World Changing Social Entrepreneurs

Skoll World Forum 2011 report
Apr 6, 2011 10:00 PM ET

World Changing Social Entrepreneurs

 The Skoll World Forum describes itself as:

"the premier, international platform for accelerating entrepreneurial approaches and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing social issues."

In reality it was far more surreal than that and not just another do-gooder conference.

How else could you define a gathering of Hollywood stars*, An  Archbishop, A legendary singer singer-songwriter, A Queen, thought leaders from across the social and environmental spectrum and countless unsung international heroes delivering grassroots change for good? Aside from the recognisable names it was an education in its own right to meet a myriad of  social entrepreneurs to learn directly from their individual successes, failures and share knowledge.

From the beginning it was a bewildering array of workshops with any one of the six or so at a time tantalisingly offering insight into world-changing best practice. Not a place for those who struggle to make decisions, never mind including any consideration of the Oxford Jam fringe events on top.

I never find it easy to report back from such events beyond a couple of minutes of initial ferocious note taking before falling deeply into the intellectual debate. The key themes that emerged to me were those of solidarity,simplicityscale and passion. I know I've developed a penchant for over-simplification of late, quite possibly workload related, but the 3 days in Oxford reminded me of how simple the world really is. We make it complicated usually to justify our own fiefdoms for numerous reasons. Firstly it's about our planet, then every single person on it. See? Simple.

The Forum underlined perfectly the global nature of the issues we face and share as a species and the efforts under way to make our world a better place.

To attempt to get a brief sense of last week's Forum I suggest checking out the following video coverage (with times):

For inspiration:

Skoll Awards for Entrepreneurship

  • Ceres video (from 14 min 50 sec) -

  • Award Winner: Rebecca Onie - Health Leads (from 25 min 55 sec)

  • Award Winner: Ellen Moir - New Teacher Centre (from 33 min 20 sec)

  • Award Winner: Madhav Chavan - Pratham (from 43 min)

  • Award Winner: Ned Breslin - Water for People (from 52 min 40 sec)

  • Riders for Health video (from 60 min) -

  • Skoll Global Treasure Award: Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu - (from 72 min 24 sec)

  • Peter Gabriel & Baaba Mal singing "Biko"  (from 92 min 40 sec)

For thought:

Deep Leadership - Interior Dimensions of Large Scale Change

The Panel :

  • Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

  • Mabel Van Oranje - The Elders (Moderator)

  • Joe Madiath - Gram Vikas

  • Paul Farmer - Partners in Health

  • Cecilia Flores-Oebanda - Visayan Forum Foundation, Inc.

For reflection:

Closing plenary

  • Lord David Sainsbury on philanthropy, neuroscience and food modification. (from 10 min 40 sec)

  • Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan on building peace and justice (from 34 min 25 sec)

  • Fadi Ghandour (@fadig), Founder and CEO of Aramex International on change through collaboration and networks. (from 59 min 03 sec)

I thoroughly enjoyed the depth and breadth of the Awards and closing plenary and wish that the wonder of video could better convey the atmosphere and the emotion that filled the New Theatre last week.

Theses videos and the additional footage from the seminars available online is only the tip of the iceberg. I'd also take some time to read through the  in-depth blogs over at the Social Edge.

Here's just one example of the individual issues from Forum delegate Amy Lehman, President of  Lake Tanganyka Floating Health Clinic:

Watch video here>>>

Considering the theme was "Large Scale Change" I was surprised at the lack of genuine attention given to the role social media can, and already  is playing. Yes, it was mentioned in some seminars and Patrick Meier from Ushahidi focused the lens for a few short minutes in particular. It was again referenced against the civil unrest across North Africa and the Middle East,  but I'm certain it deserved greater attention than it received.

Now I now what to expect I only hope I'm fortunate enough to get to the event next year!

New friends, new learning, inspired hope and memories that will mature like the finest of wines as they travel with me.


* Jude Law and Goldie Hawn were spotted in attendance.

(Picture credit:  Skoll World Forum via Flickr)

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