Ahmed Alassafi a 2019 Conference Committee member recaps our 2019 Social Innovation Conference, our Secondary School Social Enterprise Case Competition which was held on 11 May 2019.
On the 11th of May 2019, we held the annual Social Innovation Conference. The conference was a one-day event bringing together people from all spaces to spark a discussion on how we can best confront today’s most pressing challenges in creative and innovative ways. Our aim was to allow attendees to meet and be inspired by like-minded individuals, build valuable connections, and learn a few skills along the way.
An excited crowd gathered as early as 8:30, and lounged to some refreshments provided by Scarborough Fair. At 9:15, all the conference participants moved into a large theatre to hear an incredibly stimulating Keynote speech delivered by Shay Wright, co-founder of Te Whare Hukahuka, board member on the Māori Economic Development Advisory Board, and also named in the Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs. He pitched a very captivating argument for this generation’s importance in the upcoming struggles the world faces, namely climate change. Attendees were left with a clear-cut process whereby they felt empowered to implement change on an individual level and fulfil their great potential.
With Shay’s inspiring message lingering on our minds, we all moved to collectively participate in a Mock Social Enterprise Hackathon. With so many keen participants, we had to split up the session into three rooms. We wanted to give our attendees the skills necessary to take action, and to improve their understanding of social issues. This interactive experience brought people together, and allowed them to share ideas to a large audience and get valuable feedback from our judges.
Next up, we moved back into the Foyer for a delicious and nutritious morning tea set up with food generously provided by The Cookie Project, Ooooby, The Collective, Ecoware and Almighty. After the food and chit-chat spiked attendees’ energy levels, we began to gather them for our midday sessions on: Technology, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Social Change, and Consulting. We had a pretty even split for these 4 sessions, two of them panels and the other two workshops.
In one room we held a panel titled “The Technology Revolution” where we sought to discuss how innovative technology can be used to tackle social and environmental challenges and transform our society. What could the future look like? What areas do we need to be careful in, given how fast technology has been progressing? These questions were posed, and attendees left with tangible steps of what they could do with technology.
Another group saw the “SDGs in the Private Sector” panel, where we looked at organisations in the private sector and their compliance with SDGs. Speakers discussed how SDGs have changed the way their organisation works, how they measure impact, and then inspired young students and professionals on their own fulfilment of SDGs on an individual level. After an impactful discourse and Q&A, attendees could analyse organisations and their SDG strategies with a critical lens.
One of our workshops, “#SocialChange”, was designed for participants to know how to effectively create social media stories to help make the world a better place - in other words, success through social media activism. Participants left with a flurry of practical social media skills. The other workshop, “Consulting for Innovation”, gave students insight into what a consultant may do in their daily life and shared the thought processes on how one particular consultant may decide to tackle a social enterprise business problem.
After an engaging hour of inspiring content, our hungry attendees were greeted by a plethora of delicious lunches graciously provided by Green Time. Whilst people ate up and networked, stalls were set up around the foyer for socially innovative organisations to showcase their own brilliant and innovative products and services. With everyone’s energy replenished, it was time for our afternoon sessions: two panels, a roundtable, and a workshop.
Our first afternoon panel, “Democracy in Crisis”, posed questions to a diverse group of MPs regarding whether there is enough civic engagement in New Zealand and if not, solutions that can be used to address it. This extended to whether peoples’ civic actions were the right type of engagement which would foster positive progress in New Zealand. Attendees were left with a better understanding of the issues after a series of contentious discussions between different sides of the political spectrum.
Meanwhile, our “Future of Food” panel sought to tackle the issue of food supply chains. In an ever growing world, it is important for us to look into the current state of our supply chains and assess whether they are sustainable. Speakers discussed, and later too with the audience, potential solutions including supermarket practices, veganism, and the conduct of agricultural industries - as well as the implementation of these solutions. The passionate back-and-forth between speakers and the audience showed just how essential this conversation is.
Simultaneously, our roundtable and workshop took a more hands-on approach. Our “Day in the life of a Social Innovator” roundtable paired a few social innovators with a bunch of attendees, and stories were shared on how innovators came to be, what sparked their ideas, challenging aspects of their journeys and advice to people facing similar challenges. No doubt, attendees left with a clearer appreciation of social enterprise after asking personal questions about their own journeys. Our workshop, “Tackling Income Inequality”, focused on income inequality and tied it into other inequality issues such as gender, technology, education, and many more. Problems were presented, solved, and ideas shared as a group to better understand the complex issues.
With these afternoon sessions complete, everyone gathered back in OGGB4 for Pitching and Discussion, our final session. Our brilliant facilitator kicked things off by summoning anyone in the audience who had an idea, whether it were developed or not, to come up and pitch it to a large audience for no more than a minute. We then sent these pitchers around the room to receive feedback and discuss further with the audience. Many attendees left inspired with ideas of their own, new connections, and an expanded knowledge of what’s out there.
We concluded the event with an audience-wide quiz in the same room, with prizes from the Fair Trade Club, Earth Monkeys, Rayna, Kokako, Trade Aid and CaliWoods. Finally the big day was over! Our Co-Presidents, as well as the Conference Co-Directors closed off with some kind words and gifts. Following the conference, the SINZ team and many attendees went out for a relaxing dinner at Aroy Thai.
Thank you all for coming - we hope you enjoyed the conference, and we look forward to seeing you at the many more events we’ll be hosting this year.