Two years after its launch, three days of intense work for the coordinators of the worldwide network of EoC incubators, to discover the elements of value and uniqueness it bears.
by Francesca Giglio
It is commonly known that new technologies have cut distances and allowed previously unthinkable communications. But that, in spite of this, physical encounter still retains a completely different flavour made up of expressions, voices, looks, human warmth and a much more intense level of communion... this, perhaps, is always worth remembering!
It was with this in mind that the EoC-IIN Team got together last weekend at Polo Lionello Bonfanti. The participants of the meeting were the coordinators of the hubs that have so far been established in 14 countries around the world since the birth of the incubation network 2 years ago. They attract and support a new generation of entrepreneurs oriented towards this kind of inclusive and prophetic economy. Even though the work of the community, in fact, progresses through constant telematic exchanges and dynamic Skype group calls, the work generated during a live meeting carries an unparalleled value: that’s how some old deskmates found themselves as representatives of access points in Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, Argentina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cameroon, Uganda, Spain, Portugal and Italy, as they gathered under the guidance of a highly successful international team composed of Luigino Bruni, Anouk Grevin, Florencia Locascio, Rebeca Gomez, Koen Vanreusel, Isaias Hernando. It was an occasion for intense team building during some deep sharing, learning and rethinking the future, with the prospect that EoC-IIN is increasingly the spearhead "for an EoC 2.0"!
And the result was a real kaleidoscope of ideas, inspirations, contaminations, stories, anecdotes, incubated projects and many new paths on the list for after returning home. In these 3 days participants first got to know each other more through their passions, talents and backgrounds, and then they worked in brainstorming sessions to better define the very entity of the EoC-IIN, focusing on innovative and value-bearing proposals to strengthen everyone's commitment to an increasingly intense sharing of adventures, results, needs, dynamics and tools. They looked at the present and future life of the EoC, to be guaranteed and strengthened exactly through the intervention of the EoC-IIN hubs in the different regions, which play a strategic role in the incubation and acceleration of new enterprises set up in the name of communion and a positive social impact.
In an alternation of group work and plenary sessions, the program has been elaborate and productive: after a macro overview updating the audience on the fruits of EoC-IIN to date, work was done on a presentation of the mapping of each Hub, i. e. the elaboration of the various local contexts, to help analyze it through reciprocal questions, trying to examine in depth how to expand resources and services of this mission of accompaniment to the StartUps. A SWOT analysis of the individual Hubs followed, focusing on the strong points, weaknesses, possible threats and still unexpressed opportunities in detail, so as to see clearly about available skills and the ways of developing the missing ones.
The introduction of a precise incubation methodology, based on the Business Model Canvas and Lean StartUp Canvas, also contributed to the development of a more efficient shared strategy. The path chosen and on which ideas have been exchanged, far from wanting to be too rigid a scheme to be enforced in full, is rather a tool to have a common language that at the same time can better structure the work that the assisted StartUppers should perform. These include: defining feasibility conditions, identifying the necessary timescales, resources and entrepreneurial skills, facilitating possible interventions by experts and mentors, producing an official document with the main characteristics of the project (which can be easily understood and presented also for funding requests, where necessary), and after a careful strategic analysis, being able to move on to the launch of the activity, implementing the related legal, financial, action and communication practices.
Beyond purely technical tools, however, the focus of the meeting was more on the elements of value and uniqueness that distinguish the incubation process carried out by EoC-IIN compared to the many other existing incubators:
- first of all the priority target identified in all proposals to combat poverty, vulnerability and isolation. One of the final interventions by the coordinators of Brazil (not by chance the cradle of the EoC!), more specifically from the Presidency of Anpecom, was of a specially vibrating nature as it reminded participants concretely that the aim of EoC-IIN is first and foremost to go towards the poor, to rid them of the sort of guilt that society often wants to place on them, proposing instead trust, accompaniment and tools to set an attitude of resilience in motion and to generate an activity that can improve their living conditions;
- the awareness and strength of being a true global, interdisciplinary and intergenerational network made up of a lively community of young people, entrepreneurs, senior professionals, experts, technicians and communicators, coordinated centrally and activated on the local level by the Hubs.
- Since the whole process is based on communion, with the courage of not being direct providers of funding, but guaranteeing long-term support and a deep understanding of what the StartUpper is going through, the idea is to further develop enterprises in which communion - based on the 3 pillars of dialogue, trust and reciprocity - is authentic, strong and transversal to all elements and should perhaps come even before the social impact produced;
- the advantage of synergies with other interlocutors, in which many different members work productively and in a capillary way towards the same direction of the integral development of the person and society.
The participants in the meeting find themselves working in very different contexts: from the limits of a non-market economy such as in Cuba's particular case, to the more structural shortcomings of the African continent, to the high unemployment rates among young people with a high level of education throughout Europe, etc... however, in their mission all of them have realised themselves to be real network activators with a specific dedication for the development of new business opportunities aimed at reducing and, over time, eradicating social imbalance.
If the radicality and involvement of the first EoC entrepreneurs were linked to a personal vocation in the past, the greatest challenge of the EoC-IIN will be to be able to nourish the same measure of radicality and diffusion, by updating the narrative of the EoC, transmitting its values the best way possible, expanding resources, alliances and cooperation, and knowing how to share the beauty and preciousness of the assisted economic projects that are already changing some bits and pieces of our world that’s not going well right now.
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