The 2010 Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship hosted its sixth conference April 14 – 16 in Oxford, England.
Dubbed the “Davos for social entrepreneurs,” it attracts innovation leaders running the gamut from fledgling entrepreneurs to seasoned legends. The field’s most prominent leaders—for example, Diana Wells, President of Ashoka—were invited to host panels such as “Structuring Collaboration: Mergers, Partnerships and New Business Models,” “How to Build a Fierce, Wild, Unstoppable Movement and Community” and “Aid Agencies and Social Entrepreneurs: Natural Allies, New Bridges.”
It culminates in an awards ceremony celebrating the seven Skoll Award winners and the transformative power of social enterprise. Prior to the forum’s kickoff, Nathaniel Whittemore predicted that the following would be the 2010 Forum’s hot topics:
- Collaboration: i.e., developing a paradigm, rather than extolling the relative merits of collaboration and competition
- The network effect: leveraging social media; using the #swf10 hashtag for tweets pertaining to the Skoll World Forum
- Pro-poor entrepreneurship: economic empowerment for the destitute and disenfranchised
Whittemore reports back on the second day with updates on this year’s focus—collaboration—hardly surprising considering this year’s theme was “Catalyzing Collaboration for Large Scale Change.” Specifically, however, Jeff Skoll and Paul Farmer both urged social entrepreneurs young and old to collaborate BIG and target big institutions with intergalactic clout—e.g., governments, multinational corporations and international organizations.
Whittemore applauded this expanded outlook as it attenuated the detrimental stereotype of social entrepreneurs as “lone heroes” and reinforced their ability to effectuate change worldwide as “disruptive, opinionated, creative catalysts.”
Lateral collaboration amongst individual social entrepreneurs was also encouraged, as it allowed participants with different interests from varying sectors to grasp the common denominators that united their goals.
Whittemore describes an example of the lateral collaboration thought process: “…nuclear proliferation happens because of the existence of terrorists and sub-state actors, who exist because of weaknesses in the state, which exist because of corruption, lack of funding, and lack of capacity, which exist because of a lack of a tax base, which exists because of poverty, which remains the dominant paradigm because of all of the cyclical traps above and more.” Out of breath yet?