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  • Katharina Serafimova & Melanie Gajowski

Beyond Competition


How can local initiatives and start-ups or young enterprises contribute to the change towards a life-sustaining society?

We do believe, that we need to have collectively an urgent discussion about how start-ups and regional initiatives can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. This is, why we accepted the invitation to be part of a panel discussion called Start-ups for SDGs in Geneva on Tuesday November 14th 2017 organized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Politecnico di Milano and Youth Business International (YBI) and Impact Hub Geneva.

We hope that the honest discussion about how and under which conditions start-ups can contribute to the transition towards a more connected world, in which humans can live in harmony with nature, takes place at this event.

As we shared in our blog-story from September 29th, we believe that we need new approaches for the transition towards a life-sustaining society. This requires a shift in paradigm to value:

  1. Collaborative efforts and co-creation beyond individual action and predetermined change agendas

  2. Value and needs-based approaches beyond risk-return and power-driven processes

  3. Connectedness of people, planet and economy beyond separation

For this specific event and the question how local initiatives and start-ups or young enterprises contribute to the change towards a life-sustaining society, we conclude the following:

Competition will lead into the old story

Ten wonderful young entrepreneurs have been selected to showcase their business idea to a targeted audience of impact investors and sustainable finance partners. We observe that a competition, where there is one winner will allow nine initiatives to loose. That is why we need to find out together, how to go beyond and manifest the new story of collaboration.

Risk-return and power-driven processes will stabilize the current system

The ten young initiatives will have the opportunity to win an equity fund of US$ 15,000 or a grant of US$ 5,000. The prizes are sponsored by ONE CREATION Cooperative, a Swiss Investment cooperative. We observed that in moment the price was introduced, the pressure to rank the initiatives based on poor information in an over simplistic evaluation scheme became unavoidable. That is why we need to go beyond judging with points and accepting a rating system given by a supreme authority and create new navigation instruments.

Separation will lead to dis-connetedness of people and nature

We observe that the old way of dis-connected experts judging start-ups is not any more appropriate to answer the question how and which local initiatives will contribute to a life-sustaining society. That is why we need to develop a deep understanding of the concrete needs and respect for the regional and local level to be able to re-connect needs of the people in their community, nature and money based on values.

We are unconditionally open to continue the discussion, co-create and contribute.


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