The organization Méshico explains what steps startups should take to get good results
Innovative social projects are those that provide communities with capabilities through intelligent processes that seek solutions.
If you want to develop a successful innovative project, you should always use the strengths of the people you’re going to be working with.
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Gabriel González, executive director of Méshico ‘your cause is my cause’, an association dedicated to promoting good causes, civil society organizations, and social entrepreneurs, says that the idea of these projects is to change the world.
In an interview for Tec Review, he shared his experiences with innovative social projects that he’s been part of and that have changed the lives of those who participate in them.
“The idea is to change the world by addressing each cause. We provide support and connect them with academia, the government, or with volunteers to work together, because you can develop a project better when you have solutions from several people from different vocational backgrounds,” says González.
Méshico supports social causes through cooperation, collaborative work, volunteering, and the integration of solutions. Here are some social innovation tips that Gabriel González suggests:
A social innovation project must be participative since it’s not just about coming up with an idea and imposing it.
He says that the needs of community members should be heard and it’s necessary to recognize what there is to work with.
Gabriel González says that you could come up with the best technological solution and the latest in innovation, but if people don’t participate or see its strengths or resources, then it’ll be difficult to achieve the objective of your project.
It’s about connecting with the community. He says that there have been cases of educational centers built with a lot of resources, but if people aren’t involved or don’t engage with these resources, then they won’t move forward.
He says that the risks should be evaluated too, i.e. innovation projects may vary based on those present in the community itself.
González says that a common mistake that’s made when preparing projects is to focus on weaknesses rather than strengths.
For example, he says that when someone thinks of young people, the first things that come to mind are drugs, unwanted pregnancies, or gangs.
So, they base their ideas on this and no longer see the flexibility of a group that’s growing and forming its values.
“It’s better if you understand the other side. You should promote young people’s mental health, avoiding criticism. That helps you and it helps them. You should connect, use their creativity, energy, bonds, and so on. If we contribute in another way, it becomes a different mission,” says González.
It’s about correctly identifying the challenge. If it’s poorly addressed, the social innovation project could have unnecessary solutions.
As an initiative that facilitates social innovation projects, it requires leaders who remain in the community.
That’s why it’s advisable to rely on someone who provides continuity to social innovation projects or to find a leader who’s involved with and committed to that community.
Méshico’s executive director says that when you find people with that kind of leadership in the same community, they organize everything. You don’t have to be constantly checking up on them and they connect with their peers.
“You have to find a leader who’s able to connect, because you (as a social entrepreneur) can’t be more involved than the community itself,” he says.
Gabriel González talks about an experience they had when empowering women in a community through an economic activity.
It was a business between these women and chicken farms, but the project was only possible as a collective with a female leader from the same group who had a sense of belonging to the project.
“It isn’t enough to come up with good ideas because if they don’t have the economic means and can’t work together, the problem of sexist violence won’t be solved,” he says.
This is because, in some communities, the spouses of the women involved can’t even contemplate the idea of a woman having economic independence.
But if it’s done collectively, they can protect each other and make the business grow.
Once the women are organized collectively with their micro-businesses and there’s a leader managing them, the project can be promoted and given continuity.
Méshico’s Gabriel González points out that the partnerships between various social innovation projects help to give a complete picture of the needs to be addressed.
In an experience they had with constructing housing, in association with Fruto Raíz, they realized that the buildings weren’t sustainable because they were made with cement. So, they teamed up with Ecoconstructores Oaxaca to make them.
“I’m a psychologist, so building houses doesn’t come naturally to me. You have to ask yourself: What partners do I need? What strengths and weaknesses do I have in that community? Then you can interact with other people and gain power, partners, funds, and volunteers,” says González.