Social Innovation

Let's Fix It - the new podcast on how 'social innovators' are improving our world

Pavitra Raja hosts conversations with social innovators including Hilde Schwab, Co-Founder of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.

Pavitra Raja hosts conversations with social innovators including Hilde Schwab, Co-Founder of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. Image: Jose Antonio Canadas/World Economic Forum

Pavitra Raja
Programme and Engagement Lead, Europe and Americas - Schwab Foundation, World Economic Forum
Alexander Court
Marketing Communications Lead, World Economic Forum
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  • The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship works with the world’s leading social innovators.
  • This community has impacted the lives of over 722 million people in 190 countries.
  • A new podcast, 'Let's Fix It', hears from people who are finding solutions to some of the worlds most complex problems.

Have you ever looked around at a major problem facing society and thought 'Given the chance, I could fix that'?

Some people are so driven by that notion, they make it their life's work. These are the 'social innovators' - men and women creating and delivering solutions that improve the lives of people in their communities and beyond.

A new podcast series, Let's Fix It, talks to some of them to hear their stories of fighting against the odds to make positive change happen.

In interviews with a dozen accomplished social innovators, we discover that many went through failure after failure, but pushed on, convinced by the mission to serve their community.

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship recognizes that being a social innovator is often a lonely, challenging journey, and has brought together over 400 individuals and helped them share learnings and encourage one another.

The Foundation has also studied the impact of social entrepreneurship. This work has discovered the world’s leading social innovators have impacted the lives of over 722 million people in 190 countries.

We wanted to learn more from the individuals doing this work. What problems are they fixing, what are the biggest challenges they face and what keeps them motivated?

Here is a selection of the common themes that social innovators told us about:

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What is the World Economic Forum doing to champion social innovation?

'I'm going to measure it not just by endless growth, but by endless impact'

Nthabiseng Mosia, Co-Founder and CCO, Easy Solar.

social entrepreneur Nthabiseng Mosia is Co-Founder and CCO, Easy Solar.
Nthabiseng Mosia is Co-Founder and CCO, Easy Solar.

Easy Solar is suppling thousands of homes across Sierra Leone with solar-powered lighting and home systems, which can run mobile phones and entertainment devices.

“Social entrepreneurship is just this calling, a call to action, a call to being of service. It's leveraging models of business, which I think can be quite effective to reaching a lot of people, but with a heart, with a purpose, with this idea of, 'I am going to use this profit-making, crazy capitalist world to be of service and actually I'm going to measure it not just by endless growth, but by endless impact'.

"So to me it became a no-brainer to be able to really, just with every dollar we earned, it was not a dollar, it was a light on, it was children studying. It was people being empowered. It was really thinking about this foundation of society and what it means in people's lives … I think that's what social entrepreneurship is to me, using business to be of service.”

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'The idea nearly ate me alive'

Mikaela Jade, founder and CEO of Indigital

social entrepreneur Mikaela Jade augmented reality technology Indigenous culture
A social entrepreneur, Mikaela Jade is using augmented reality technology to bring Indigenous culture to life. Image: World Economic Forum / Mattias N

Mikaela was working in a national park in Australia when she realised that visitor information failed to give insight into the lives and history of the Aboriginal people. Her company Indigital uses augmented reality technology to bring Indigenous culture to life.

“The idea nearly ate me alive and I couldn't sleep. The idea came to me in the shower and it just wouldn't leave my head. And then I got more and more excited about it.”

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Being a social entrepreneur can be lonely

Hilde co-founded the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship with her husband Klaus Schwab to promote the work of social entrepreneurs.
Hilde co-founded the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship with her husband Klaus Schwab to promote the work of social entrepreneurs. Image: World Economic Forum / Mattias N

Hilde created the Schwab Foundation with her husband Klaus, the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, to promote the work of social entrepreneurs.

“It is a very lonely affair to be a social entrepreneur because you have to fight constantly.

"Klaus and I started the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship in the late 90s, because I thought it was important to give them a platform to include them in the works of the World Economic Forum with all the business people, the politicians, academia … give them a platform and give them recognition. Because many people didn't know what social entrepreneurship was at that time. People are understanding now what it is, but this is also thanks to the Foundation who, really, put the word out.”

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You need to be resilient to succeed

Kyle Zimmer, President and CEO, First Book

social entrepreneur Kyle Zimmer president CEO First Book
Kyle Zimmer (centre) is president and CEO of First Book, and a social innovator. Image: World Economic Forum / Boris Bal

First Book provides books at low cost to schools in low-income communities in the United States. She tells Let's Fix It about the power of failure, after she was turned down by 40 banks,

“To hear 'no' 40 times isn't the best time anyone has ever had ... The bad news was it took time. The good news is that our design is smarter. If we hadn't gone through that process, we would have missed all that learning. Failure isn't just a thing that happens when you're in start-up mode.”

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The next generation is an inspiration

Luvoyo Rani, Co-Founder and CEO, Silulo Ulutho Technologies.

social entrepreneur innovator Luvoyo Rani co-founder CEO Silulo Ulutho Technologies
Luvoyo Rani is the co-founder and CEO of Silulo Ulutho Technologies.

Luvoyo saw the huge need for access to computers for people living in townships outside Cape Town, and made it his mission to get affordable technology and training to his community.

“I realized that for the next phase, it's not going be about me. So having the right people that are going to work with me that are going to take this to the next level is very important.

"And it's a very painful journey for many social entrepreneurs to be told by the people that you employed that you are going in the wrong direction. It's quite key to surround yourself with much more experienced people who are much more qualified than you, so that they can work with you to achieve your mission.”

Subscribe to Let's Fix It wherever you get your podcasts or listen at
https://www.weforum.org/podcasts/lets-fix-it.

Check out all our podcasts on wef.ch/podcasts:

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Social InnovationEntrepreneurshipClimate ChangeEmerging Technologies
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April 9, 2024

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