In a change of epoch as we live, who are the referents and leaders of our society? Who will be the heroes and heroines that help solve such important challenges as climate change, the invasion of our oceans by plastic or growing inequalities? If we look around us, we find a society that does not trust politicians, is suspicious of big companies and, in some cases, only loves soccer players who are tax evaders and celebrities who participate in ridiculous reality shows to make a living and entertain the masses. In addition, when asked about the economy, the 82% percent of Spaniards believe that a new economic crisis will come Before 2023, almost all of them think that since the crisis that began in 2008, the necessary mechanisms to prevent a new collapse have not been activated.
Faced with this situation of widespread disenchantment, a new figure appears: social innovators. They are people who identify problems around them and get down to work to solve them. They are not famous or pretend to be, the media do not usually talk about them and do not generate groups of fans and followers. But none of this matters to them. Among the characteristics that define them are creativity, a collaborative spirit - it is common for them to collaborate with each other and with other people - and determination in order to achieve their objectives.
We can find social innovators in all kinds of fields. Some of them can also be called social entrepreneurs, when undertaking entrepreneurial projects with the purpose of improving the lives of people or the health of the planet. Others develop their activity in NGOs, neighborhood associations or public administrations.
Javier Goyeneche created the fashion company Ecoalf with the purpose of cleaning the oceans of plastics and used fishing nets. With the motto From trash to fashion The Spanish company has started its international expansion by opening in Berlin. Brisa Fenoy triumphed on international catwalks as a model, but her passion was in music and her personal commitment to feminism and support for the most disadvantaged groups. Today, the composer, who rose to fame by adapting The bad for the OT television program, she continues to sing for gender equality and supports projects such as Top Manta, a cooperative created by five Senegalese social innovators who arrived as immigrants to Spain and have started up their own textile cooperative.
Javier Goikoetxea and Iván del Caz triumphed in their professional careers as a salesman and consultant, but both felt that their values were not aligned with those of the companies for whom they dedicated their time and their lives. Both decided to change a comfortable income for the happiness of doing what they really liked, promote new economies between companies and other entities. They created the Bikonsulting cooperative and today they promote models such as the economy of the common good or the circular economy.
In Malaga, two public officials lead the social innovation of local administrations. Resurrección Hernández, from the Citizenship Area of the Diputación de Málaga, leads the La Noria Social Innovation Center, a collaborative space that promotes social innovation among NGOs and companies in the province. Ruth Sarabia, general director of Social Rights and Citizen Participation of the City of Malaga, works to make the city of Malaga an international reference in the field and has just presented the Social Innovation Plan of Malaga prepared with the support of the Arrabal Association , a pioneer in the integration of disadvantaged groups. These are the true heroes and heroines that 21st century society needs if we really want to stop climate change and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.
Diego Isabel La Moneda He is the director and founder of the NESI Global Forum.