I love this question because it’s so visual — you’re leaning forward in your seat, eyes shining, completely animated in what you’re talking about, the rest of the world forgotten. What topics could keep you up until daybreak, not even thinking to check the clock?
For Vicy, it’s food security. The complexity of the whole food system fascinates and frustrates her: how could food be produced better, distributed better, consumed better?
Vicy thinks and talks constantly about the subject, is working towards her Masters in a relevant field, and plans to focus her career towards unraveling these complex questions. But what’s even more interesting about Vicy is that she’s about to launch a mobilization cause to get hundreds of people involved in looking for solutions to these questions, right now.
How? Vicy is part of a community called MakeSense, a movement of people around the world who take action to support social entrepreneurs. MakeSense is likely best known for an event called a Hold-Up, an open brainstorming session organized to think up solutions to a concrete challenge that a social entrepreneur posted on the MakeSense website. The organization also puts on evenings that mix live music and panel discussions with social entrepreneurs, workshops to imagine new social enterprises, conferences, and more. What’s incredible about MakeSense is that the majority of these events are organized by volunteers who have involved almost 25,000 people in the past five years.
MakeSense currently has three main “Tracks” that people can choose to be involved with — Waste and Climate, Refugees, and Digital Education. In cities with active MakeSense communities, people meet often to discuss and plan city-wide events on a range of topics, but may also choose to spend more time in smaller tribes focused on one of these specific topics.
This past fall, for example, the MakeSense “Hotspot,” or chapter, in Hong Kong got together over drinks and discussed waste in the city. They decided to organize what they called the “Waste and Social Entrepreneurship SenseAfternoon,” a day full of workshops, conversations, and plans for action. On November 14, about 50 people came to a maker’s space called MakerBay to hear from inspirational speakers, pitch new ideas, and brainstorm ideas with local waste entrepreneurs. Events can be smaller too, such as a drinks night the Phnom Penh Hotspot organized focused on education, and still have a great impact. After meeting other people with shared interests during this evening, the current MakeSense Phnom Penh volunteers went on to organize their first-ever Hold-Up yesterday! The power of the MakeSense community is that not only did this event get a diverse group of interested people together, in person, to help grow a local digital education startup, but people from around the world interested in digital education spread word of the event and startup through their networks. The Hotspot in Manila organized an event themed around “Food & The City: the urban revolution of sustainable food” This event brought together a fascinating group of social entrepreneurs and the Ukulele Philippines Ensemble to a top coworking space in Manila, a conversation so interesting that it got written up in the media!
After a couple years as a MakeSense volunteer and working in social entrepreneurship, I’ve just joined MakeSense’s fulltime team to help support and grow communities throughout Asia. I joined because being able to have conversations like this every day, helping people take action and feel alive, learning about and supporting inspiring projects, and taking real action on causes I feel passionately about — these are things that make my eyes shine.
MakeSense “Hotspots” have seen exciting events the past couple years but I think there’s way more we can do.
We could imagine opening a 3-year university program like the SenseCampus in Dakar that launched yesterday, or a social business incubator that launched in Brussels on Tuesday. We can join and propose causes we care about and bring in diverse groups to take action. Education in Phnom Penh, traffic or greener cities in Manila? The sky’s the limit! If you are living in Asia, interested in social entrepreneurship, and want to do something about it with the support of thousands of people around the world, you can ☺ Send me an email at email@example.com and see let’s see what we can create together.
So, what makes your eyes shine? And what are you going to do about it?
Rachel is helping the MakeSense community to grow in South East Asia. She is working with the different Hotspots to get citizens involved in solving social startups’ challenges.