DIVE 3: ZERO to ONE is bigger than 1 to N: INTERNATIONAL SE CONFERENCE in Skopje


DIVE 3: Zero to One > 1 to N or when doing completely new is more than doing only what you are familiar with. The notion refers to Peter Thiel’s premise, that doing something, someone is already doing, takes you from 1 to n, but when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1 – this enables leaders to emerge with unique solutions and businesses to rise above competition.

“DIVE 3: Zero to One > 1 to N” is a capacity building project financed by the European Union, under the Erasmus plus program, capacity building in the field of youth. From 24th till 28th October the hosting organization Youth Alliance organized an international conference in Skopje, Macedonia gathering NGOs, social entrepreneurs, youth workers, policy makers and different stakeholders from more than 12 countries from the whole worlds. The project included partners coming from the following countries: North MacedoniaYouth Alliance Krusevo, RomaniaEuroDEMOS, Greece Association of Active Youth of Florina, Peru – Social Work Lab, Costa RicaACI – Costa Rica, South Africa Belle &Co, Portugal Intercultural Association for All, ItalyDemostene, Slovenia N.K.L., PolandAssociation of the European Centre for Youth Initiatives(ECIM), NicaraguaJóvenes Ambientalistas.  The Bread Houses Network was part of the conference and we came together to discuss cross-sectoral collaboration in social entrepreneurship. See conference programme here.

The idea of the whole conference was roaming around the concept of ‘zero’ or what social innovations to develop in order to reach future ‘zero’ world: zero poverty, zero unemployment and zero carbon emissions.

We had 4 days of intensive discussions about the role of the social entrepreneurship in tackling problems as youth unemployment, poverty and carbon footprints. The days were divided in morning panels about the local Macedonian reality, noon panels about international good practices and experience and afternoon panels about coming up with policy recommendations in the field of social entrepreneurship.

The first day of the conference was dedicated to the youth unemployment. The guest speakers were representatives of the financial sector in Macedonia, the Fund for Innovations and Technological Development and the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy in North Macedonia. They shared their experience about the nowadays phenomenon of the young underemployed people who even if being employed in some company are not using their full potential and are not receiving the proper remuneration for the capacities they have. Some of the most successful programs and initiatives for supporting the youth (13-19 years old) were presented as a big part of them provide incentives for developing innovative solutions in the social entrepreneurship.

Some good practices were also shared from the side of universities in Macedonia and Portugal who are introducing real case scenarios connected to the social entrepreneurship in their academic program. Their researches estimated that by 2025, the world would lose more than 5 million jobs due to automation and the market needs to react accordingly to the needs arising. Therefore the university is encouraging students to identify real problems in the society and then based on the theoretical knowledge they have to find solutions. In this way students are developing both their empathy and entrepreneurial spirit.

The role of the NGOs in supporting young people in developing new skills and improving the already existing ones was identified as crucial. According to a research the millennial generation is facing some problems when it comes to finding the motivation to start something new and youth workers have noticed that the millenniums need more encouragement when it comes to being socially active. As we all know young people are a reflection of the society so this leads to the conclusion that we need to work more on finding the reasons for that.

The second day of the seminar was focused on the topic of poverty and social entrepreneurship. One of the conclusions of the day was that nowadays we are witnessing a state of poverty that it not only poverty in terms of income but also poverty in terms of values which have interrelation in between. It is important to remember that poverty is just a state in life and it doesn’t define you as a person, does not give you a different name. Our partners from South Africa, Peru and Slovenia shared their experience when it comes to poverty. The conclusion of the day was that at the moment the competition law is putting the price above the quality. However, if we want to live in a fair world in which we value the efforts of the individual people, we need to work towards a society for which values and causes come before the price of a product. And the social enterprise is one of the ways to appreciate the quality as such.

During the last day we were able to get to know some local Macedonian initiatives which stimulate the fight with the carbon emissions through the work of social enterprises. You can learn more about the initiatives here Treebank and Everyone Fed. Later partners from Costa Ricca, Nicaragua and South Africa shared their experience in reducing carbon emissions. Some of them shared that in this field you need first to recycle your own ideas because often what we do in the environmental protection is not resolving the problems but translating them into other problems. In order to solve the problem of consumption for example, we need first to learn from it and understand its reasons. According to one of the social entrepreneurs the plastic today is not the problem, the problem is us, the people.

A South African saying goes like this: ‘I am what I am through you!’ The beauty of these words brings so much truth and hope for the creation of stronger and more open societies. We need to learn from one another and develop ourselves through the others. Just like the bread – we mix ourselves together in order to become a little bit better and put our soul and heart in the dough!

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