Social Entrepreneurship (socent) is widely described as the use of business models to effect social change in a sustainable way. It is a buzzword around many international development organizations and practitioners who emphasize, “community led growth”. I was chosen to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University conference in 2012. It is a summit that brings together college students from all corners of the world who are passionate about solving some of the world’s most pressing issues in areas such as Education, Healthcare, Women Empowerment, Technology, Poverty and Agriculture. Most of the people I met there self-identified as aspiring social entrepreneurs. After the conference, I established my venture Los Pacho Initiative in Kenya. I was able to win the 2013 social venture challenge at Columbia University’s SIPA and secure start up funds as well as fellowship from Resolution Project. It is this involvement with socent that sparked my interest to investigate the innovative ways that Spanish society was employing to deal with its post crisis high unemployment rates.
With the economic crisis, unemployment consequentially became the greatest concern within the Spanish society. It reached a high of about 27%. After finding out that centers focusing on different types of social challenges such as homelessness, unemployment and poverty alleviation had been springing up in the country, my research question became an investigation of the socially innovative ways devised to counteract high unemployment rates, how effectively they solved the challenge and how sustainable the programs were.
Through the Weaver/Nicolais Family International Travel Endowment Fund, I was able to stay in Spain after the semester and travel to Málaga and Barcelona to interview a variety of small and large social ventures focused on addressing unemployment. I encountered a big movement of young social entrepreneurs in Barcelona. The ESADE Institute for Social Innovation here focused its efforts on research, outreach and training for social innovation. Also, most organizations had a huge presence on social media and as such I was able to reach out to these groups and meet with them, conduct interviews and share ideas.
I am thankful to the Weaver/Nicolais Family International Travel Endowment Fund for enabling me to pursue this project that is very dear to me, putting me at the very center of social innovation in Barcelona and also enabling me learn so much more about real life application of social solutions.