What is social innovation? A social innovation is a new solution to a societal problem that is an improvement in effectivity, efficiency, sustainability, or justness. These new strategies, concepts, ideas and organisations meet the needs of different aspects of society from working conditions and education to community development and health. It involves cooperation of all 3 business sectors – government, for-profit, and non-profit – to extend and strengthen civil society, creating value primarily benefiting society rather than private individuals.
Speaking at Sustainable Brands Barcelona on the subject are 3 amazing people heading socially innovative projects.
Miguel Neiva formed a system that allows the colour blind to recognise colour through an Ashoka project. It is used in text books and it is already being implemented in public images and city maps. He aims to have it implemented worldwide to bridge the gap in acceptance and respect of marginalised people.
Merjin Everaarts developed Dopper – a water bottle with a message. Cradle to Cradle Certified, the product is completely designed for circular economy to reduce plastic waste and inspire social innovation.
“I think businesses with the sole aim of making a profit no longer have a place in our present world. The global challenges of sustainability and climate are so great that the focus of companies has to shift.” – Merjin Everaarts
Antonio Vaccaro, a teacher at the IESE business school helping facilitate Sustainable Brands Barcelona, is a researcher and volunteer at Addiopizzo, a non-profit that established an anti-mafia certificate in Sicily. “Pizzo,” the Italian name for protection money, is a sort of “extorted tax” imposed by the Mob and a rampart part of social injustice in Sicily. Founded on the belief an entire people which pays pizzo is a people without dignity, Addiopizzo facilitates Sicilian tourism connecting businesses which refuse to pay pizzo through the socially responsible travel agency Addiopizzo Travel.
Additionally, the consultancy firm organising Sustainable Brands Barcelona 2016, I want to save the world with marketing, leads social innovation projects, such as Coca-Cola Proyecto Gira. The innovating project helps at-risk youth find their way, as inspired by the Spanish word Gira, meaning “to turn” by exposure to professionals and projects in music, theatre and arts. Through the company’s relationships and activities, they put youth in touch with the working world and provide internship opportunities, inspiring creativity and the search for passion.
To be aware of, find, and implement solutions to difficult and important global problems, we must all work together for social innovation.