Can a single social entrepreneur make a dent in the problems we face, given their phenomenal scale? This was one of the questions addressed by the 7th Skoll World Forum held at Oxford’s Saïd Business School from 14 to 16 April. The simple answer is: very unlikely. So a series of plenary sessions and workshops brought together entrepreneurs with representatives of government, media, large companies and financial institutions to explore how the solutions proposed by social entrepreneurs could create larger-scale change.
Let me pick out two personal highlights from the sessions. First day: in ‘Structuring Collaboration: Mergers, Partnerships and New Business Models’, entrepreneurs talked about how their networks, which provide access to health and water, are beginning to interact with government delivery infrastructures. I was fascinated to hear Gary White, executive director of Water.org, who said that more people in Africa have access to mobile phones than to safe drinking water, beginning to ask how they could tap into the mobile network to improve delivery of water. The idea that infrastructures created in parallel silos could be thought of as linked and mutually supportive was definitely a highlight.