We have a big ambition: to create a new economic system with inclusivity at its heart. Some of the world’s most innovative and exciting minds are creating solutions to fix our broken society, but they are working in spite of the current system. We want a new economic system that empowers them and brings their efforts together so that they can change the world. Every week we talk to exciting social entrepreneurs to discover what they think a new, fairer economy should look like.
This week’s guest is Ken Banks, the Head of Social Purpose at Yoti, a start-up which develops innovative digital identity solutions. He is also an award-winning social entrepreneur and a mobile technology and global development expert. Ken is best known for developing Frontline SMS, a mobile messaging platform used today by non-profits in over 190 countries around the world. Ken has written two books on social innovation, and is an in-demand speaker, thought leader and mentor.
Mel and Ken’s conversation is wide-ranging and free-flowing, and you can sense how much these two accomplished social entrepreneurs enjoy discussing their ideas and opinions with each other. They covered many topics, including moral leadership, the responsible use of technology, purpose and the role of business in creating better societies, and Ken’s own journey to becoming a highly respected social entrepreneur. His realistic optimism imbues the entire conversation and will leave listeners with renewed hope for a better future.
Recorded in lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, so please excuse any wifi- or tech-related challenges!
This week we’re talking to Jeroo Billimoria, a hugely successful serial social entrepreneur who has had a profound impact on the lives of millions of children across the world through her organisations that include Child Finance International, Aflatoun International, Childline India and Child Helpline International. She is currently at the heart of Catalyst 2030, a collaboration between social entrepreneurs, governments and other organisations seeking to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs by transforming social innovation ecosystems.
Old friends Jeroo and Mel’s conversation centres around the power of collaboration to drive deeper and faster change - the principle on which Catalyst 2030 is based. They also discuss the importance of admitting failure and of the seemingly counterintuitive notion of closing down an organisation when it has achieved success. This is a great opportunity to listen to two leading social entrepreneurs discuss how to drive lasting change.
Recorded in lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, so please excuse any wifi- or tech-related challenges!
Kicking off season three is Sue Riddlestone, the co-founder and Chief Executive of Bioregional, which champions a better, more sustainable way of living by working with partners to create more sustainable places to live and work. They famously created BedZED, an iconic ecovillage which inspires zero-carbon living across the world. They are also behind One Planet Living, a vision and framework for a world where everyone can live happily within the Earth’s resources. Sue was integral to the development of the SDGs in 2010, and helped to make the London 2012 Olympics the greenest games ever.
Sue and Mel’s brilliant and thoughtful discussion centres on how we can live with the means of the planet, one of the most important issues we face. One Planet Living could form the basis of a New Ism! They cover rethinking urban development, localisation, working with companies to make them truly sustainable, veganism, how the coronavirus pandemic has shown us a way forward, and so much more.
The New Ism is back with a bang!
Our guest this week is Philip Jennings. Philip recently retired as the General Secretary of UNI Global Union, which represents 20 million workers from over 150 countries worldwide. Their mission is threefold: to build power for working people in service sectors across the world through the growth of unions and the expansion of collective bargaining; to improve working and living conditions for workers; and to support decent jobs for all alongside sustainable economic growth.
Philip and Mel talk about what work will look like in The New Ism, trust and tax, the implications of artificial intelligence and much more.
This episode was recorded at the Homeless World Cup so you will be able to hear some cheering in the background! We also had a few technical issues so we have re-recorded a couple of questions and added some clarifying points. The quality of the content is as high as ever, and Philip has some truly fascinating insights to share.
Our guest this week is Bjørn Ihler, a Norwegian peace activist who survived the Utøya mass shooting in Norway in 2011. He now works to promote harmony and counter extremism and hatred through a variety of means including writing, talks and filmmaking and theatre productions on related topics. He is a young leader in the Extremely Together movement which mobilises political will to overcome threats to peace, development and human rights.
Bjørn and Mel’s conversation spans creating healthier communities, positive populism, whether we should replicate the Scandinavian model, Bjørn’s thoughts on basing society on the universal declaration of human life, and why he chose to pursue peace rather than retribution in the wake of the Utøya attack. Bjørn is insightful, thoughtful and utterly remarkable - the world needs more leaders like him.
Adam spent eight years building a global movement of entrepreneurs who are proving that we can use business to make the world a better place. He has now joined Dark Matter Laboratories where they explore how to create a new system, researching and developing new institutional support frameworks for collaborative system change, and building portfolios of experiments to understand what a better future looks like.
