Changing society for the better suddenly seemed like an achievable dream in Karaköy, a trendy neighborhood on the Bosporus shore across the historic peninsula of Istanbul, which was buzzing with excitement as 25 leading young social entrepreneurs from 16 countries in Europe, Turkey and North Africa flocked to the city for the 3rd “ChangemakerXchange” summit in December.
Founded by Ashoka in 2012 and supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung the ChangemakerXchange selects and gathers changemakers, aged 18 to 30, with a proven track record in driving exciting social ventures. Giving them a unique chance to share experiences, learn from each other and create cross-border collaborations the program now unites 65 young innovators across 20 countries with many more summits lined up already.
Social Innovators like Adam, 18, from Dublin, who after being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome as a child himself - felt compelled to change society’s approach to Autism with ASIAM, a user-led awareness raising initiative and one-stop shop providing tools to empower the Autism community. Joining him in Istanbul was Sonia Ben Ali from France, creator of Urban Refugees. Since her teens she’s been lobbying for innovative programs to serve better the many million refugees worldwide who chose cities over camps as they seek refuge. Or Yeliz Öszöy, who co-founded Turkeys’ first crowdfunding platform, BiAyDa, 24 year old Mouna Boujmal, co-founder of the Center for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship in Morocco and Alexander Iscenco from Moldovia, pioneer of the ‘maker movement’ and mastermind behind Dreamups, an open innovation platform to scale crowdsourced ideas with an impact.
The efforts and ideas of these young social entrepreneurs are truly inspiring. ChangemakerXchange however was born out of the excitement for the potential of multiplying their reach and impact by giving changemakers worldwide a platform to explore synergies and create collaborations. To that end the ChangemakerXchange summits largely abstain from any formal Agenda – instead they provide an open space to create and collaborate. In Istanbul alone 14 such collaboration ideas among the participants were developed. Some of which were kickstarted right there and then with four participants programming a website and facebook page to encourage people to get involved in causes (say around 'nutrition for all') instead of making egoistic resolutions (say 'losing weight'). The page reached 1000 fans in two days and keeps growing.
And this is just one idea by four of the 25 summit participants, wait until you see how the other 13 will contribute to changing the world and inspiring more people to make 'changemaking' a lifestyle choice– one collaboration at a time.