scratch or how to capture and engage your audience?

Check out the Social Innovation Academy – the first fully online management training programme focusing exclusively on social innovation.  If you are interested in keeping up with this project, you can subscribe to our newsletter, become one of our friends or follow us on social media (LinkedInTwitter and Facebook). We welcome all requests for collaboration here.

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