Social inclusion has the power to transform our societies. Find out more about how Social Entrepreneurs promote social inclusion in this article by our guest blogger Chinelo Ifeji.
In a world where disparity between rich and poor is increasing and poverty is strongly linked to social exclusion, social inclusion has become a hot topic for policy-makers, corporations and the public alike. So, what is all this buzz around social inclusion?
Firstly, let’s explain its definition: the World Bank defines social inclusion as “the process of improving the terms for individuals and groups to take part in society, and the process of improving the ability, opportunity and dignity of those disadvantaged on the basis of their identity to take part in society”. It includes multiple elements of a society such as politics, gender diversity, culture, ethnical groups, religion etc.
Contrary to popular belief, an inclusive society is not solely a moral and ethical idea, but it makes economic sense: social inclusion is key to the competitiveness of a country and acceleration of its productivity, hence contributing to the boost of its GDP.
This brings to the importance to sustain the UN Sustainable Development Goals, objectives aimed to mobilize all countries universally to create infrastructure, frameworks and schemes to tackle different lacunae their local society is facing with, including the certification of prosperity for all – without leaving anyone behind.
And who is best suited to bring this forward? Social entrepreneurs. They are the best vehicle to drive this new transformation, thanks to their entrepreneurial mentality to challenge the status quo, create innovative solutions while positively impacting the society. Social entrepreneurs, increasingly led by millennials, are global changers, valuing profit and purpose as equals.
Our SEIF social entrepreneurs are a great example of this; while speaking to some of the winners of the SEIF Awards 2017, it transpired a common trait: they are all following a quest to provide a voice to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, by empowering their selected communities to be independent, enhance if not transform positively their way of living and increase their access to education, job opportunities and financial freedom. Even more – and that is what makes social entrepreneurs stand apart from other social contributors such as charities – they have found ways to do so in an economically sustainable way, demonstrating the value of social inclusion along the way.
Some exceptional examples within our award-winning entrepreneurs include BLITAB, a revolutionary technology allowing blind people to read and write via the simple use of an iPad. Mirrorable by FightTheStroke, is approaching the aftermath of a stroke in a child in a creative and innovative way, by developing a rehabilitation platform which combines the usage of AI and videos. The aim is to stimulate and recover mobility, in a fun and interactive way for the child. Lastly but not least, myAbility is at the vanguard in the European German speaking countries, demonstrating how a disability or an impairment is not a stigma nor a limitation, but rather an opportunity for companies, to create a more diverse, accessible and inclusive society. Their social mission is to “help companies to realize the potential of people with disabilities as clients and employees”, by supporting organisations to become disability confident. All these important causes are fighting to bring dignity, raise opportunities for these groups and contribute in shaping a new social culture.
However, this is not without challenges. As Francesca Fedeli, President of FightTheStroke writes, “people with disabilities are up to 5 times more likely than average to incur catastrophic health expenditures despite social protection measures (SDG 10 – Reduce inequalities by 2030)”. FightTheStroke is committed to create “the largest inclusive behavioural and systemic change happen”. However, to accelerate impact, collaboration and partnerships with corporation and public institutions are fundamental in “mitigating people disability and avoiding social exclusion”.
On the same note, also Wolfgang Kowatsch, Managing Partner of myAbility, explains how it is vital and mostly efficient to persuade big corporations to get on board and act together on such causes to further speed up change. This shows how cooperation among small and big entities are fundamental to promote social transformation.
It is clear, the world is changing, problems related to social exclusion are getting noticed and awareness among the public is increasing. However, eradication of social exclusion is a topic that requires involvement of private and public sector, increased initiatives supporting SMEs and social entrepreneurs, combined with full involvement of the public. This in turn, would enhance social participation of disadvantaged groups, while also creating financial opportunities to social entrepreneurs.
Chinelo Ifeji is passionate about social entrepreneurship and new technologies helping vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, coupled with great interest on fintech startups creating new services, impacting positively these groups. More info in here. Chinelo works as well for UBS in Wealth Management as Product Specialist.