The first oikos Summer School was held in Tbilisi; in the heritage country of Georgia, with the theme of Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainability in Emerging Markets.
The Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University Ivane, better known as Tbilisi State University (TSU), is the oldest university in the Caucasus region. TSU hosted this Summer School for international and Georgian students. The event lasted for 10 days, had 29 participants from 18 countries and was financed by the Children and Youth Development Fund.
The main aim of the summer school was to teach participants about social entrepreneurship in the oikos way: via sharing theoretical and practical knowledge and having hands-on experience. This helped make the participants see the potential of social entrepreneurship based on sustainable and innovative ideas.
After a warm welcome by Levan Pangani; the president and founder of oikos Tbilisi, the oikos International president Lenka Parkánová, told the participants what layed in store for the next 10 days. Vakhtang Charaia, the adviser of rector of Tbilisi State University, then made everyone aware of the heritage of TSU. Post the official welcome, the participants were introduced to the conference’s speakers and facilitators, Anirudh Agrawal, Bogdan Prokopovych, Andrea Tabi, Dario Mazzella and Thomas Buerki.
While the ever enthusiastic Anirudh introduced the concept of a social enterprise, Bogdan and Thomas were the facilitators making the participants understand how to mould a social enterprise with the help of structured business models. On the other hand, Dario Mazella handled the trickiest subject – how to getting the funding for a startup and approach investors. Andrea Tabi guided the participants towards academic writing and the specifics that need to be kept in mind while writing their cases.
The participants used this knowledge and these tools on three case studies they were assigned, exploring the concept of social enterprises in Georgia. Participants analyzed positive foreign experience and opportunities for its use in Georgia and they also exchanged information about good practices of social entrepreneurship. Besides academic activities, participants were given the possibility to visit several historical cities and monuments in different regions of Georgia. There were also team building activities like skit performances, group debates, travel to the workplaces of the respective social enterprises and the accomodation was perfect for after class discussions by the pool or barbecue.
This Summer School brought in the confluence of academic rigor with practical application. During the conference, participants underwent training in theory and applications of social enterprise incubation and funding. In addition to that, the participants indulged in rigorous business case solving, where the entrepreneurs of the cases discussed their business problems and co-engaged with participants in addressing their business problems using the skill-set available.
Here are some reflections and thoughts of the speakers and participants.
“My interest comes from my position of academic, which was to understand the social enterprises operating in Georiga and how are they affecting the institutional change there. My learning were really centered around understanding the socio-economic construction of post soviet Georgia and the role of social enterprises in the identity construction. I am yet to complete an article, but as my discussion and learning center around my interest. ”
– Anirudh Agarwal (Speaker)
“It was a great experience to participate in the oikos Summer School as a speaker and get in touch with a lot of students from all over the world with a huge interest in social entrepreneurship. During working on the essays with them, it has become clear for me that dealing with social and environmental issues are not the luxury of developed countries anymore, but young people in all countries have the sensitivity and willingness to draw attention to these problems. I sincerely hope that they will continue pushing the world in a more liveable pathway and shape the thinking of their peers as well.”
– Andra Tabi (Speaker)
“Being part of the oikos Summer School: Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainability in Emerging Markets was a great experience that made a profound effect on me at a professional and personal level. Having the privilege to work alongside lecturers and highly skilled students was the right environment to acquire the required knowledge to create social value by analyzing social enterprises and learning how to create social startups. During the course our team-work skills evolved by developing a project alongside persons from different countries and with distinct professional backgrounds. This summer school helped us all delegates to reinforce our leadership profiles in order to understand social issues and new ways to address them.”
– Hugo Saucedo, Mexico
1) Working side by side with totally different cultures is a must have experience and skill when you want to broaden your career limits and OIKOS Summer School was the place to gain some really useful different culture experience. My takeaway – one size does not fits all. And with this I mean that one method of organising group work does not fit for all participants taking into account their culture and previous background.
2) Mix of topics under the umbrella of social entrepreneurship that was varied between lectures and group work, sessions of questions and student presentations and visiting real entrepreneurs was the perfect mix for student engagement. My takeaway: I will use this approach when preparing study courses at university where I teach students.
3) Entrepreneurship is a practical type of studies where real life examples and practise (do it yourself) is much more efficient and helpful than theoretical studies. Use of business model canvas, elevator pitch, consulting real entrepreneurs etc.., on their business improvement are very good tools to teach entrepreneurship (no matter social or not) for students. My takeaway: I will use business model canvas method next time when discussing business models with partners developing some start-up company or helping to set up one for others.
– Davis Plotnieks