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


Every new beginning includes fear and uncertainty. We asked 8 social innovators representing some of 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.

Yolanda Rueda, founder and current President from Cibervoluntarios Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes the use and knowledge of new technologies to alleviate social gaps, says, “There wasn’t any fear. On the contrary, there was a team eager to build an organization. A team focused to develop strategies and start thinking outside the box 17 years ago when the term “Social innovation” was very unknown in Spain. And moreover, there was optimism – if you start something with fear you will find more obstacles in your way. We are cybervolunteers and we are cyber-optimistic”.

Yolanda Rueda, Cibervoluntarios

According to the CEO and co-founder of Fresh Check, who has been included in the Forbes 30 under 30 list for Europe in 2017, “At the beginning our biggest fear was talking to customers. Our academic background made us lean towards developing the product in the background, before taking it out and talking to people. I wish I had an easy fix for how we overcame that fear, but I think it just took time to get used it! It didn’t take long though, quickly we realised how friendly and willing to help everyone was, especially if you’re just starting out with a new idea!”.

Alex Bond, Fresh Check

Chris Obrist, from Fab Luzern, launched the initiative very recently as a way of creating awareness among young children regarding the need to reduce plastic waste. He explains the many questions he raised when thinking about his initiative: “As with any project, time plays a big role: you always need more than you think! Bringing the project to fruition within a deadline is the challenge. Further, can people do it without help? Do they accept and adopt it? Can I make it any easier? …

Chris Obrist, Re-BUTTON, FabLab Luzern

Peter Frühmann, who joint forces with Khaled Al-Ostath, a Palestinian undergraduate student, to move forward a private initiative for a school for young orphans (from 5-6 years old) in Gaza, Palestine, to teach them reading and writing in English, shares his concern, “None of us was afraid, but we expected some opposition and resistance (mainly by Khaled’s Palestinian environment)”.

Peter Frühmann, Story Bag

As explained by the founder of DayCape, a digital image calendar for children with autism, “When we landed our first investment I thought I became afraid of the pressure. It felt like I would let down a great deal of people that invested in the idea if I failed. Before that It felt safer because it was more of a hobby project. But after a while I started to think more about what we achieved so far rather than the massive task at hand. That allowed me to feel less scared and more willing to take risks”.

Anton Håkanson, DayCape


Alejandro Hernández Renner is a reference in the region when it comes to rural development and social innovation, he shares what his concerns were, “We were afraid of not being able to comply of the large expectation about the project in the population. Our essential tool for overcoming it was, from the very beginning, adapting a methodology based upon collaboration, political neutrality, and support to innovative projects”.

Alejandro Hernández Renner, Fundación Maimona


Avantus is a centre for disabled people, with 30 to 70 percent working abilities. The general manager and founder of AVANTUS, reflects on his fears at the beginning of his initiative: “We were afraid mainly of being just another toy for kids and not being able to offer something special. When starting to sell the toys, step by step and piece by piece, we found that after 2 months we sold 20 monkeys per day. This overcame our fear of not being able to offer something different, and we are not afraid anymore, in fact, we do not have time for it”.

Matjan Cojhter, AVANTUS


Co-founder Fiori Zafeiropoulou, an academic and a social entrepreneur who holds an award winning PHD on Social Entrepreneurship, says, “I was afraid if my vision would ever become reality, if I would be able to do it. I kept being afraid although it was becoming a reality and it took some time before I realised that is was actually happening”.

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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