SenseCamp UK 2014: challenging people for social business
I landed at last year’s SenseCamp a little bit by chance (or was it destiny?). I had been in living in London for some months, and was very eager to get involved in the social enterprise space in the city. I’d always worked for charities and social businesses in other places I’d lived before, and was longing to do something in the local community. A friend had told me about the MakeSense ‘gang’, and suggested I go meet them for an evening of drinks and social enterprise chat. I met a lot of interesting people at the ‘SenseDrinks’. They told me they were organising a conference about social enterprise and that “It will be fun, you should come!”.
MakeSense is a rapidly growing global community of entrepreneurs, technologists, activists and professionals from all walks of life, brought together by a shared passion for social enterprise. The community mobilises the talents, skills and connections of this unconventional bunch (the SenseMakers) to help social entrepreneurs solve their business challenges and MakeSense of business. How? You are about to find out.
post-it notes and elephant costumes
I wasn’t completely convinced at first – I’m not a big fan of conferences, and it was going to take up a (possibly) sunny weekend in June. However, my friend had told me that MakeSense did fantastic things, and I felt compelled to go. And boy, am I glad that I went!
It’s an amazing thing, the power of unbridled enthusiasm and creativity. Witnessing it is surely one the most beautiful things anyone can experience.
I went to the meet-up on Friday after work, where we met Juan from social enterprise StudentFunder for a ‘hold up’. A hold up is a short, intensive and post-it-heavy brainstorming session run by and for a social entrepreneur who has a specific challenge that s/he needs help with. Within the hour, and without even realising it, we’d gone through dozens of post-it notes, and devised a consistent plan for Juan to attract more fundraisers to the Elephant Hike across the Alps they were organising. Did I mention he was dressed in an elephant costume?
´there’s no business like social business’
After that experience, expectations were set high for Saturday. There were 200 people there when I arrived, a mix of social entrepreneurs, social business enthusiasts and friends. We started the day with an insanely giant game of ‘rock, paper, scissors’ and then, amidst constant cheering, went on to set the plan for the day. Yes, SenseCamp is an un-conference, and attendees were invited to pitch the topics they wanted to discuss, which were then grouped and turned into an amazingly coherent plan of relevant discussions for the day.
I spent the day listening to very inspiring keynote speakers, learning about social entrepreneurship, participating in discussions about how to make social enterprise more accessible to young people, in creative hold ups for several social entrepreneurs who needed ideas, and getting to know people with amazing stories and projects. No matter what type of session I went to, I couldn’t help but notice the energy, the excitement and the sparkle in everyone’s eyes. Needless to say, there was never a dull moment.
Funnily enough, despite it being an intense weekend, I don’t think I’d ever felt so inspired and productive as I did after SenseCamp. You can’t shake off that enthusiasm, it’s something that just stays with you.
get ready for SenseCamp UK 2014
This year, I’m busy organising SenseCamp UK 2014, which will take place in London on 27, 28 and 29 June. Inspired by the roots of the MakeSense community, SenseCamp 2014 will be all about using open source & open innovation at the service of social impact. There will be a mix practical workshops and hold ups, impromptu sessions, kickass keynotes and plenty more! The weekend will also start and end with social gatherings – the aforementioned SenseDrinks – where we can bond over drinks and food.
If you are a social entrepreneur and want to showcase your project to the community, you can also get involved in the first official Demo Day @ SenseCamp for early stage social ventures!
so why should you come to SenseCamp?
1. To connect with people from all over the world, share your passions and make new friends
2. To meet great social entrepreneurs, help solve their challenges and learn from their experience
3. To learn about the MakeSense universe, a unique global community of changemakers
4. To voice your project, get more fans and support
5. To experience the power of unbridled enthusiasm, and get inspired to continue your journey as a changemaker
There will be people coming from all over the UK and Europe – Don’t miss out on the 28th of June! Get your tickets here.
Gabi Barbosa works in marketing for a tech startup in London, and likes to spend her free time helping social entrepreneurs. She has been part of the MakeSense community for the past year, and has been a Kiva volunteer since 2012. She is passionate about business and believes that it should exist to address social needs, instead of mindlessly pursuing profit without purpose.
that’s not all!
Warm up with other entrepreneurs at our next Social Sound-off. This month we’re talking about our target markets and how to avoid the ‘I help everyone trap’. Spaces are free, but limited so grab yours here.