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My first interaction with a social enterprise


Over the weekend, I participated in a challenge by +Acumen to help a social enterprise find a solution to one of its problems. When presented with the opportunity to do so, my desire to start with something made me jump at it. And, the fact that we were going to help a real social enterprise with a real problem, made the reason to participate even more compelling.

We were provided a case study and some additional reading well in advance of the challenge. Here we were introduced to IDEO’s concept of Human Centered Design, a method to approach problems with the belief that people who face these problems every day are the very ones who hold the key to solving them. It encourages designing a solution with a community, with empathy and creativity at its core. It also operates under the belief that all social problems are solvable, even the colossal ones like poverty, gender inequality, and lack of access to clean water.

So yes, incredibly optimistic; which is so great because how can you expect to solve a problem if you don’t believe it is solvable? I think optimism is fundamental to help any kind of change for the better. They gave us a comprehensive guide to the Human Centered Design methodology, you can read it here.

The social enterprise we worked on – Siembre Viva – is based in Medellin, Colombia. The challenge opened with a conversation on Google Hangout with Mina Shahid – an Acumen Fellow and COO of Siembre Viva, currently managing the business there. We were put into teams, and given some fabulous online collaborative tools to work with: Slack – for real-time communication with your team and moderators; Limnu – a platform to draw and brainstorm with your team in real-time; and Padlet, to share your ideas on a live community board. My six team members were a diverse and positive group, and although we had never communicated before, we worked seamlessly to solve the task at hand. The challenge overall was really well planned and managed by the team at Acumen.

After doing this challenge, we have all qualified to become part of +Acumen Corps – a community of like-minded people looking to help solve problems. We will be given access to more challenges like this one, and resources to learn more about solving problems, allowing us to participate in our own way to making a difference.

You might have noticed that we talk about Acumen a lot on this blog. We have no official connection with them; it’s because we truly find them a great resource for our journey into starting with something. Challenges and courses with +Acumen have also allowed Stewart and I to have some valuable conversations at home as we share ideas and think jointly about issues that impact our world, and what we can possibly do about them.

If you are lost and don’t know where to begin, and are interested to get started in the social enterprise space, Acumen is a great place to start.

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