Sunday, September 29, 2013

Interview with Tim Draimin, Executive Director of SiG Canada

I met with Tim Draimin, Executive Director of Social Innovation Generation Canada at the Social Innovation Exchange Summer School that took place in Seoul on September 9-12 this past month. I asked him specifically about how social innovation labs work through SiG and how the organization works with and/or for social enterprises in Canada. 

Tell us about the social innovation labs: When people try to solve problems, in many cases, they add firepower to ameliorate problems without actually sitting back to think about whether or not we can reinvent what we are doing. What is the root cause of problems? How can we end our problems from the root cause? 

Social innovation labs guide people through much more expedited processes that allows people to draw insights earlier on an come up with social innovations. I think that many NGOs have been, in a sense, elongated social innovation labs without access to a lot of professional support that could guide them in a more rapid way. 

소셜 이노베이션 랩은 신속한 과정으로 이미 존재하고 있는 소셜이노베이션에  대한 정보를 얻을 수 있는 곳입니다. 어떻게 생각하면 많은 NGO (비정부 기구)은 지속적으로 소셜 이노베이션 랩 활동을 하고 있다고 볼 수 있지요. 하지만, 전문가들에 도움이 부족해서 NGO 방식의 소셜 이노베이션 랩은 저희 모델보다 더 오랜 시간이 걸리지요.  

We are trying to link up various social innovation labs so that people can share ideas and benefit from the emerging knowledge from labs from around the world that are trying to solve problems using social innovation tool sets. 

SiG does this by creating events, educating people on how to share knowledge in an open-style, and bringing people together for the purpose of social innovation. We have about 15-16 people in southern Ontario participating. Within our network, we have big organizations such as MaRS Discovery District that specializes in a variety of issues related to company growth. In addition, we also have small boutique firms that gets pulled in for specific expertise. There are also ethnographers and big-data experts who can shed light on specific IT issues who get pulled in to help out on specific issues. 

Our networks extend to British Columbia and also to the US. For instance, the Rockefeller Foundation has funded one of our members, who is part of the University of Waterloo, for the past two years to convene some of the people from the leading labs around the world (from New York, Stanford, Toronto, Helsinki). We are trying to learn about what is important to create the next generation of labs. This particular project is focusing on creating a tool box to share with people all over the world who are interested in creating their own social innovation labs. 

Can you describe ways that the SiG works directly with social enterprises? 
SiG Canada는  어떤 방식으로 사회적기업과 협력하나요? 

I think of social enterprises conceptually as a type of social innovation. In Canada, most of the public benefit organizations (registered charities or non-profits) came out of a system that focused on grants,contributions, or individual donations. However, SiG seeks to help these public benefit organizations realize other sources of funding by integrating alternative business models (e.g. the social enterprise model). This gives organizations a better chance to scale up their social innovations.

개념적으로 봤을 때에 사회적기업은 소셜 이노베이션에 한 가지 예라고 생각합니다.  캐나다에 존재하는 public benefit organizations (공인된 자선 단체, 비영리기업)은 양여금, 개인 기부금등으로 기반된 시스템에서 생겼습니다. SiG Canada는 이런 public benefit organizations에게 대체 비즈니스 모델 (예: 사회적기업)을 통해서 현재 보다 더 다양한 자금지원 주체에 대한 소개를 하고 있습니다. 이런 활동은 이런 조직들의 소셜 이노베이션 성공률을 높여주고 있다고 생각합니다. 

We convened the Canadian Task Force on Social Finance because we were concerned about creating a capital market place to support social enterprises. The Task Force seeked to answer three questions:

1. What could be done to enhance the supply side of capital?
2. What could be done to enhance the demand side of capital? (improving the situation of social enterprises)
3. What could be done to influence the policy environment of governments that affects the above issues?

On the demand side, SiG made a recommendation around government reviewing all of the business support programs that were operated by municipalities, provinces, and the federal government to make them social enterprise eligible because most of these programs were not designed for this purpose. This is one small example. All in all, we are trying to change the broader system to better support social enterprises. 

SiG sponsors events that advances the whole field of social enterprises. 

For instance, we are sponsoring the 2013 Social Enterprise World Forum taking place  in Calgary, Canada from October 2-4. 

There is a global organization called Social Enterprise World Forum and each  year  there is a 3-day event to bring people from around the world to share knowledge and  advances in the whole field of social enterprise. For the first  time, this forum is coming  to Canada. Through the meeting, we are trying to bring together social enterprises  with for-profit organizations. Previously, there  has been an emphasis on what social enterprises can learn from businesses.  This time, we hope to share some lessons learned from social enterprises to  businesses. In a way we are trying to retro-fit the private firm to take on social  goals and incorporate into their business models. Broadly speaking, we are  asking, how can the economy better serve people? 

Are social enterprises the solution to social problems? 
Depending on what it is you are trying to do, there are different choices on how to solve the problems. You have to ask yourself, what is the most optimal solution in this situation? 

Before, people started with the structure and then set out to do what they wanted to do. Today, people can start out with an idea and then think about  the appropriate method to achieve their goals. Questions you have to ask yourself are: should my organization be for profit or non-profit? Should it be a hybrid? Or is it better to be a co-op? There are great examples of each model that should be studied for its strengths and weaknesses and the different challenges attached to each model. 

Is there anything you would like to say to social entrepreneurs in Korea? 
Canada has great events centered on social innovation scattered throughout country. But, Korea has half its population gathered in Seoul where an amazing buzz of activity takes place. We are nowhere near that. I am learning a lot here by interacting with people from all over the world and exploring the vibrant activities taking place in Korea. Before the 2013 SIX conference, I had the opportunity to visit aspects of the sharing economy here, which showed to me why Seoul is increasingly seen as a leader in this field. 

I have a hard time imagining a more disruptive social innovation that is going to affect people in the planet more rapidly than the sharing economy here at this point in time! 

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