A unique initiative between TEDxMuscat and Innovation Factory, to enhance various aspects of society through innovation and progressive strides, is currently in the making. A group of youngsters have come together to forge a new pathway that will help in bettering the plight of upcoming generations in Oman by what they call ‘social innovation’. Abeer al Mukhaini, the founder host of TEDxMuscatWomen and Shaima al Gheilani – co-founder of Innovation Factory,who have been spearheading this new initiative named Carbon, throw light on its aim and scope.
What exactly is social innovation?
Before we go in the term social innovation, I would like to highlight the concept behind the initiative and why social innovation.In the Carbon exploration programme, we, as a team, are driven by investing in individuals, impacting a developing community and creating a resultant prosperous economy.
We aim at creating common social values and value-driven business ideas that result in a coherent social innovation ecosystem. Our initiative and parallel activities are designed to tackle different segments in society to pilot customised programmes that trigger a social innovator mindset across Oman.
As for what is ‘social innovation’, it is the process of developing and deploying effective solutions to challenging, often systemic, social, and environmental issues in support of social progress. The concept of social innovation sheds light on ideas and solutions that create social values, as well as the processes through which they are generated, regardless of where they come from.
Social innovators or ‘superheroes’, as we call them in our programme, question the premise on which existing social structures are built and then re-imagine systems and institutional relationships to bring about change.
What ideas have come forth so far?
The first cycle of the carbon exploration programme, that started in mid-November, targeted four sectors – Housing, Food, Agriculture and Clothing. We managed to shortlist ten social innovative ideas through these sectors presented by different nationals.
Have any ideas been implemented yet?
The Carbon exploration programme has been divided into two phases. The first phase mission is to create and find social innovation opportunities by introducing essential topics that will assist social innovators in creating a tangible and quantifiable impact to improve the community. This can be done by supporting the development and transfer of practical solutions, that is by introducing certain crash courses to validate and analyse their ideas, in addition to coaching and mentoring participants. In the second phase, the Carbon team will work hand-in-hand with the final two short-listed ideas to implement them, develop a prototype, and, hopefully, connect them to potential investors.
What hurdles and challenges do you expect?
Carbon is introducing a different method of analysing potentials in social business which requires rearranging priorities by looking at the impact that will be created and not the profit that will be gained. It puts the community at the core of the business and not the global market as a priority. The biggest challenge is to create a new mindset in looking into new norms in making impactful businesses, and coming forth with ideas that actually tackle a cause in the community.
Although we have participants from different regions, we as a team have managed to accommodate our programme to fit the physical and virtual needs by making our programme courses available and recorded online for all participants. Thankfully, we are almost midway through and have managed to deliver the programme courses efficiently.
How would these initiatives help in changing/ improving social life and outlooks?
Carbon opens a more collaborative and inclusive way to find solutions that meet people’s real needs, a creative process with the aim to deliver new solutions to a challenge. These solutions (products, services, models, markets, processes, etc.) will simultaneously meet a social need (more effectively than existing solutions) and lead to new or improved capabilities and relationships and better use of assets and resources.
Carbon, is a short exploration programme that will introduce the principle, the idea validation, and social business model, assisting social entrepreneurs in sustaining their businesses by emphasising the purpose and social values, and facilitating in creating a social innovation based social business structure and network.
We believe, in Carbon, that the importance of the individual responsibility awareness towards the community and any action resulted can affect the community as whole.
Who is the core team and what are their roles?
Carbon is a collaborative initiative empowered by TedxMuscat and Innovation factory that is funded by the Netherlands embassy of Oman. Along the way, we have got support from Framzeen – our creative consultant partner – and Mubashir as our lead digital media partner.
Carbon is driven by a dynamic team that works day and night. It includes Abeer al Mukhaini – the Host of TedxMuscatWomen, Firas al Musafir, CEO and founder of Innovation Factory, Shaima al Gheilani – co-founder of Innovation Factory, Marwa al Harthi – Carbon marketing specialist, and Fatma al Mukhaini – Carbon project coordinator, and last but not the least, our participants through which our programme is all about.
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