We are on our way home from Ashoka’s European Changemaker Summit (ECMS), hosted in the vibrant city of Barcelona. Here we spent three collaborative, insightful and transformational days together with our European community of Ashoka Fellows, partners, Ashoka Support Network (ASN) members, Ashoka staff and friends.
It was an amazing experience, full of new impressions, inspiration and the kind of understanding and clarity that comes from joining dots together in new and unexpected ways. While still having the experience fresh in our minds, we wanted to share some of our highlights and those of some of our Nordic partners that were part of it.
The backdrop to the Summit are the social and environmental challenges we are facing in Europe and globally. Challenges that are increasingly complex and can only be solved with new ways of creating collaborative solutions. The European Changemaker Summit was born to offer us the opportunity to discovering these new ways of working and start moving towards sustainable solutions.
We spent nearly three days in Barcelona’s stunning venues, from the Tivoli Theatre, to the Gaudi’s Casa Batlló and the main conference hall was in the Design Museum. The days were deigned to let us stop, reflect and engage in how we can all be involved in collaborative solutions for Europe’s challenges. We did this by following a changemaker path - starting with celebrating social innovation and then connecting and learning with and from the most impactful Social Entrepreneurs in Europe. The hypothesis behind the event is that personal connections and mutual admiration leads to collaboration – and if that is so, then the connections we made and the admiration we felt mean much exciting collaboration is due for 2020 and beyond.
The ECMS journey started on Monday evening where more than 300 people from Ashoka’s European community were joined by 1000 more guests from Spain, and together we celebrated the 16 new Ashoka Fellows elected in 2019. As we all know Fellows are great at disrupting conventional boundaries by collaborating across sectors, and these 16 are no exception. For example, the new Ashoka Fellow from Belgium, Alberto Alemanno, founder of The Good Lobby, is democratizing lobbying for citizens all across Europe and making impact at a policy level as a result. Jennifer Lexmond, founder of EasyPeasy, an Ashoka Fellow from the UK, is building a more socially mobile society by inspiring parents and children everywhere to learn through play, ensuring that the crucial years of brain development are not missed. And Emmanuel Vincent, founder of Science Feedback, an Ashoka Fellow from France, is creating an internet where users have access to scientifically sound and trustworthy information by encouraging journalists and digital platforms to adjust the way they disseminate science-based information.
What did we do apart from celebrating these fantastic doers and Changemakers from our region? ECMS gave lots of space for getting to know new people through many networking exercises, and evenings of ‘community dinners’ hosted in 28 different homes across Barcelona, deep listening exercises and interactive games. We were given the opportunity to show up as the human beings we are, regardless of our roles back home. Through the strong and purposeful connections made we moved to the next stage; collaboration.
The first day also offered a chance for the roughly 50 ASN members to meet each other, including three attending from our Nordic ASN community (Katarina Walter from Antrop; Sean Cory from Oliver Wyman and Magnus Uggla). ASN members are successful, innovative leaders from a variety of fields who see entrepreneurship as the primary engine for economic and societal development. Unlike traditional philanthropists, ASN members are themselves Changemakers who fully apply their creativity, energy and connections to effect positive social change – working both directly with Fellows and with the wider strategic direction of our local offices – we love them!
The conference consisted of five main paths. In the Venture Philanthropy path, we reflected about effective partnerships between funders and Social Entrepreneurs for system change. ‘Who funds the system changers’ is such a key and important question to resolve and we have such admiration for those that chose to do so. The Changemaker Companies path gave us the chance to reflect about social impact in corporates who have moved far beyond CSR, such as Danone, Boehringer Ingelheim, IKEA, Nestlé and others. At the Capacity Building sessions we were introduced to new tools, methodologies and skills for systems change (for example a report on our most recent findings on how to fund system change which we hope to share with you all soon). The Sustainable Development Goals path addressed the latest trends and solutions in migration, health, education, gender equality and finally the Social Entrepreneurship path questioned our sector on its strategies to become even more diverse, inclusive and transformative.
With warm regards,
Emma Lindgren & Sarah Prosser
PS. Read more at www.ecms.ashoka.org.