HOW SOCIAL BUSINESS, COOPERATIVES, AND THE POWER OF SOLIDARITY TRANSFORM SOCIETIES IN A SMALL AND A BIG SCALE

“There is so much potential in the room to create change,” said Daniela Mahr in her philosophical reflection.

 THEREFORE, WE SHOULD JUST START … I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO IT!

This was the start for 2 days full of energy, valuable contributions and joint interactions around social business and cooperatives and the power of solidarity. 175 participants registered for the Friends of Social Business Forum in the R + V Academy.

COOPERATION IS BORNE TO HUMAN

In the panel on International Solidarity with Prof. Dr. Peter Eigen and Christoph Dänzer-Vanotti, Eigen told about how he developed a sense of justice and solidarity with the poorest of the poor during various stays abroad, which ultimately led to him founding Transparency International at the age of 55.

But it also needs the cooperation of various stakeholders to sustainably solve social problems in a country. He embraced this multi-stakeholder approach, which Prof. Eigen is considering in terms of solidarity, in an initiative to improve working conditions in the textile industry, especially in producing countries such as Bangladesh, home of Prof. Yunus. The government, private sector and civil society come together and work together to solve existing problems.

How can social business be a solution here? “Social business is an approach in which I solve social problems sustainably with an economic concept,” says Dänzer-Vanotti.

COOPERATIVES AND SOCIAL BUSINESS OFFER DIVERSE POSSIBILITIES

Exactly these manifold possibilities were the impulses of Gabriele Möhlke of Social Business Women and Philipp Veit of the cooperative UrStrom. Social Business Women (SBW) sees itself as a strong sign of lived solidarity, because especially old-age poverty is a women’s issue and even a leading economy nation like Germany cannot afford to discriminate against 50% of the creative minds in the economic system. Therefore, SBW sees great potential especially in the field of women’s starting companies and supports them through coaching, training, mentoring and consulting.

Since 2010, UrStrom provides a cooperative approach to a sustainable solution in the field of energy transition. The board of UrStrom eG, Philipp Veit, gave an overview of how UrStrom, in cooperation with 95 other cooperatives and a total of around 15,000 producers, offers its members the opportunity to work together to shape the energy world and mobility of tomorrow. Here is the film from UrStrom: http://www.urstrom-mobil.de/kurzfilm

GROUPS INTERACTIONS THAT CREATE AWARENESS

Subsequent to the introductory panels and keynote speeches, as well as a joint plenary transformation brainstorming session, the participants then entered the group interactions. In the course of 8 workshops, they discussed concrete examples with their respective workshop hosts and developed practice-oriented solutions to different questions from the business field of social business and cooperatives. On Friday, each participant could decide on one of the following workshops, and they could either attend a second workshop on Saturday or deepen the discussions from the previous day in the same workshop:

  • Social Business Women: Work: Focus on Women in Leadership + Management: Challenges and Future for Women in Leadership
  • Toni Heigl / Co-Living Corporation Project: Living: Innovative and solidary living and working on the example of a Munich reference project
  • Bernhard Albert, Klaus Hoffman / The Cooperative: Growing and Opening: How can dynamic growth succeed in a still young cooperative taking into account central values?
  • Dr. Silke Schemer / Bilingual Montessori School: Education: Transformation of a bilingual Montessori school from association to cooperative: What needs to be considered? How does the process succeed?
  • Philipp Veit / UrStrom: Energy: e-CarSharing in the hands of citizens: assertion of a cooperative against carsharing offers of large corporations
  • Sabine Holtkamp: Nursing Care: How can the idea of ​​Social Business contribute to the improvement of geriatric care in Germany?
  • Manouchehr Shamsrizi / RetroBrain R & D GmbH: Health: Challenges for Social Business in the field of Digital Health with the example of the scaling strategies of RetroBrain
  • Holger Thiesse / The White Room: Sustainable Clothing: How can we carry the idea of ​​Social Business into the textile Industry?

SOLIDARITY, CREATIVITY AND SOCIAL BUSINESS

The conclusion of the first day was Prof. Yunus’ inspiring speech on solidarity and how this motivated him to found the Grameen Bank. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate and founder of the Grameen Creative Lab has been working tirelessly for over 40 years to eradicate poverty, with solidarity, creativity and his social business concept playing a key role.

YOUNG SPIRIT AT THE FRIENDS OF SOCIAL BUSINESS FORUM

The second day was all about youth and their creative power.

After welcoming the participants by Prof. Yunus and Daniel Nowack of Yunus Social Business and a musical opening of the two young singers Tabea and Annika Dick, several high-tension impulse speeches extended the perspective on the solidarity of cooperatives, social businesses and similar initiatives. Johannes Damerau from the Walforma student cooperative presented how, through the founding of the cooperative, students were first of all introduced to economic know-how. With a weekly market, which they organize themselves from the first to the last step, they not only learn the basic rules of economic thinking and action, but also want to promote sustainable, plastic-free consumption.

ADAM SMITH AND THE HOMO COOPERATIVUS

Viktoria Schäfer, Chief Executive Officer and Scientific Director of ADG Scientific, showed that even the most famous economist of all time has two hearts in his chest. Adam Smith, while one of the founders of modern economics, which is based strictly on the assumption of selfish individuals, yet Smith was equally convinced that it is human nature to share in the fate of others. Smith had portrayed this solidarity and other virtues in his Theory of Moral Sentiments.

 

SOLARLIGHT IN AFRICA

Torsten Schreiber, founder & CEO of Africa GreenTec, already presented his initiative at the first Friends of Social Business Forum. This time, he announced a new crowdfunding campaign starting in the middle of this year to bring more solar containers to Mali. The social change that Africa GreenTec causes by building a complete electricity infrastructure in a village is always fascinating. By this Internet cafés, tailors and other small businesses are being created. All of this contributes to ongoing prevent escaping on the ground and to help people to build their own future in their homeland.

Learn more about Africa GreenTec (https://www.africagreentec.com/)

THE POWER OF YOUTH TO DESIGN A SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY

Participants then had the chance to look for new topics in the second round of group interactions, or to join the same groups from the previous day to continue their discussions.

The second day of the forum was concluded by a panel on “Creating a Sustainable Community”, which was mainly filled with representatives of the youth. Among them Silas Gottwald, Chairman of the Youth Parliament Wiesbaden, Robin Balzereit, Permanent Representative in the City Council and Paul Fuhr, Aynid, and Luzie Blom from the Walforma student cooperative.

SOLIDARIAN AWARENESS FOR WORLDWIDE CHANGE

In addition to intensive exchange and networking, participants shared a common mind-set. The awareness for a necessary change, so that we can live a life worth living together on this earth also in the coming decades, which at the same time carefully protects the resources of our planet. Above all, this requires one thing – our solidarity – whether local or global.

We are looking forward to the next edition of the Friends of Social Business Forum!

To find out more about Friends of Social Business or to attend one of our upcoming events, visit:

www.friendsofsocialbusiness.com

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