Is there a common vision for a socio-political framework to advance social innovations in Georgia and its neighboring countries? What is the hidden potential to make a collective impact in the region? And how can we tap into this potential?
The Social Impact Days seek to foster social innovations by unlocking further opportunities for collaboration across sectors. It aims to contribute to better understanding and trust building between businesses, public authorities and civil society sector in Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The event kicked off with a pre-conference tour of Tbilisi.
The welcome dinner in the early evening brought together all participants for the first time. The honorary speaker, Tamar Kordzaia, member of the Georgian Parliament, shared her perspective on the public sector in Georgia and mentioned the problems in getting the business sector involved in working for the common good.+
Okay, time to get to work! To better understand the role of social innovation in each country, we started the second day by discussing the specific obstacles, trends, societal issues and drivers in separate country groups. The aim was to put it all together and design a landscape of social innovations in the region
The map before the discussion...
... and two hours later! Now full of colors and arguments, the map revealed interesting insights: the societal problems ("unemployment," "weak regional development,", "lack of education"...) as well as the obstacles to social innovation ("missing laws," "bureaucracy"...) are quite similar everywhere. Depending on the size and degree of development of the countries, the participants saw youth, social entrepreneurs, and international organizations or NGOs as the drivers of social innovation
Amin Mammadov, coordinator of the Greater Baku Regional Development Project from Azerbaijan pointed out the importance of track three diplomacy formats such as the Social Impact Days as they manage to bring together stakeholders from neighboring countries with unresolved conflicts. Especially in the case of Armenia and Azerbaijan such a platform is perceived as a bridge between different cultural and sociopolitical realities.
Site Visit: The House of Justice
The discussion in the morning was followed by a site visit to the House of Justice where we learned more about social innovation in Georgia. Under the name of Public Service Hall, the House of Justice provides most public services such as issuing important and necessary documents like birth certificates and identity cards, passports or marriage certificates. Through these services and the way they are provided, the House of Justice in Georgia is paving the way towards innovation-driven good governance mechanisms. There are places like that in most of big cities in Georgia and the idea is used by other states in the region as well as in the European Union.
Site Visit: “Social Innovation: Social Investment” - The Bank of Georgia Future Foundation
After the visit, the group was divided into three smaller groups. The first went to the Bank of Georgia Future Foundation. Being the leading financial institution in the country, the Bank of Georgia established the “Tree of Life” Foundation which initiates and supports a number of charity and social investment projects.