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SOCIAL INNOVATORS FROM 20 COUNTRIES GATHERED IN UKRAINE AT SIA SUMMIT

Austria, Germany, the USA, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Turkey, Kazakhstan are just some of the countries that gathered for the SIA Summit-2019. The Summit is one of the largest social innovation forums and it is held annually. In 2019, Ukraine was honored to host the Summit and its main organizer was the Ukrainian Social Academy. “This is the largest summit we have ever organized. It brought together 140 social entrepreneurs, researchers and philanthropists”, said the SIA Executive Director Jakob Detering.

The participants of the Summit admitted that it was a real challenge for them to discuss social problems in a country involved in the war: “We need to understand what we can do to help deal with the problems in society caused by the war”, Jakob says. So, this year, there were lots of talks at the summit about how social entrepreneurship can help to build peace. “Social entrepreneurship brings people together around a common social goal and thus facilitates the dialogue between different social groups, particularly those who often find themselves socially isolated. This is where peace-building starts, because in a global context, peace is impossible without understanding within society”, commented Petro Darmoris, the Executive Director of the Ukrainian Social Academy.

Many interesting thoughts and ideas came up during the discussion of the problems of poverty and youth unemployment, on which the Ukrainian Social Academy focuses its work. Indeed, despite the energy, initiative and desire to change the world for the better, young people often face the problems of finding a decent job. “When studying at universities or other educational institutions, young people acquire the knowledge that often does not meet the requirements of the labor market, they do not have the knowledge or skills that are essential for the job”, says Petro.

Even if you have already devoted your life to an important initiative, how can you understand whether your actions really affect something? Summit experts have suggested many techniques for measuring the impact your project has. “In order for your actions to bring a long-lasting reasult, you need to develop a clear guiding strategy. It is also important to have a thoughtful communication strategy, since you need to bring all what you do to the outside world. Else, it is worth thinking in the context of the industry in which you work. In communications, you need to appeal to decision-makers: for example, those who can influence laws or education in the sphere of social entrepreneurship,” said Franz Karl Prüller, a representative of the Erste Foundation.

The summit was attended by 70 social entrepreneurs, as well as impact investors, social innovation experts and representatives of еру organizations that develop social entrepreneurship. This proves the fact that the social enterprise ecosystem continues to grow and develop.

“We are on the brink of explosive development of social business. There are many reasons for this: generational change, the paradigms of thinking, the social course of big companies, the need for social realization of consumers, etc. But on the whole, the business climate in the country leaves much to be desired, so this boom is a matter of more than one year”, considers Mykhaylo Melnyk, the CEO of the Ukrainian Social Academy.