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10 trends Social Entrepreneurs need to know about!

Who am I? My name is Markus Engelberger and I am the Country Coordinator of SIA Austria. I also run my own business as a Graphic Recorder and Visual Facilitator. […]

Who am I? My name is Markus Engelberger and I am the Country Coordinator of SIA Austria.

I also run my own business as a Graphic Recorder and Visual Facilitator.

As a Graphic Recorder I basically listen to what people talk about at events and I capture the essence of it in real time through pictures and words.

I recently worked at the European Forum Alpbach, an event where Europes “Elite” comes together. There I represented Social Impact Award, but also wore the hat of a Graphic Recorder.

This is how it looks like, when I work:

In this blogpost I am gonna share some insights I found quite interesting and of which I think that they can be very relevant for what you do!

You might wonder: “What or where the hack is Alpbach!?”

Don´t worry – For Non-Austrians, and even the majority of Austrians, it is unknown or at least mysterious, what actually happens at Alpbach, this tiny, picturesque village in the mountains of Tyrol.

Since this is important for all that follows, let me try to explain…

The European Forum Alpbach

Once a year, for three weeks in a row, the European elite in business, politics and technology comes together. A happening of the finest kind.

What is today considered the “Spring-Break of Austria´s future leaders”, has a serious background.

Shortly after World War 2 leading thinkers and influencers of their times met in this village and agreed that such a terrible war must never ever happen again.

In order to realize that, they came up with the idea of bringing together the young elite of Europe once a year from now on until forever.

And that is the spirit that is deeply routed in Alpbach. That is also the reason why highly renowned domestic and international politicians, business-leaders, scientists and philantropists make their way to Alpbach every year.

They cherish the tradition and contribute to a peaceful and better tomorrow.

And well, where young people come together of course the one or the other party happens also.

But let´s concentrate on the 10 most important learnings I personally took from Alpbach, listening with the ears of a Social Entrepreneur.

The good message to start off:

“We don´t have to re-invent things. They are already there!” (Franz Fischler – President of the European Forum Alpbach)

What he meant, is that a lot of solutions, networks, laws and so on already exist. The only problem is that people never knew about them or have forgotten.

So let´s challenge your local politicians – let them know you are interested and want to be informed!

“We are not here to change the system or to invade your country – We are here to add value to your country and build a better life.” (Conclusion of a group of different people that had to leave their countries for safety reasons.)

I know, many of you will say they already knew that. But even for me, a person who is constantly working together with Ventures supporting Refugees, it was an “Aha-Moment” and a kick-ass argument against all who claim Refugees are “invaders”.

“Digitalization, Climate-Change, Migration” (Summary of a plenary session on today´s most pressing challenges).

When some of the most powerful political leaders in the world come together, these are the most pressing topics they agree upon. Maybe that´s a little hint for all of you, who wonder in which field to get active and solve problems in an entrepreneurial way. I am pretty sure these guys also have the money, if you come up with disruptive and scalable solutions.

“Why did people not do more against climate change?”, “How could people have ignored the effects of automation on their work lives?”, “How could they have believed in ever growing economies?” system (Philipp Blom – Author, Lecturer & Broadcaster)

Three interesting questions a future young historian doing research about the days we live in might ask herself. I think there is nothing to add and I leave it open to you to explore this thought experiment.

“How do we communicate evidence to citizens?”

A simple and “easy – to – get” communication is also a topic, that keeps a well-aged generation of politicians awake at night.

The same is true for:

“How do we engage citizens into transformative processes?”

What politicians lack at the moment, is the ability to come up with solutions that create and support transformation. They are willing to include people into open Innovation processes but at the moment simply seem not to be capable to pull this off.

“Most ideas deserve to die!” “99 out of 100 ideas are not very smart or well based. But the 1 good idea deserves the fight of your life!” (Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director, The Earth Institute, Columbia University, New York)

“Most ideas deserve to die!” This is a harsh quote by a man who has fought for the good cause all of his life. But especially that fact makes his thought so interesting.

At the end of the day Mr. Sachs, one of the world´s leading experts in economic development and fighting poverty, is really interested in Start-Ups and Social Entrepreneurship in generel. But what he is missing in most of the projects he gets to know, is some more depth.

That means:

Do your homework fellas! Dig into research, talk to experts in the field, who for instance have been tackeling the issue of climate change for the past 30 years already, collect data, set your impact metrics and then fucking measure them.

We all know that this is not the fun part for most of the people.

But you´ll need the data to convince powerful gate-keepers like Mr. Sachs.

“We need to de-carbonize our system dramatically by mid-century” (Agreement in a panel discussion)

The frightening fact that our system already collapses in 15-20 years, if we as humanity continue doing, what we are doing at the moment, was starting point of a very diverse discussion between scientists and politicians.

“Vancouver wants to be the greenest city in the world by 2020.” (Gregor Robertson, mayor of Vancouver)

While many seem helpless or try to improve things by buying CO2 certificates (which is more about making statistics looking nicer in many cases and not about actually reducing CO2), Vancouver makes nails with heads. Vancouvers mayor, Gregor Robertson, also stated, they as a city have a clear and simple 3 step – plan how to further reduce CO2: “1.: Walking 2.: Riding the bike 3.: Green public transport instead of individual cars”

An interesting point of view from an Austrian´s perspective was, that Vancouver is looking to what  Vienna does in order to get inspiration and steal good ideas from them.

At the end of the panel discussion Jeffrey D. Sachs concluded that Europe is actually the leading region when it comes to sustainability and solutions that help us create a better future.

The only thing lacking in Europe is an agreed upon concept or plan.

He ended his speech with “Let´s make a plan!” And that I also see as a strong invitation for our community of super talented and motivated Social Entrepreneurs.

Get out of your god-damn boxes and connect to each other! Try to create synergies and learn from each other! Support each other and stand together! Then we have the chance to realize impact that truly matters!

By the way: The best opportunity to do so is the SIA Summit in Belgrade this year!

I wish you all the best, hope you found some inspiration in this Blog Post and come back to me if you have any new ideas or further questions.