The Global Social Innovation Summit was the first of its kind event that brought together leading actors in the social innovation spectrum – from labs to social enterprise accelerators from over 43 countries to learn, share, inspire, and collaborate. ‘It was an exciting opportunity to bring together leading actors from about 90 social innovation hubs to learn from each other’ shared Nathan Tumuhamye, Director RAN Eastern Africa Resilience Innovation Lab who represented the network in the summit.

Today’s global challenges are more complex and rapidly changing yet traditional approaches to problem solving cannot keep pace. But at the same time, social change agents have more tools at their disposal, and more diversity of ideas to draw from through processes like crowdsourcing or social innovation labs, to create change at a transformative scale. As a result, the social sector has recalibrated its approach to innovation to harness these new dynamics. Because change happens so rapidly, and implementation and scale can take time, we must be constantly anticipating and solving problems of the future. By thinking of innovation as a proactive process we can better spot good ideas when they emerge and feed a pipeline for continuous innovation. But we must work together to drive this change.

Over the past few years, we have seen a number of spaces and conferences in the US and Europe dedicated to the dialogue of catalyzing innovation to address social problems, but not as much elsewhere around the world. Therefore, this convening was a great opportunity for social innovation organizations working closest to the problems to come together to share how they are addressing challenges and driving innovative solutions to learn from their diverse experiences, create a common agenda, and ultimately, enhance their ability to effect change at a systemic level.

During the summit, a multitude of social innovation issues were discussed including building innovation systems for social change, creating markets for scaling social innovations, crowdsourcing and other tools for system thinking and innovation, role of technology in advancing social innovations, storytelling on how social innovation hubs have overcome risks, alternative financing mechanisms for social innovations among other topics. RAN represented by Mr. Nathan Tumuhamye and Mr. Dennis Chirawurah the Director Eastern Africa  Resilience Innovation Lab and West Africa Resilience Innovation Lab respectively were privileged to share about the Role of Community Engagement in Scaling Social Innovations, when and how to engage the community and challenges with community engagement.

This gathering was convened by The Rockefeller Foundation and the Multilateral Investment Fund. Participants engaged in highly interactive workshops, learnt from leading innovators and were inspired by stories of impact on the ground. About 120 participants from 90 social innovation organization leaders and other key social entrepreneurship ecosystem actors from all over the world attended this summit