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Espousing Social Change with Innovation

Societies have been progressing towards a more modernised and globalised world embracing all the opportunities it has to offer. Societies, however, do not remain untouched in terms of disparity and inequality around the world. 82% of the wealth created in the year 2016 as per the global survey conducted by Oxfam went to the richest 1% adding up to more inequity and disparity to the poorest half who received nothing.

With inequity and disparity growing manifold, societies throughout the developing world are dealing with increased poverty, poor health services, poor quality education, homelessness and the fuelling gap between the rich and the poor. This is despite the fact that net global poverty is on decline since past many decades. This growing phenomenon has drawn the attention of the entire world to call for common action, and has been provoking thought on building human economy that works for everyone. This has also pushed numerous countries, organisations and individuals around the world to aggressively think together to solve social problems and create more just and equitable societies.

Social change being as complex as the environmental issues that take decades to change deals with multiple facets of societies without disturbing the social fabric of the community. It has enabled societies view through backward lens of the individual, group and community level co-creating innovation in the entire value chain of social change. However, these efforts often fail to deliver due to the misdirected investment which goes mostly to the organisations backing social initiatives that are very structured to support specific groups of people or specific contexts with a top down approach and sophisticated solutions. Lower success rate are also due to the absence of factoring indigenous knowledge and techniques that societies possess. It would serve better to build initiatives around it while keeping agility and forward looking approach at the core.

The growing inequality and disparity has pushed a panic button for most countries, organizations and individuals prodding them to look into borrowing ways to innovate and practice innovation from private sector organizations. Innovation after all is known to be the playground of private initiatives. The private sector takes pride in stating that innovation is anything that brings incremental change in existing processes to optimize the efficiencies or effectiveness in the value chain of business. Change agents and stakeholders are now looking to innovation to see if it can be espoused with social change to reduce the growing inequity.

Building symbiotic relationship

Social change calls for the re-conception of the entire value chain of keeping people, process and technology at the core. It also calls for keeping context at the forefront, respecting natural, social, political aspects while bringing practices and models from around the globe to re-design content in the change making process, and building symbiotic relationship with communities where all participate in the transformation and reducing of inequality.

Mindset and change

Social change is an ever evolving process factoring in deeper understanding of the dynamics of the change in the natural and social world. It is also considered to be a clustered concept that deals with many kinds of forces inward and outward at the individual level, group level and institutional level, and so is the process of innovation. Innovation seeks change in the mindset and willingness to collaborate with all stakeholders in the value chain which can give rise to new ways of designing sustainable societies.

New ways of designing

The transition towards an equitable and sustainable society requires news ways of designing the existing social challenges leveraging the existing structures. This perfectly goes with one of the initiatives in Nepal that aims to bring shift in the livelihood, education, health and sanitation, governance and accountability in the marginalised communities having dense concentration. The initiative focuses on providing livelihood loans to excluded and marginalised families of Dhanusha to bring a shift in behavioral change. The focus in on handing out livelihood loans attached to the social metrics totaling to 100 points. Loans are given to the families dependent on school enrollment of their children, quarterly educational performance of their childern, school attendance, health and hygiene, time allocated for the homework, participation during parent teacher meetings. This fosters excluded families to remain accountable towards the learning needs of their kids, close watch on day to day teaching at schools, teacher involvement and school governance, making school management accountable for regular and quality teaching as the subsidized loan amount and interest is directly proportional to social metrics mentioned above.

The notion on building just and equitable society is that no initiative can take an inward approach if systemic social change is desired and calls for attention on espousing social change with innovation. It factors in all natural, social, indigenous and political aspects at the individual, group and institutional levels. Espousing both is catalytic by introducing simpler and good enough solutions aimed at underserved communities triggering incremental changes in their prosperity and wellbeing or disrupting change in the entire value chain of the social change as exemplified in the case above.

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