Social Innovation Comes Alive at GSIF 2012

Ms Lim Sinni and Ms Penny Low of Social Innovation Park

Have you heard of social innovation?

According to Wikipedia, social innovation refers to "new strategies, concepts, ideas and organizations that meet social needs of all kinds... and that extend and strengthen civil society." Those that are well planned and orchestrated could trigger social movements that address critical gaps in our world today.

Social innovation often include social entrepreneurship (the adoption of entrepreneurial principles to solve social issues) as well as partnerships between the public, private and people sectors (3P). It is a strategy used to foster positive change, addressing prevailing social, community, health, or environmental problems.

With the theme "Inclusive Innovation - Walk The Talk", Global Social Innovators Forum (GSIF) 2012 aims to show how social innovation is done. The event showcases worldwide examples of enterprises, technologies, communities, art and environmental initiatives that embrace the tenets of inclusiveness.

GSIF is organised by Social Innovation Park (SIP), a non-profit organisation founded by Member of Parliament Ms Penny Low which aims to develop social entrepreneurs and bring about positive transformations to society.

Happening 18 to 19 October, the forum features renowned speakers like Tony Buzan (Mind Mapping), Parag Khanna (Hybrid Reality Institute), Jim Jarvis (arctic explorer), NTUC Fairprice CEO Seah Kian Peng, DBS Bank's Karen Ngui, and many others.

 Key highlights include:

- Plenaries by moderated by thought leaders on areas of social innovation leadership;

- "Big Ideas Lab!" sharing ideas on bottom-up change;

- Master classes on topics like ground up innovation, art as an inclusive tool, and the power of social media for social movements;

- "Social Innovators Accelerator Track" for innovators and social entrepreneurs to gain support from international or local support groups;

- "FirePITCH SPOTLIGHT!": a platform for aspiring social entrepreneurs to pitch ideas to potential investors.

Accompanying the forum will be a 2 day festival (GSIFest 2012) held from 20 to 21 October which feature organisations and individuals who demonstrated social innovation. The festival will be held at various venues: City Square Mall, Uniqlo Bugis + & 313, The Central, Orchard Central, VivoCity, Punggol Community Garden, and MacPherson estate (covered walkway from Blk 43 to Blk 51).

Let me highlight two noteworthy examples from the festival.

Project Health (City Square Mall) spearheaded by Social Innovation Park and students from SMU seeks to promote lifelong habits of healthy eating working with primary school students and their parents. A key figure in this initiative is Chef Benny Se Teo of Eighteen Chefs. Touted as Singapore's very own Jamie Oliver, the reformed ex-convict is now a leader in creating healthy, tasty and easy-to-prepare recipes in partnership with Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Eu Yan Sang as part of Project Health.

Tee Story, founded in August 2011 utilises recycled tee-shirts to produce laptop sleeves. They work with disadvantaged women from social welfare organisations to create environmentally friendly products, killing two social "birds" with one stone. Achieving the triple bottomline of profit, purpose and people, the fruits of this noteworthy initiative will be displayed at Uniqlo 313 and Bugis +. 

Personally, I'm inspired by what the SIP team sets out to do. With a bold ambition to reach one million eyeballs, 100,000 lives, and 10,000 event participants, Penny Low and her team hopes that all Singaporeans will join them in this worthy cause.

Be a part of this social movement and sign up for the GSIF 2012 today! For more details on the programme as well as registration, click on this link.

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