Adam and Mel talk about the exciting and important work that Dark Matter Laboratories is doing, but also about a wide range of topics: harnessing the full ingenuity and capacity of humans (and not treating them as 'bad robots) and the urgency with which we need to do that, experimenting with different political systems to see how we can improve what we have already, and understanding how we are all part of one single system.
Florian Rutsch is a systems change expert at Ashoka UK, which identifies and supports a network of leading social entrepreneurs who are driving systems change, and aims to empower everyone to be a changemaker. Florian’s work focuses on the ecosystem for social entrepreneurs – in particular on funding for their systems changing work.
Florian and Mel cover a lot of ground in their conversation: from reimaging capital to the global vs. local debate and universal basic income to democracy and leadership, Florian has a well thought-through vision for The New Ism that is fascinating to hear.
Johanna is a Professor of Organisation, Strategy and Leadership at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, and the Hewlett Foundation Visiting Scholar at the Stanford Centre on Philanthropy and Civil Society. She is the academic editor of the Stanford Social Innovation Review and has co-authored or co-edited numerous books, book chapters and articles in scholarly publications. Johanna’s research lies at the intersection of organisations, institutions and social change, and her objective is to contribute to a better understanding of the drivers and barriers of social and economic development.
Johanna and Mel’s conversation is incredibly wide-ranging, covering topics from the relationship between innovation, scaling and impact; how to address complex issues from a systems perspective; the role of educators in a new economic system; the future of leadership; and the importance of focusing on local realities and identities, to name just a few! Johanna’s experience and expertise makes this an incredibly insightful discussion.
Safia Minney is best known as the founder of pioneering ethical fashion brand People Tree, where every product, as well as being stylish, is made to the highest ethical and environmental standards from start to finish. Safia is a trailblazer in ethical business and a leading influencer in sustainability, fair trade and fighting modern slavery. She has written nine books and is currently working on leadership for sustainability and climate action.
Safia and Mel talk about ethical, sustainable fashion, of course, but the conversation moves on to how we need to transform trade, and how we must value the resources and people that make our clothes and other products. Safia has strong views on what needs to be done to tackle the climate emergency, and on the power of the individual and the responsibility of the media. Finally, she and Mel discuss how we can nurture and upskill a new generation of socially conscious leaders who will be able to transform their organisations and their industries for the better.
Harish Hande is a leading Indian social entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of Selco, which creates an ecosystem to eradicate poverty using sustainable energy as a catalyst. They design, develop and deploy customised sustainable energy solutions that improve the quality of life and socio-economic development for some of the world’s poorest and most marginalised people. Selco’s interventions have had a positive impact for over one million people across India.
Harish and Mel discuss how we can harness sustainable energy innovations to combat poverty and democratise health, education, entrepreneurship and many other sectors. Harish believes that sustainability shouldn’t be siloed - it should be the norm and woven through all sectors and activity. There are two main threats to the world right now - climate change and poverty - and the solutions to both are intrinsically linked.
Patrick Holden is the founding director of the Sustainable Food Trust, which works internationally to accelerate the transition towards more sustainable food systems. A pioneer of the organic food movement, Patrick plays an instrumental part in the creation of policies, frameworks and measurements that are helping to build a more sustainable agriculture system across the world. His work is underpinned by his practical experience in agriculture on his 100-hectare farm, which is the longest established organic dairy farm in Wales.
Patrick and Mel have a fascinating and uplifting conversation about the many ways in which we can change agriculture so that it has a positive, not negative effect on the wellbeing of the planet and life on it. They cover creating a sustainable agriculture policy for the whole world based on a deep understanding of how ecosystems work, as well as how we as a species can live in harmony with the planet and with one another. For those despairing at the state of the planet, Patrick offers hope and a practical way forward.
Fredrik Galtung has dedicated his career to redefining anti-corruption work, from top-down finger pointing to bottom-up promotion of integrity at a community level. He was the Founder President of Integrity Action which helps communities monitor and fix projects affecting millions of people. His new organisation, TrueFootprint, helps companies increase the return on investment of their sustainability projects by working with beneficiaries to collect data and take ownership of solutions to improve their lives.
He and Mel have a fascinating and deeply important conversation about corruption and integrity, and how empowering people to assess and improve the services they benefit from is the key to tackling corruption. For Fredrik, the key to a new, fairer economic system is measurement and metrics: if we measure, we can understand, improve and drive innovation.
