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Finance & Innovation

A summit without silicon

Daniel Lewis

I've always wanted to go to a keynote presentation. You know, those events that happen a few times every year where Google or Apple proclaims to unveil the future in front of the gaping eyes of thousands of tech nerds and pundits. But unlike the iPhone 7 which will be the “future” for maybe a solid 7 months and will really only be a slightly souped up version of its predecessor, the future talked about here, at the 2015 Social Good Brazil Summit in Florianopolis, Brazil, was the future of the world.

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For the past three years Social Good Brazil, a social innovation organization based out of Florianopolis, Brazil, has hosted the premier social innovation summit throughout all of Brazil; gathering some of the greatest social thinkers, innovators and entrepreneurs from around Brazil and the world. As an American volunteer working for Social Good Brazil I was one of the lucky few to get an inside look at the three day experience. Here’s how it went down.

Day one of the conference comprised much of the social innovation umbrella. From discussing governmental innovation with an actual Brazilian Congressional Representative to sharing the latest insights from inside the world’s burgeoning economies. Little was left off the plate.

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Our headline speaker for the day was Alexa Clay, the author of The Misfit Economy,“a bestselling book exploring how the other half innovates, drawing on stories from the lives of gangsters, Pirates, hackers and slum dwellers." She is an Amish-dressing, LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) expert, who will actually be living in Brazil for the next two months. But Alexa’s not here for the beaches, or Samba; she’s here for the culture, or, more specifically, the underground economies.

This is a woman who, while in Bombay, rode on the back of a drug dealer’s motorcycle after he had used a bit too much of his own product just to get the most accurate story possible. She’s not your usual headline speaker, but she fit, kind of perfectly, in our three day, Social Good Brazil experience that gathered over 1,700 misfits, entrepreneurs and social advocates to learn the newest ways in which people are making the world a better place.

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But there was still day two and it did not disappoint. With members from Google, Kiva, UNDP and a host of homegrown Brazilian entrepreneurs, everyone left with their heads brimming with new ways to fight for social good. We also held the award ceremony for the Social Good Brasil Lab program, SGB’s social innovation accelerator, with the crowd voting on who they thought had made the best pitch the day before. The winner, Centista Que Virou Mae, is a community of Brazilian scientist mothers supporting women in motherhood and self-empowerment and was awarded a seed fund investment of R$ 20,000! With second place, Letras de Medico and third place Praças close behind; each receiving R$16,000 and R$13,000 respectively.

Day two was followed by a day of hands-on social innovation. Participants spent time with some of the summit speakers and a host of other social innovators; fully immersing themselves in many aspects of social innovation. Participants designed their first apps, peered 15 years into the future and actually partook in a new form of social movement called Play the Call: the SGB summit is much more than just talk.

So next year, just think: three more days at the office or three days learning, living, understanding and networking your way into the future of social innovation. The choice is yours, we just hope we’ll see you there with us next year!

15-1216 A Summit Without SIlicon-4.jpgImage: Daniel Lewis

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