In the last few years, I’ve been able to become part of several networks and to enjoy different opportunities, so I decided to share some of my thoughts.
- Networks have a purpose. They are CREATED by people who have a mission and are FORMED by others who want to discover how to generate/expand social impact from the top.
- Knowledge exchanges happen within networks. What you have to share can be an important learning experience for someone else. What someone else has to offer can be an important learning experience for you.
- Networks teach. For many people with a clear purpose, but who are maybe not so sure on how to get there, it is participating in a network that allows them to receive the necessary training and mentoring to plan and take the first step. Or to grow. Or to change course.
- Networks have resources. They can connect people that are looking for resources (financial and/or human) with people looking to invest in ideas/social businesses/non-profit organizations that need resources to be born/consolidated/expanded.
So it is probably not wrong to assume that the very existence of a network presupposes that at least two individuals become connected and, more than that, they benefit each other in an unselfish way.
The networks will end old power, since they promote joint development with an increasingly decentralized knowledge base and autonomy of agents. With the developing chain of relationships, the system gradually tends to change and New Power enters the scene. To learn more about Old and New Power, have a look at this interesting article by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms: Understanding “New Power”.
As I have already mentioned, I participated in the ChangeNOW Summit, which took place in the charming city of Paris, where for three intense days packed with a full events schedule, I had the opportunity to meet potential investors, to access knowledge, and to discover countless ideas that promise, in the coming decades, to revolutionize the way human beings consume, move and interact with nature. All of this was very important for a few reasons: it boosted the organization of which I am a co-founder, it helped me to discover new business models and to develop myself (personally and professionally).
My participation was possible thanks to Yunus & Youth, a network inspired by the story of Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and creator of the concept of microcredit. It is estimated that this concept was responsible for taking tens of millions of people out of extreme poverty around the world. In this network, young entrepreneurs running a social business have free access to the Yunus & Youth Fellowship Program, where cutting-edge training is offered alongside mentoring by a market professional. I was part of the first Y&Y class in 2015. There I met entrepreneurs from all over the world, many with ‘fresh-out-the-oven’ ideas, and others with ideas in more advanced stages. Thinking that “people all over the world are getting together to get their hands dirty and make their dreams come true!” was a great incentive!
I had the opportunity to connect, share and learn during the training courses and with the support of a mentor from Mexico. In 2015, I was invited by Y&Y to represent Brazil at a BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) forum in Russia, which was such a unique and memorable experience.
There are numerous networks that you can get to know and participate in. I will mention some of the ones I’ve had the most proximity to in the last few years; for all of them participation is free of charge:
- ASID Network of Institutions: focused on managers of institutions that attend to people with disabilities. These managers have the opportunity to participate in training and enroll their institutions for different schemes and opportunities. Click here to access.
- Global Shapers: it is a network linked to the World Economic Forum where young people get together voluntarily to develop projects that impact their cities. Every year some participants are selected to participate in the World Economic Forum with a scholarship and represent the next generation at the main discussion tables. Recently, a friend of mine, Laís Leão, participated and in this text reveals what the experience was like (click here to access).
- United People Global: selects young entrepreneurs from around the world with ideas related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for a week of training and a 1 year long Fellowship. Click here to learn more.
So, I hope you’ve now seen the potential of networks, and thought about how they can be useful for you and your purpose. I hope you’re feeling compelled to join the next network you discover. Or, perhaps, create one, why not?
See you soon!