Every small step can be a gamechanger for achieving Sustainability

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is in progress in New York. Safecity, my organisation, was one of 10 solutions selected to be presented to a distinguished gathering of diplomats, CEOs, heads of delegations and Social Activists at the Solutions Summit during the UNGA.

The aim was to showcase organisations addressing the various Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in innovative ways so that we could celebrate and accelerate their work and inspire others that the goals are achievable by 2030.

Elsa Marie DSilva

The solutions ranged from predicting pandemics, addressing rising ocean levels, saving marine life like blue whales and dolphins, maternal and reproductive health, sanitation and clean water, eradicating gender based violence, securing land rights and addressing issues faced by refugees.

No matter how big the social problem, people from different parts of the world were already finding ways to solve them in their own unique ways either with the use of technology and/or the community along with crowdsourcing information.

The next day, a Business clinic was held at the Columbia University to provide guidance and tips from experienced professionals and entrepreneurs to the 10 Solution Makers.

Some of the great tips shared were:

  1. It is important that integrity and empathy are part of your organisation’s value system. The 10 organisations were shortlisted from over 500 applicants because these values shone through their work and their personal journeys.
  2. “Doing good is good for business” – said Davis Smith, a serial entrepreneur. Incorporate a social mission in your work as it will create products with “unique stories” and inspire a movement amongst your staff, partners, clients and investors.
  3. Partnerships and collaboration are essential for you to scale if you want to solve a social problem. You cannot go far or fast on your own. You can leverage networks, identify the right partners and find innovative ways to collaborate.
  4. Simplify processes and think outside the box. Often traditional ways of doing business do not work or are not relevant in today’s fast changing world.
  5. Use the power of the community to design and test your solution. The community feedback is critical to helping make the product a success. After all, human beings are going to use your services or products.
  6. Be aware of the use of technology. We often think it is the solution but maybe it might not even be required. Technology should be used as an enabler without being a further propagator of existing biases. There are lots of technology options already available out there. So test it and if it works for you, build on it. No need to re-create the wheel.
  7. Make “risk taking” part of your strategic decision process. It is critical for the success of your organisation. As the organisation grows, your own ability as an entrepreneur to take risks might reduce but still ensure it is part of the process and encourage another team member to take on that role. Keep the risk-taking spark alive and vibrant.
  8. Look for ways to make your organisation sustainable. Secure the future.
  9. Strike a balance between profits and social impact. It is important to measure your impact.
  10. Make time for self care because the entrepreneurship journey is lonely and there are times when you go through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. During these times, you need to double down and invest in self care whether it is time off, exercise, yoga, meditation or family time.