The oikos International Summer School on Social Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation was a 9-day event for international and Georgian participants that took place in Mestia, Georgia. Forty participants from eighteen countries gathered in order to learn more about the topics and actively transform the Svaneti region for the better.
Through various lectures, workshops and field trips, participants acquired knowledge on the meaning of social entrepreneurship and how it relates to innovation. They were also exposed to the topics of campaigning, financing, how to advance your own ideas, creating values through one’s business and more. The workshops were delivered by Socionext, our partner for the Summer School. The hands-on approach, which allowed participants to directly apply the knowledge learnt on Svaneti cases, was energetic, constructive, and thought-provoking. By working in teams throughout the 9 days, participants developed real businesses for the region: one related to the entertainment industry reusing an abandoned building, one related to water, one related to preserving cultural heritage and one selling an almost lost tradition of drinking Rakhi.
Local participants from Mestia were consciously involved in order to make a local difference. They were exposed, like the other participants, to an international perspective on entrepreneurship and how to implement sustainable principles in developing countries, especially. Locals were actively engaged in the development of the ideas, who will hopefully be pursued on the oikos VBI. With the businesses developed during the Summer School, locals will be able to keep the social entrepreneurship spirit alive in the region. Moreover, success will be achieved if more entrepreneurs will be born, which will lead to sustainable development in the region.
After having engaged in the Socionext workshops and the development of business ideas in the first 6 days, the 7th day entailed a workshop on behalf of Ian Choo. Ian dived deeper into the concept of entrepreneurship with the participants and brought alternative perspectives to the table. Participants then met with the Director of the partnering foundation and the Deputy Ministry for Youth Affair. At the beautiful museum in Mestia, participants presented their work in front of a wide audience and were successful at doing so. Participants then received their certificates.
On the 8th day, participants traveled to Ushguli, the highest village in Europe. There they connected with nature and discovered the importance of maintaining cultural heritage. The Summer School was concluded by a typical Georgian buffet dinner and a wonderful cake. On the final day, a 9 hour bus journey awaited participants to move back to Tbilisi. Amongst the fatigue and happiness of the past few days, participants expressed enrichment and stopped at a wonderful restaurant on the way right next to the Prometheus Caves.
Post the Summer School, the oikos VBI will be utilized. As mentioned above, the oikos Virtual Business Incubator is an innovative aspect of the event, it is an online platform, which will become a guarantee of success for business ideas. It will answer modern business incubator challenges. Through which users will have online room, where they exchange with experts and learn more about entrepreneurship practices. Users can do many things, amongst which, test their ideas through various models, such as the canvases.
Overall, participants showed in their feedback that they have achieved a better understanding on the topics and appreciated the, sometimes too fast, hands on approach. Thank you to everyone who made this Summer School possible and until the next time!
“The oikos Summer School increased my knowledge and understanding about social entrepreneurship and the impact it can have for sustainability.” – Musa Babatunde Lawal, Nigeria, Participant
“The oikos Summer School was a great opportunity to connect with people from different cultures and backgrounds and to exchange social business ideas. I really liked the 5-day course with Socionext because rather than just being theoretical, it was very practical and hands-on and together we developed great social business ideas for the Mestia region.” – Berenice Bruegel, Germany, Participant
“Having been a participant of the oikos Summer School was a great challenge and experience for me. It taught me that, if you are motivated, everything can be done. The fact, that we managed to make our business plan in 4-5 days proves the same. Plus, the charming views of Mestia were a great inspiration to us. The topic also was interesting for me. I think, that, especially for Georgia, development of social entrepreneurship and social innovation is very important. The speakers were highly educated and careful. I liked the way they led the workshops, they enabled us to see the issues in a practical way. I met very motivated, successful and positive people and I still keep in touch with them. Due to the Summer School and its participants, the willingness to be better and to do more during these years, woke up inside me. Everything was organized perfectly. Every next day was better than previous one. These nine days, which I have spent in Mestia were unforgettable for me. I will always miss the warm and businesslike atmosphere.” – Ruska Gurashvili, Georgia, Participant