We heard yesterday that we were through to the final of the EU Diogo Challenge Social Innovation Competition. The competition started with 605 applications from 53 EU countries and Community Catalysts has made it to the last 10. Needless to say we are pleased, excited and just a touch……..nervous. The competition aims to tackle the issue of unemployment across the EU and invited entry from people with ‘new ideas on how to unlock fresh talent, skills, experience and insights of people who have a great deal to offer to our economy and society.’
Last month we heard we had become one of 30 semi-finalists invited to attend a two-day mentoring workshop in Amsterdam. They were an amazing couple of days with some interesting speakers, challenging exercises and time to hear from grass roots organisations across Europe about their innovative ideas. At the end of our workshop we were asked to pitch our idea to the whole group in no more than 90 seconds and in a way that made sense to people who knew nothing about our work or our sector. Anyone who knows Community Catalysts will know what a challenge this was – our idea was complex and hard to distill into little more than a sound bite (Sian writes too much) and I was the one tasked with the 90 second challenge (and I definitely talk too much!). The pitch was by no means perfect but here is the result
‘If we win the prize we will use it to establish a web-base mentoring network that links people in big business with people in little business. We know that this would tackle three problems:
1. People in big business want to tackle their poor image and to connect with their community. They don’t know how to do it. 2. People in communities have great ideas of how to care or support other people. They need advice to set up or develop their own little enterprise. 3. Older and disabled people want more choice of imaginative, personal, high quality care and support services.
We have been working in partnership with local government across the UK for more than 3 years. We have supported 100s of small care enterprises some of them run by older or disabled people (who know what good and bad care looks like). Between them they have created 100s of jobs and 1000s of care options.
To add value to our work we have recently partnered with two big businesses who have released staff to volunteer to mentor small care enterprise leaders. This face to face mentoring takes time, is limited by location and is not scalable. Our virtual network will have national (and potential international) coverage – more big business mentors, more little care enterprises (so more jobs) and much more choice of local care services.’
The pitch went well and we got lots of constructive feedback and advice. We went away and refined our idea before submitting our detailed entry a couple of weeks ago. Whatever we did must have been OK because yesterday we were told we were in the final! The next step is a trip to Brussels at the end of May where we and the other 9 finalists have to pitch our idea properly to the panel of judges before the winners are announced.
The winners of the competition get 20,000 Euros to spend on implementing their idea. Having heard the ideas from the other finalists we don’t dare to dream of winning – but we know with certainty that taking part has helped us learn lessons and make connections that are a prize in themselves.
More information from: www.communitycatalysts.co.uk