On Monday 26 and Tuesday 27, November, 2013 the first European Social Innovation Assemblytook place in Amsterdam. Organized by Fay Divina, this event, unique in its kind, brought together 100 social innovators from the 4 corners of Europe, and even North America and South America. Thematic approaches went from stories of social entrepreneurship to the conditions favoring its development and governance challenges. The attendance was composed of social entrepreneurs, some academics and finance people.
Located on a canal in the center of the city, looking like a Paris or Berlin cabaret , the Odeon offered an appropriate stage for this event inspiring and learning .
The first wealth is, here as elsewhere, human.
That is why , before returning to the teachings of the European Social Innovation Assembly and on concepts of social innovation and social entrepreneurship, we propose to English-speaking public a series of portraits of social entrepreneurs , youth and other more experienced.
I begin today by one of the social entrepreneurs whose biography most impressed me, and who was one of my roommates in Amsterdam during the event: Lain Heringman.
Lain Heringman started his serial social entrepreneur career in a Mexican city dear to my heart, Oaxaca. He understood that tourism could be a useful tool for development, and then co-founded Investours which also developed projects in Tanzania. The implementation of a business plan for articulating responsible tourism and micro-credit then led to the creation of Bloom Microventures.
During this European Social Innovation Assembly, Lain transmitted us his enthusiasm in starting businesses in the Americas and Asia, his insight, quality that I would find in most social entrepreneurs present at the Social Innovation Assembly, but also its sense of urgency for the challenges currently facing humanity.
The session on Planetary Boundaries was the opportunity to tackle this issue of the emergency to act.
In 1972 already the Club of Rome report announced that if our economy continued to follow its trajectory then, a “collapse” of civilization was predictable in the middle of this century. The update of this report by D. Meadows 30 years and 40 years later makes it possible to pinpoint 2030 as the critical moment when this shift can occur if we do not act now. A parallel session addressed the social aspects, focusing on the issue of habitat.
Acting without waiting to reach the limits of social acceptability and planetary life support systems, this is the drive of social entrepreneurs. The eclectic and impressive early journey of Lain (musician, photographer) did not prevent him from being effective. This entrepreneurial spirit is often a team spirit, as we will see in the examples developed in the next part. Team spirit is well reflected on the site Bloom Microventures, cofunded by Lain.
Portraits SOIAeu © Pierre Johnson 1/4