Over the years, I’d always read about international development and nonprofit conferences taking place in Washington, D.C., and until earlier this year vicariously lived through blogs (including the Atlas Corps blog!) and other social media feeds. This month I was fortunate to be able to attend the Social Innovation Summit in DC from Jun 10 – 11 as part of the Atlas Corps Delegation, and it was exactly what I’d been looking for: an inside dynamic view of the key issues, developments and innovations in the social enterprise sector, and of course an unparalleled chance to meet leaders from across the world in social investment and enterprise.
What did the Summit have to offer? With the most solid lineup of speakers and attendees at a conference I’ve ever attended, it showcased some of the coolest innovations around: from a nonprofit training rats to sniff out landmines and TB, to a teenage prodigy talking about his pancreatic cancer detection test. Not only did the Summit offer expertise, networks, and resources but all that in an organized way through multiple facilitated breakout sessions and workshops, giving direction to conversations and paving way for meaningful discussions carried forward afterwards, including during the reception hosted on both evenings.
This was also my first time volunteering at a conference, a great experience even helping build more meaningful connections amongst the Atlas Corps fellow community. When not engaged in our roles as volunteers, we were free to do as we pleased, and I loved being able to talk to other attendees and speakers to learn more about the amazing work they all do. Personally, while I had some extremely stimulating conversations, the most enriching experience was to finally put a face to the voice that I had earlier heard through some of my work. I had the opportunity to meet 2011 Acumen Global Fellow, Mario Ferro, founder of Wedu, a social enterprise investing in women in South East Asia by providing mentorship and leadership training combined with innovative financing options to complete university.
The Social Innovation Summit is a twice annual event taking place in Washington, D.C. and Silicon Valley. Needless to say I hope to attend the next edition later this year in Silicon Valley from November 17 – 18, and of course share more about my experiences. Once again, I thank Atlas Corps for providing the fellows this amazing opportunity!