Dear governments from all over the world, we are writing to you to share a few little ideas on how you could rapidly scale innovative solutions to the biggest social and environmental challenges in your countries.
How to invent and scale solutions to social and environmental problems in your country?
Social and environmental problems are growing in every country. Education, training & employment, waste, contamination, etc. Yours may not be exempted! We hardly imagine what a headache it might be for you…
We have good news! Everywhere, citizens and organizations are creating and building new solutions to those problems. These new solutions are both impactful on the problem they tackle, and have a sustainable business model on the long term. We call them Social Businesses. Why should this matter to you? Because these “social businesses” can contribute to solve the existing problems we are all facing, without having a need for infinite subsidies. Supporting them at their start would allow you to use each year public money to invest in a better society, in a more efficient and sustainable way.
As an example, Siel Bleu enables aging people to live in better health thanks to their adapted physical activities. The elderly that participate to Siel Bleu exercices on a weekly basis proved to be more healthy, have reduced their drug consumption, have less fall or accidents. As a result, the “Sécurité Social” expenses are reduced (drug consumption, hospitalisation, …)
Another inspiring example is the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, started by Nobel Peace Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus. Grameen is the biggest bank of this country and found a way through micro-credit to help solve poverty at scale in the country with a sustainable business model. By lending small amounts of money to villagers, they enable them to create their own economic activities, generating growth for the whole country.
(By the way thank you for your support to MakeSense and Y Generation for the Google Impact Challenge | France Doc!)
These entrepreneurs are pioneers, building innovative models to the biggest stakes of our societies, in close interaction with their beneficiaries. With MakeSense, we believe in their creativity to invent long-term solutions. We believe in the potential of their solution to scale up and have impact at a global scale. But they won’t make it alone!
Then, how to make this happen? We believe that we need to engage entrepreneurs along with big corporations, governments and citizens, to solve the challenges our society is facing. We believe in collective action! Governments have a key role to play to bring those actors together, to get inspired to modernize their public policies and take social innovations to the next level.
How can governments commit to scale Social Innovations rapidly?
For 4 years, we have been working along with 20 000 citizens and 1100 Social Entrepreneurs in 45 countries. In our way, we have engaged Global Corporates, Universities and even the French President, on an Initiative he launched called “La France S’engage”. From our experience, we have identified key ideas for governments to invent, test and scale social innovations in a really pragmatic way, with Entrepreneurs. We share it with you!
La France S’engage paves the way
La France S’engage is an initiative launched by the French President to identify and promote the most promising social innovations in the country. Through a continuous call for projects, the aim is to strengthen the whole social innovation ecosystem of the country and scale the most impactful solutions. The laureates are supported both financially and strategically:
- a €50 million fund have been created to finance the growth of the selected project;
- Each project is supported and given access to key public institutions in their sector, in order to scale faster along with other relevant actors and inspire public policies.
Every 6 months, 15 projects are selected. What do they have in common? They all have a strong impact on a social or environmental issue ; they all developed a real innovation (a solution that has never been developed in the country); they all have the ability to scale up and to measure precisely their impact.
What are the best practices to be inspired of?
Here are the best practices we have identified thanks to our partnerships with La France S’engage and our experience with diverse stakeholders as MakeSense and that can be implemented by any government:
- Create a fund (you don’t need a massive one !). Indeed, scaling up requires resources: funding the most promising social entrepreneurs is key to leverage rapidly on their innovation and potential.
- Impulse a continuous dynamic that will level up the whole ecosystem Social Innovation in the country over the years. For instance, a continuous call for projects creates a positive dynamic, where projects can apply several times and improve their model from one call to another. More than supporting 15 projects every 6 months, this will demultiply the impact of the Fund and you make sure your country keeps on inventing the best solutions delivering impact and tending to be self-sustainable.
- Engage citizens for them to take their responsibility and support the development of these projects. Don’t underestimate the creativity of your citizens to invent relevant solutions to improve Social Business projects! By engaging them in the field, both through an online platform and in-real-life workshops, you will increase their awareness of the social and environmental issues of their communities. You will enable them to discover concrete solutions where they can act. You will revitalize citizen engagement, from a vote every 5 years to a monthly commitment! Above all, you will create inspirations for all the youth to become Social Entrepreneurs and make a change. What a virtuous circle!
