The Wellesley Institute is pleased to join with innovators from around the world at the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, an annual invitation-only event at Oxford University in England. Even before the official launch of Skoll, a group of Canadians joined together for dinner to share news and views about the current state of social innovation across our country. The event was organized thanks to the leadership of SIG@MaRS. This morning the group met for five hours to hear presentations and debate.
The conversation began with the question “social innovation for what?” The point was made that social innovation is a means towards an end and not an end in itself; the end goal is a better society or in our case better population health and reduced disparities. The other debate was around infrastructure and capacity both of which are lacking if we are to create a more entrepreneurial culture and social sector in the broadest sense.
One of the speakers raised the work of the Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, who looked at human freedom within the context of deprivation linking it to how people develop alternative futures for themselves. We spoke about the fact that shifting societal change can be generational but that we also needed interventions that change that bring about attitude and action now; the phrase was “ a hand in the soil, a hand in the stars”.