Lily Lapenna is the founder and co-chair of MyBnk, which empowers young people to become financially literate and take charge of their futures by bringing money to life. Together with young people, they create innovative, high-impact and high-energy workshops on topics such as saving, budgeting, public finance, social enterprise and start-up entrepreneurship. Having established MyBnk in the UK and been instrumental in getting financial education into the UK curriculum, Lily now lives in the US where she lectures on social entrepreneurship and exploring the intersection between technology and social impact.
As well as discussing MyBnk's incredible work, Lily and Mel address many of the cornerstones to a new, fairer economic system. What is the role of retail and investment banks? How can we reset investor expectations so that they take all bottom lines - people, planet, profit - into consideration? How do we ensure that social impact is the main focus for technological innovation, and how can we use technological advances to disrupt unfair business models?
Our guest today is Tim Hanstad, the CEO of the Chandler Foundation, which invests in champions who are building healthy communities, vibrant marketplaces and strong nations for a more inclusive prosperity. He previously founded Landesa, which partners with governments, communities and other stakeholders to advance the land rights of the world’s poorest people, helping to alleviate poverty, reduce hunger and ease conflict.
Tim starts on an optimistic note: even though it often doesn’t feel like it, statistics show that in fact life has got better for many people across the world. Violence and the number of people living in poverty have decreased, while healthcare and literacy rates have both increased. On this basis, Tim feels that we should focus on fixing the current system, rather than replacing it with a new ism. He and Mel talk about the intersecting roles of business, government, charity and the individual in society, learning from other countries and why giving the world’s poorest people land rights can transform their lives.
Our guest this week is Kristine Pearson, the CEO of Lifeline Energy. They design, manufacture and distribute sustainable solar and wind-up radios and other media players to vulnerable populations who would otherwise not have access to important information and news broadcast on radio. The nature of their work means that they are also involved in a wide variety of fields including women’s empowerment, healthcare, education, the environment and financial inclusion.
The empowerment of women and local communities with representative, diverse leadership were important themes in Kristine and Mel’s discussion, and Kristine believes passionately that these are crucial in a future economic system that works for all. She also talked about hospitality and trust and how a lack of these, teamed with the rise in technology, has perhaps contributed to unhappiness in the western world. This is a wide-ranging conversation which Kristine illustrates with vivid anecdotes and insights from her fascinating career.
Our guest today is Pam Warhurst, the founder of Incredible Edible, an organisation which uses food to empower people to build stronger and more resilient communities. The concept starts with ‘propaganda gardens’ where people plant edible plants in unused public spaces. The creation of these gardens is a small act which triggers a wide range of other effects: creating conversation between people who might otherwise not have crossed paths, changing the way people relate to each other and community institutions, stimulating the local economy, and ultimately empowering people and communities to live more sustainably and take charge of their own futures.
Pam talks to Mel about the importance of a thriving local economy and how people are ‘magnificent’ and immensely adaptable, if given the opportunity to tap into their inherent entrepreneurial spirit. She is a great believer in the power of small actions to create not just change but a different kind of prosperity which is more in harmony with the planet. She also discusses the ways in which innovative, thoughtful and open-minded local government can be an important force for good, even in a time when budgets are decreasing.
Our guest today is Honey Thaljieh who is, in her own words, a Palestinian Arab Christian woman from Bethlehem who has played football all her life. The co-founder and first-ever captain of the Palestinian women’s national football team, she has broken through countless social, political and even physical barriers to become a role model for women in the Middle East and beyond. She is a powerful ambassador for the ability of sport to drive peace and equality.
A passionate advocate for women’s rights in the Middle East and across the world, it is no surprise that Honey believes that women must have equality and leadership roles in a new, more inclusive economic system - not just because they represent 50% of any country’s population, but because they bring important skills and perspectives to the table. She also talks about how we must tackle governments, hold them to account and protest peacefully to bring about change - and how that means that everyone must be educated in order to understand their rights and fight for them. This is a brilliant episode with a remarkable woman who is already working towards a better world.
Our guest today is Martyn Evans, the Chief Executive of the Carnegie Trust, which was founded in 1913 by Scottish-American industrialist Andrew Carnegie to improve the wellbeing of the people of the UK and Ireland. They deliver on this mission in many ways, including investing in public spaces, libraries, education, children’s rights, social work and rural development. This week, to coincide with World Kindness Day yesterday, they released the first ever quantitative survey on kindness in communities and public services.
