By Praveen Kumar Sundararaju, India and Hannah Lee United States of America/South Korea, Global MBA 2015-2016
We had the opportunity to attend the Social Innovation and Global Ethics forum (SIGEF) held between October 23rd and 25th in Geneva. The conference was organized by Horyou, an action-oriented social network for Social Good. Specifically, Horyou is a platform on which NGOs and organizations focused on social work can converge to discuss topics such as global hunger and empowering the youth. There was a variety of NGOs and social projects in the conference to showcase their work. One that stood out to me was a Korean Brazilian named DJ Joo. He shared his personal story of breaking rather rigid, cultural expectations of his parents and pursuing his passion. As a result, he came up with the idea to provide access to musical instruments for inner-city children and his company was born. His story was powerful.
Renowned speakers and representatives of various firms from all over the world came to the conference for the keynote speech and panel discussion. The topics discussed were sustainability in developing and underdeveloped countries, social entrepreneurship, agriculture, climate change (COP21) and youth and women empowerment.
Many of the projects were quite interesting. One was Green Bronx Machine in which school children learn to grow plants and understand more about nature at school. By providing hands-on experience, the teacher (and owner of Green Bronx Machine) empowered the students to take action. We were then able to apply what we learned from the speeches, as well as enriching discussions during networking sessions, to the various projects we are working on in class. For example, we are partaking in an initiative by the U.S. government to combat extremism and help prevent radicalization by ISIS. My group and I have decided to target the youth, from ages 15-21, and one takeaway that I was able to apply to this challenge was that young adults have very short attention span. By learning this, we were able to tailor our project so that our messages were relevant and was short enough to engage our target audience.
The ‘Scaling the Conversation’ by Jon Mark was was interesting as well. He spoke about a digital strategy, in which he emphasized 3 aspects that are important for scaling: diffusion, organization, and interaction. In order to scale, one must diffuse information. However, it must be done in an organized and clear manner. Finally, interaction is crucial for sustainability. Again, this learning could be then applied to our project, since the challenge was a digital initiative.
We also had the opportunity to interact with experts from different industry and understand more about the ground situation and challenges they are facing. The most interesting aspect were the strategies they implemented to target their respective target audiences. For example, one organization used Hip Hop as a means of communicating effectively.