Social Innovation Lab to spur social enterprise startups

  • A key aim is to enable ‘Inclusive Innovations,’ innovations that benefit the poor and underprivileged
  • To act as incubator for innovative projects with a social impact, but also help build the technology to power them

Social Innovation Lab to spur social enterprise startupsTHE Social Innovation Lab, launched in conjunction with the World Innovation Forum 2012 in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 5, aims to partner businesses and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to spur social enterprises.
 
Social enterprises are a new breed of startups modeled on Mohammed Yunus’ Grameen Bank, which serve the community while generating income.
 
One of the key aims of the Social Innovation Lab is to enable “Inclusive Innovations,” innovations that benefit the poor and underprivileged.
 
“It concerns me that, as a society, we are spending too much time innovating Facebook and too little time innovating the way children learn,” said Kal Joffres (pic), director at the Social Innovation Lab.
 
The Social Innovation Lab is similar to an incubator for innovative projects with a social impact. However, unlike most incubators which provide space, the Social Innovation Lab will work with social innovators to build the technology that powers their enterprises for social good.
 
Collaborators for projects at the Social Innovation Lab include Tandemic, Teach for Malaysia, the Social Enterprise Alliance, Yayasan Inovasi Malaysia, Taylor’s Business School, Edunation, and SOLS 24/7.
 
The Lab already oversees a number of key projects in the social sector, it said in a statement. It is providing the technology behind Hati.my, Malaysia’s largest open directory of NGOs, and Do Something Good (http://www.dosomething.gd/), a volunteering platform launched by Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
 
The Social Innovation Lab will also look into regional projects, aiming to help underserved communities in South-East Asia.
 
Social Innovation Lab to spur social enterprise startupsThe Lab’s launch was witnessed by Professor Anil Gupta (pic), an international expert on grassroots innovation and the founder of Honey Bee Network in India, a crucible of individuals and NGOs with a presence in more than 75 countries.
 
Going forward, the Lab is building technology for a series of new enterprises that help social entrepreneurs get micro-funding, help NGOs find people to hire, and help social organizations “borrow” corporate talent to improve their operations.
 
ExpertCloud is one of these projects; it is a platform that helps NGOs access expertise in large companies to accomplish tasks such as getting advice on a legal document or addressing a financial issue. ExpertCloud will be piloted with a major Malaysian bank early next year, the Lab said.
 
The Lab also involves the public in building new social innovations. There are opportunities for programmers, designers, and general researchers to contribute to social innovation projects on the Social Innovation Lab web site (http://www.innovationlab.my/).
 
Joffres encourages individuals and organisations to get involved: “We need to close the innovation gap. There is a risk that those who have the tools for innovation will continue moving forward in the economy and society and those who don’t will be left behind.”
 
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