The hitchhiker’s guide to social change
Social entrepreneurship as a trend
In the past years, social entrepreneurship has become a trend in many countries. A slow but steady revolution. From a social entrepreneur’s perspective, every year brings in more and more organizations who aim to support, investigate and develop social entrepreneurship, community based projects, vocations.
Some of these organisations are doing an incredible job, such as “makeSense” with whom we organised a creative brainstorming session in their early development stage, or “Social business model”, a Swiss group of bright creators who are developing a new approach to what a business model is and should be in the world of social entrepreneurship. They are developing a good amount of useful tools and methodologies for social entrepreneurs.
It comes as somewhat of a surprise that despite the large amount of tools at the disposal of future social entrepreneurs, many of these projects have weak foundations and some are based on wrong assumptions.
The main part of social entrepreneurs are young, freshly graduated students, mothers on maternity leave, or active people who do not recognize themselves in their current day jobs. They all have this in common that they want to have a positive impact on society.
And from that root, we find quite a few very interesting projects out there.
What about the critical first steps ?
While starting work on a social initiative the first steps are critical. These are the fundamentals of the project. It is very often assumed that you are an expert in the domain, that you want to have an impact on, and deep knowledge of, the context. Therefore the tools you use in the fabrication of regular business models – management tools, marketing tools, etc. – take very little into account when it comes to your deep motivations, and provide little in the way of exercises and measurables that will help you build and assess your project at an early stage.
Starting a social enterprise can look overly complicated and there is a need for a simple and creative methodology, starting with understanding who you are and what your dreams are, as well as how these dreams may be anchored in reality. One needs to be able to add a personal twist and to join forces to co-create a solid project. Seeing business as one of the tools, and not an aim, is an important part of this process.
The hitchhiker’s guide to social change, a method for the first steps
Work on the guide started over 3 years ago, after attending a conference on social entrepreneurship where many projects were business based rather than impact based. Some assumptions held by those who stood behind these initiatives turned out to be wrong. There was a need for a tool to accompany the creation of a proposal in these early steps.
From this observation, work on the guide for change-makers started, with the aim of providing a simple, fun, and creative method. Going through the process of creating a social initiative, many questions raised and were solved using design thinking methods and tools used by intercultural training programs. By combining these different tools together and linking them to a social business model tool, it was possible to break down the process of creating a social project in small creative steps.
The first step: “Know yourself, and define your dream.”
The second step: “Reality check & your own twist”
The third step: “Join forces and find the resources”
The fourth step: “Co-create and analyse through feedback”
These diverse exercises are coming all together and linked to specific points of a canvas, which gives you an overview of the project.
Using this method we developed the JuHu, a social enterprise fighting stigmatisation of people with disabilities by presenting their skills as craftsmen of high quality design objects. We are currently crowdfunding the distribution of the book via kisskissbankbank, and are well on our way to achieve our objective ahead of schedule. The guide was publicly presented for the first time on the same stage where Stalin & Lenin met in Tampere, Finland.
Check it out. It might help you find a way to realize a dream or two.
Charles Bourrier is a creative and passionate Swiss social designer & social entrepreneur based in Latvia.