This past weekend (25-26 February, 2012), four members of The Value Web supported the Harvard Social Enterprise Conference (#SECON12), one of the world’s leading forums to engage in dialogue, debate, and expression around social enterprise. Over time, the Conference has become an arena to explore innovative ideas that challenge the status quo and inspire a call to action. The Conference is entirely student-run, jointly hosted by students from the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. The objectives of the conference are:
- To showcase innovative ideas, trends, and people within social enterprise to encourage better solutions to the world’s most pressing social problems;
- To expand participants’ understanding of various disciplines and models within social enterprise, with an emphasis on sharing knowledge and increasing collaboration among conference participants; and
- To provide a forum for practitioners to receive feedback so that they continually evolve their models to solving global social problems.
While our session was a wonderful opportunity to connect with the participants at the conference, we also were able to connect with individuals through the visuals we produced. Kelvy captured the keynotes with grace and insight, and Alicia spent the two days preparing an incredible 15 foot knowledge wall, using material harvested from twitter feeds (with the support of the Harvard students responsible for social media), and from panel managers (also students) who emailed salient points from their sessions. The graphics were, as always, a powerful way to engage people in the content in a different manner and to spark further conversation. These visuals provide a powerful record of an incredibly full two days. For larger images, click on the images below to see them on our Flickr site.
Opening Plenary with Kavita Shukla (Fenugreen), Taylor Conroy (Destroy Normal Consulting) and Lauren Bush Lauren (FEED Projects). Moderated by Daniel Epstein (Unreasonable Institute)
Panel Discussion with Bill Drayton (Ashoka) and Vanessa Kirsch (New Profit, Inc), moderated by Matthew Bishop (The Economist)
Keynote: Dr. Judith Rodin (Rockefeller Foundation)
Keynote: David Blood (Generation Investment Management)
Knowledge Wall (Click for larger image)
After having had a few days to digest all that took place during the conference, I am once again energized and enthused at the amount of activity taking place in the social enterprise space. The strength of this movement, if it can be called a movement, is clearly in the passion and energy those involved have for redesigning the way we do business, the way we affect change/achieve impact and the way we bridge the gap between the once-highly-siloed-and-now-increasingly-overlapping sectors. There is certainly no lack of innovative ideas and business models, and while the concept of social enterprise is continuing to spread like wildfire, there remain many challenges on the road ahead. The biggest challenge I can see lies in effectively connecting the individuals and organizations who are driving change to help them share and scale best practices, and to help affect public policy so as to create an environment that nurtures and fosters social enterprise. The Harvard Social Enterprise Conference is one of many events around the world that are trying to make headway here, and we’re very proud to be helping move the needle forward as best we can.
For images from the conference you can visit our Flickr set here, or search for #secon12 on twitter, facebook and Flickr. There has been no shortage of coverage for this event!