Meet Therese von Blixen, Co-founder of Sime Social Impact
Therese von Blixen wants to be part of a solution. That is why she didn’t hesitate when Ola Ahlvarsson and Christoffer Granfelt from Sime asked her to co-create Sime Social Impact with them back in 2010. They had all seen the need to speed up knowledge on digital among social entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations, the idea was to do so by giving them access to the knowledge base of Sime free of charge. From the beginning it was mainly about inviting them to Sime, giving them access to a platform of tech and digital opportunities from the business community. Nine years later, it’s much more to it than that. The interest for social questions and sustainability is growing, and it´s mutual.
–It all grew into something much more: a place for the non-profit industry to meet the business industry and vice versa, learning from each other, she says.
Why is Sime Social Impact Important?
–The world is burning, flooding and migration will only increase. Losing your home affects everyone. 90 million people are on the move as we speak, and counting. If we keep sitting in our own little bubbles, nothing will happen. It really is high time to join forces for all to stay afloat and turn that tide.
–Therefore I believe it is important to have a platform where the two sectors that usually don’t meet naturally – traditional business and NGO:s – can do so. We want to demonstrate how they can collaborate, co-create and communicate towards the same important goals.
Which are the biggest changes since it all started?
–It has been an enormous mind-shift since we started nine years ago, towards more value driven businesses and faster acting non-profits. The last few years we have seen Sime Social Impact workshops being crowded with curious people also from the corporate world, which is just the way it should be.
–The world looks very different today, in many ways, partly thanks to social media. The people have a stronger voice and a channel where they can raise concerns and put pressure on corporations to be transparent and governments to step up. Thus more companies have become aware of what their clients demand and which impact they can have, and that they must listen. But it’s mainly the big corporations that feel pressured to produce CSR reports. I wish that also small and medium-sized companies would engage to a bigger extent, even if they don’t have the public’s eyes on them. Then we would really start to see changes.
–But what’s good is that the world has started to look at the ways in which stakeholders are coming together to answer big questions about what our future will look like in a hyper-digitized world. It’s an exciting and ever-changing field.
Which questions will you focus on at Sime Social Impact 2019?
–There will definitely be more focus on the environment and climate change. Finally. Call it a “Greta effect” if you want, but we will have to rethink everything. The IT sector today equals the airline industry’s fuel release in terms of carbon footprint. If the digital cloud was a country, it would be the 6th most energy consuming country in the world. So although tech can be for good, our consumption of it has to be completely re-evaluated!
–As I said earlier, migration will increase and affect everyone, which we need to take into account now. At Sime there will hopefully be some people from Eastern Africa, who have developed an app, JustGoodWork, for anti-trafficking of migrants. As it is hugely common that men are tricked into slave labour, women into sexwork or domestic slavery, and children all sorts of things, which is horrific. It’s a great app, but they need more professional help to develop it as well as inspiration. Hopefully they will inspire someone else too.
–Another highlight worth mentioning is a talk by Nargis Rahimi, social entrepreneur and founder of Shifo Foundation on how data and AI can support healthcare in developing countries. We will look more into big data collection and where we are now together with Data Act Lab, Goaltracker and Gapminder.
What and how can NGO:s and business learn from each other?
–Digital technologies are empowering billions of people around the world by providing access to education, healthcare, banking, and government services, and “big data” is being used to inform smarter, evidence based policies to improve people’s lives in fundamental ways. We want the business sector to see that new ideas, new markets and products can arise from collaborations that are value driven. Thus in the end, actually turning into a profit for all.
–But the higher the complexity of a situation, the more trust is needed. If we, through Sime Social Impact, can help create authentic meetings, which in turn create a higher trust, then hopefully this will help people understand and collaborate more. At Sime, they can go to the same workshops, hear the same speakers, get inspired by each others stories and have lunch next to each other. Again, there aren’t many natural places for the non-profit industry and the business industry to meet, so we try to provide that platform.
–As a result of this, we will this year and for the first time, streamline Sime Social Impact and Sime. All other years, we’ve had specific workshops and speakers for the Sime Social Impact track. But now, we’ve reached a point where there should be no difference. We should put them all on the same track. Bridging that gap and making collaboration a natural thing.
These are a few of the highlights, and of course – as always, we give away 100 free tickets to non-profits and start up social entrepreneurs.
Are you eligible for a free ticket to Sime & Sime Social Impact? Apply here