Here you’ll find some great examples of Social Innovation from Northern Ireland and around the world.
To help you, we’ve split them up into the different stages of the Social Innovation Cycle.
Social innovations are inherently about changing the way things are done and the way social needs are conceptualised. In this sense, systemic change is the ultimate goal of social innovation, even if very few social innovations reach this stage.
Systemic change is never achieved through a single organisation or sector; it always involves a complex interaction of culture, consumer behaviour, business practice, legislation and policy. Moreover, it always involves a change to attitudes and behaviours and requires people to see and think in new ways.
Systemic change requires that there are sufficient incentives for incumbents to change their practice and behaviour.
The founders of Grameen Bank, for example, wanted to show that an alternative model was possible and that, in time, this new model could become the established norm. Grameen Bank is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning microfinance organization and community development bank founded in Bangladesh. It makes small loans (known as microcredit or “grameencredit”) to the people living in poverty without requiring collateral.
It originated in 1976, in the work of Professor Muhammad Yunus at University of Chittagong, who launched a research project to study how to design a credit delivery system to provide banking services to the rural poor.
Based on his results, in October 1983 the Grameen Bank was authorized by national legislation as an independent bank. By the beginning of 2005, the bank had loaned over $4.7billion and by the end of 2008, $7.6billion to the poor of Bangladesh.
The Bank continues to expand across the nation. By 2006, Grameen Bank had over 2,100 branches. Its access has inspired similar projects in more than 40 countries around the world, including a World Bank initiative to finance Grameen-type schemes.
Solidarity lending is a cornerstone of the bank’s microcredit ethos, and the system is now used in more than 43 countries. Although each borrower must belong to a five-member group, the group is not required to give any guarantee for a loan to its members.
Repayment responsibility rests solely on the individual borrower. The group and the centre oversee that everyone behaves responsibly and none gets into a repayment problem. No formal joint liability exists, i.e. group members are not obliged to pay on behalf of a defaulting member.
But, in practice the group members often contribute the defaulted amount with an intention to collect the money from the defaulted member at a later time.
Such behaviour is encouraged because Grameen does not extend further credit to a group in which a member defaults.
This mode of lending and social accountability has led to millions of people accessing affordable debt finance which has, in turn, increased access to education, food and other services lifting people out of poverty.