A couple of weeks ago I spent the weekend at the Impact Youth Social Enterprise Conference and had great fun doing a pitch, sitting on a panel and mentoring some conference attendees.
Impact was started by a group of young students interested in social impact and who had connected with the Qld Social Enterprise Council (QSEC) at a drinks event we hosted. This was a fine example of how networking events can create the right environment for collaborations; as a result of the connection, QSEC agreed to auspicing Impact’s first conference in Brisbane. A few months later and a lot of hard work by the organisers, saw an astonishingly successful event held at the Edge, a co-working design hub at the State Library of Queensland. Check out the photo set here.
One of my duties was to present a pitch, there were 5 pitches throughout the weekend ranging from Techie start-ups to traditional social enterprises. I used the five minutes I had allotted to pitch SEED and QSEC (separately) using the School for Social Entrepreneurs 4 stage pitching model which I really like: describe the ISSUE; UNPACK the issue; PROPOSE how you will address the issue; say what you will ACHIEVE. It’s simple and effective, and you can throw in the ASK at the propose / achieve stage or even by adding the ask as a fifth stage.
The weekend highlighted for me where social enterprise is headed in Australia; young people doing start-ups with a social heart. When I was on stage I asked the crowd what they were studying, and the breakdown surprised me. Out of 120 young people in attendance it was roughly 20 from high school, leaving 100 from University or recent graduates. Out of that 100, 80% were from Business School, 10% Engineering, a smattering of Computer people, and some random linguists and a lone speech pathologist! What surprises me about this is that if you held a conference for people over 30’s I would imagine there would be 80% people from a social welfare background, and there were none, not one in the youth conference.
Another point to note on this demographic is that 5 or certainly 10 years ago a conference like this would not have been held in Brisbane. There would have been no appetite for it. So, I wonder, why now? I suspect it is a result of the Global Financial Crisis, and the narrative that Capitalism doesn’t have the answer to inequality, poverty and peace in the world. I think that the Occupy Movement inspired many young people a few years ago to question why the 1% have so much money and the 99% have very little in comparison. Further I think the environmental movement with its emphasis on minimising consumptive waste, respect for the earth, and a different approach to business has helped young people see they can be part of the solution.
To wrap up, the last question posed to me as I sat on the panel of ‘experts’ was “what advice would you give to the people here”.
I said that we had been sold the line that competition is a necessity, that you have to be strong to survive. As social entrepreneurs looking for new, friendlier, kinder, more compassionate ways to do business we should look at Darwin, who in The Descent of Man, mentioned survival of the fittest only twice but spoke of love 95 times, he wrote about conciliation and cooperation; as was said in the documentary I Am “the basis of nature is cooperation and democracy, it’s in our DNA”.
Seconds later this was tweeted 🙂