The International Social Entrepreneurship conference, organized by INSEAD Business School, YCAB Foundation, Gadjah Mada University and Binus Business School in Jakarta last Wednesday, proves that the snowball of social entrepreneurship has started rolling bigger and faster than it has ever been in Indonesia. Both a growing trend and a relief – knowing that the country is in dire need of social entrepreneurs; according to the World Bank, over 80% of its population is categorized as poor or at the border of poverty.
This year’s theme, “Social Economy 4.0: Innovation, Sustainability, and Responsibility,” highlights the essence of collaboration among the public, private and social sectors where interests of all the three sectors are more closely aligned. The Social Economy 4.0 is a new generation of the social economy that focuses on triple bottom line: financial performance, environmental impact, and social change.
The Social Economy 4.0 is a new generation of the social economy that focuses on triple bottom line: financial performance, environmental impact, and social change.
It is therefore delightful to see an exponential increase of the number of social entrepreneurs who are committed to helping those at the bottom of the pyramid in developing countries including Indonesia. Some of these social entrepreneurs were attendants of the conference and they include Toshi Nakamura who founded a technology marketplace for the developing world known as Kopernik, Veronica Colondam who is pioneering an “education-linked microfinance” social investment model, and Mark Ruiz who created an enterprise called Rags2Riches to help marginalized communities create fashion-designer items from recycled rags.
A major part of the conference is its nine workshops led by prominent figures and experts in the field and covered various topics including “The Role of Media in a New Social Economy 4.0,” “The Roles of Women in Advancing Social Change,” “Leading Innovation at the Base of the Pyramid,” “Inclusive Business Design to Meet Changing Social Needs,” and “Youth Perspective on Social Economy 4.0.” The workshops were seen from four lenses: environment, gender, technology, and values and transparency. In addition, the participants were actively sharing and contributing their ideas and knowledge into the discussions including scribing every workshop and synthesizing the different topics at the end of the workshop session.
Here are some things shared. Meena Vaidyanathan who founded Niti Consulting shared her concern that there are many similar problems and solutions that people are working on from scratch because they don’t collaborate. Jack Sim who founded World Toilet Organization believes that values should be defined by the communities themselves, not imposed on them by some superior. Ben Bowler, founder of World Weavers, stresses the importance of redefining our values; that ‘meaning’ should be the new wealth and that we should accumulate legacy, not mere money. Sandiaga Uno, founder of the Indonesian Social Entrepreneur Association, lives on four work principles: work hard, work smart, work until the work is done, and work sincerely.
Indonesia is number two after Saudi Arabia in terms of consumption. Indonesians are most likel to give something new a try out of peer pressure – whether it be a new restaurant, a new gadget, or a new fashion style. Let us hope, too, that social entrepreneurship will soon be embraced by the old and the young in the public, private, and social sectors in our beloved country, Indonesia. Social entrepreneurship is afterall the new ‘in’ thing in Indonesia and the world – and you want to give it a try.