Social innovation is defined as all those new ideas about products, services and models that solve a social problem or cover a need more effectively and efficiently than current alternatives, while establishing new social relationships and synergies.
Therefore, social innovation are the solutions that profoundly change the social system that has been given to us, reducing people’s vulnerability.
The revolutionary ideas that carry the integrated social innovation component are as difficult to introduce into society as complex are the challenges they face. We talk about problems such as poverty, discrimination, unemployment , climate change , addictions or gender violence. Individual, organizational and social changes are needed, as well as legal, cultural, economic and political changes to help society and the planet prosper.
Elements contained in social innovation
For an idea to be classified as social innovation, it must have elements such as:
- Environmental, economic, ethical or cultural dimension. The mainstreaming of solutions must be given because the problems not only affect one dimension, but also splash the rest and, therefore, the solutions must take into account all aspects. Thus, you can take advantage of an opportunity to establish synergies and cover a need or solve a problem more efficiently.
- Innovation must have a sustainable long-term vision. That is, the problems we face have not arisen overnight, and the solution will not have immediate effect in the short term, but changes must be introduced gradually with the objective of eradicating the problem in the long term. and in a sustainable way in space and time.
- The solution must be scalable and replicable. We live in a globalized and connected world, so any type of alternative that is proposed must be able to be imitated in another part of the world and spread good practices quickly.
- It does not matter if social innovation comes from the public or private sector, as long as value is created for society.
To promote social innovation, we must promote the assumption of risks, curiosity, creativity, awareness of social problems and entrepreneurship (although it should not be confused with the concept of social entrepreneurship).
Examples of social innovation
These are some examples of social innovation promoted by different actors in society:
Social innovation promoted by companies
An example of this may be a coaching program for women who have survived gender violence and want to reorient their professional careers. Offer training and motivation that helps women improve their self-esteem and get a job, while the company gains in social reputation.
Social innovation promoted by financial entities
The ethical banking are those activities that carry out financial institutions without an exclusively economic and speculative purposes, but its benefits channeled into the real economy. An example of this is the microcredits promoted in India by Muhammad Yunus (Nobel Peace Prize in 2006) which consists of offering small loans to poor and disadvantaged people that other financial entities would refuse, to start up new business of sectors such as agriculture, commerce or renewable energy, for example.
The conditions are never abusive and criminal activities, prostitution or drug trafficking are not financed. In this way, the development of poorer areas is favored and generates business opportunities so that the most vulnerable people can carve out a future without relying on alms.
Social innovation promoted by governments
Universal access to healthcare for all citizens for free is a good example of what governments can do to improve the situation of society.
Social innovation promoted by the union of companies and NGOs
In underdeveloped countries it is essential to improve the well-being of your daily activity, through access to education, electricity or drinking water. Companies and NGOs can join forces to generate new new techniques that improve these aspects and in collaboration, make it reach the population that needs it. This is another phenomenon of social innovation that we can find.