“Innovation… is seldom the product of a single individual’s intellectual brilliance. Innovation is the product of the connection between individuals and their ideas” (Gary Hamel).
The same idea applies when looking for solutions for bottlenecks affecting children against the backdrop of a booming tourism sector in Nicaragua. To respond to these complexities, UNICEF Nicaragua is launching the Sociopreneur Initiative.
Sociopreneur is an innovative collaborative initiative that invites a wide range of actors (public, private, local, global) to brainstorm solutions and use social entrepreneurship to solve problems affecting children.
Understanding Tola’s social fabric. The Sociopreneur Initiative kicked off in full gear in October 2013. Under the leadership of the international team from Policy Lab, close to 300 people were consulted using Human Centered Design techniques. The goal was simple yet ambitious: to fully understand the social fabric of the municipality of Tola.
Entrepreneurship: a collective endeavor. Two things became clear about Tola. First, social entrepreneurship is not an individual effort. Rather it’s a collective endeavor with the capacity to bring value to both child rights and a responsible tourism model. Today, Tola entrepreneurs are invisible and they lack of connections with key actors (“authorizers”) who can bring them advice, self-confidence, expertise and financial support.
Create an entrepreneurial ecosystem: Tola Conecta. As a result of this situation, entrepreneurs and people with authority need to come together, so that the authorizing environment can act as a support mechanism for local entrepreneurs. In other words, to work and be sustainable, the Sociopreneur Initiative needs a social platform that supports the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem.
The idea of a social platform named “Tola Conecta” quickly emerged to fill the gap. Tola Conecta serves as support enabling system led by the community with a challenging task ahead.
First, it will develop a tourism model where the community selects the kind of tourist it wants. In other words, what kind of tourist does Tola want? To this end, it needs to create a framework of incentives (and constraints) that may influence the flux of tourists that come to Tola.
At the same time, Tola Conecta will also take advantage of volunteer tourism opportunities. By matching what local entrepreneurs need and what volunteering opportunities tourists can offer, the platform increase tourism activity through positive experiences that simultaneously create value for child development and a responsible tourism. The goal is to set up a volunteer tourism model that responds to the demands of the community and not the other way around.
Tola Conecta will also be the main driver behind the development of the Friends of Tola Network. These are the external entrepreneurs, supporters, like-minded stakeholders interested in supporting, coaching or mentoring local entrepreneurs kick-start their social business for children, particularly in disseminating new technologies and know-how.
Tola Conecta will be the main hub to disseminate success stories and good practices both inside and outside the community. It will also play a key role in changing existing social beliefs from the current ‘you-can’t’ mentality to ‘try it out, I’m here for you!’
Tola Conecta should try to set up a reinsurance system that supports alternatives for people without credit history(e.g. writing letters of warranty, qualifying agencies, etc). Successful local entrepreneurs can then act as reinsurers to new projects/entrepreneurs, replicating the process and ensuring sustainability.
Natalia Adler , Social Policy Chief, UNICEF Nicaragua ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
María Gabriela Martínez, Social Policy Assistant, UNICEF Nicaragua
( email@example.com )
Milja Laakso, Social Policy Officer, UNICEF Nicaragua ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
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