- Adapt the support, both financial and strategic, to the Social Businesses’ needs. To answer to the global issues we are facing, we need to finance projects that creates a real lever effect and impact with their solution. What can we do if a Coding School asks for 300K euros to train 300 kids and 300K to train the 300 others? Let’s innovate, let’s finance a digital platform and tutorials to go from 300 kids trained to 300 000!
- Take this opportunity to modernize your public administration thanks to collective action. Indeed, even while scaling up, these projects won’t change the world alone: they need to collaborate with all the different relevant stakeholders on the issues, from public administration to private actors. These stakeholders need to gather in active communities enabling them them to prototype concretely their collective solution!
Please let us give you an example: we’re right now experimenting such a program in France to tackle food waste at scale. To achieve so, we gathered a Social Entrepreneur fighting food waste in supermarkets, the Public Administration managing the biggest canteens in the country (the french CROUS — 300 000 meals per day!) and students volunteers. With the space to experiment, volunteers and the social entrepreneur designed a new solution to reduce food waste in students restaurants, helped by design thinking methods. The Public CROUS liked the idea: the volunteers and the entrepreneur, helped by MakeSense Team, are now starting a pilot phase in 3 university restaurants. If it works, we can mobilize volunteers and change management experts to scale the solution at country level by implementing the same change management tools & services we’re already doing with big corporates. It’s a great way of Scaling the social entrepreneur project and at the same time modernize the public administration.
What if we could apply the same method and process for the 15 Social Entrepreneurs selected every 6 months by the fund and the president? Their social innovations could contribute to modernize smoothly employment agencies, lower the % of school dropouts, find better ways to create economic opportunities for refugees. Public administrations have new allies : Social Entrepreneurs and Citizens. Here’s a video (in French) explaining about the food waste example.
Let’s make it happen together!
What incredible ideas, will you say! But how can we make it happen? Since the launch of La France S’engage in June 2014, MakeSense has partnered with the French ministry to operate the call for projects and to create a national movement to support social innovations. Here is the way we act!
- We source hundreds of social innovators everywhere in France, promote the initiative and encourage them to apply. Every 3 months, we go on the french roads France, we mobilize our communities, local partners and project holders. Whether ready or still early-stage, they are all mobilized for today’s call or for tomorrow!
- We mobilize citizens to help the projects candidates and the potential candidates to solve their challenges and improve their project, especially on their innovation and scaling up potential. Our volunteers in civic service are active in main cities in France to boost these continuous momentum.
- Above all, we create a real “La France S’Engage” community that gathers all the stakeholders of the initiative and sets up a positive environment to encourage new types of cooperation and build game changing policy.
Why MakeSense? MakeSense relies on its strong worldwide community and its strong partners’ network, to engage citizens, create a movement and generate enthusiasm. MakeSense brings its challenge-solving methodology, expertise on innovation and its web platform to spread it at a national level.
In the future here is how we will go FORWARD and support concretely the scaling-up of these social innovations led by Entrepreneurs along with public administrations (like on the food waste example)! This is the best way to use our design thinking training expertise (discover it here) and the strong change management expertise (discover it there) we’ve developed by working with large organizations such as DANONE, SAP or P&G.
To extend this successful dynamic and rollout these expertises to create impact with government in 10 regions around the globe, we want to develop our regional teams. The Google Impact challenge is an incredible opportunity to do so. Thanks to your support, we will be able to win the 500 000€ grant and develop MakeSense in those 10 regions as explained in our development plan: forward.makesense.org.
If you would like to discuss more about those ideas, we would like to invite you to come to Washington D.C where we’re hosting our next unconference about Social Business at the end of October. Especially for you Mister Obama it could be easy to attend if you would like as it’s just a few blocks away from the White house.
Coralie, Alizée, Mike and Christian
from the MakeSense team