Martyn talks to Mel about the importance of high quality jobs, how a new economic system needs to integrate ‘soft values’ - such as love, kindness, trust - and therefore how we need to learn to measure these values. Martyn goes onto discuss the power of philanthropy, and how he thinks governments can earn the trust of voters. We particularly love Martyn’s key piece of advice - talk to unusual friends. Find out what he means in the episode.
Our guest today is Paul Rice, the founder and CEO of Fair Trade USA, the largest certifier and provider of fair trade products in North America. Fair Trade is a global movement of people, organisations and producers who are committed to putting people and planet first by making the right choices. Based on the simple idea that the products people buy and sell are connected to the livelihoods of others, Fair Trade is a way to make a conscious choice for a better world.
Paul and Mel talk about the concept of ‘impact sourcing’, how we no longer have to choose between profit and responsibility, the tension between an increasingly globalised world and the fact that buying local resonates with so many as a good thing, how businesses are starting to move in the right direction and why Paul’s teenaged daughter gives him reason to be hopeful for the future of the planet!
Our guest today is Kyle Zimmer, the founder of American organisation First Book, which promotes equal education by ensuring that children in need have access to the books and resources they need. First Book works closely with its 400,000-strong member network and the publishing industry through a sustainable, market-driven model which makes books accessible and affordable to children from low-income families.
Kyle and Mel of course discuss the importance of a high quality education for all in a new economic system, but their discussion expands far beyond that as well. They cover the importance of exposure to not only your country’s own stories and traditions, but those of other nations and cultures as well; whether the First Book model can be applied across other industries and sectors; and the importance of the non-profit and for-profit sectors working hand-in-hand to create a better system that leaves no one behind.
Our guest this week is Rick Aubry, a leading American social innovator. He established Rubicon Programs to support homeless people and people with mental health issues in finding work and somewhere to live; his latest venture, New Foundry Ventures, is a laboratory that helps other social enterprises who tackling poverty and inequality in the US to scale. Rick is also training the next generation of social entrepreneurs through his work as a professor of social entrepreneurship at Tulane University.
In his conversation with Mel, Rick talks about why he thinks that reforming tax is one of the ways we can shape a fairer economic system, his thoughts on the tax versus philanthropy debate, how 'ok' for hundreds of millions is preferable to 'perfect' for tens of thousands - and much more.
Our guest today is Andreas Heinecke, a German social entrepreneur who has dedicated his career to dismantling barriers between 'us' and 'them' via human experience. The vision of his organisation, Dialogue Social Enterprise, is the social inclusion of marginalised people across the world.
Andreas and Mel talk about Andreas' work, the critical importance of social and emotional education and the role of social entrepreneurs in a more inclusive and empathetic future.
Today's episode is the first of our international conversations, where we will be talking to social innovators working outside the UK. Our guest this week is Martín Burt, who has dedicated his career to eliminating poverty, via his organisation Fundación Paraguaya and Poverty Stoplight, a poverty measurement tool and coaching methodology that empowers families to self-diagnose their unique needs and develop plans to lift themselves out of poverty.
Martín and Mel's conversation centres around how to not just reduce, but eliminate poverty globally by harnessing the power of technology, and the importance of ensuring that everyone is given the dignity of choice and a voice.
From next week, The New Ism is going global, with discussions with exciting social innovators from around the world. So for this short episode, Mel and Alex have taken the opportunity to reflect on what they've learned so far and on what's to come.
Our guest this week is Mairi Mackay, the Director of Social and Creative Economies at the British Council, where she seeks to develop more inclusive and sustainable economies and societies through innovative, cross-sectoral approaches. The British Council’s DICE programme, which Mairi leads, drives growth and progress on the UN’s sustainable development goals, with a particular focus on empowering women and girls, fostering youth employment, addressing inequality and supporting people with disabilities and other marginalised groups.
Mairi and Mel talk about creating the structure of a new ism based on social innovation - how to nurture a collaborative economy, changing the very definitions of ‘economics’ and ‘success’, and shifting more focus onto social and creative capital - not just financial capital.
Our guest this week is Chris Underhill, a serial social entrepreneur who has for the last 18 years focused on improving mental health care delivery across the world. He is the founder of numerous very successful social enterprises, including Basic Needs, which helps people living with mental illness to access the treatments they need, and most recently citiesRISE, which is committed to transforming mental health policy and practice in cities.
Chris talks with Mel about putting quality of life for all at the heart of a new ism, the need for intelligent design to combat loneliness and improve the lives of those living in cities, rethinking the definition of currency, and much more.
In the week that the World Social Enterprise Forum comes to Edinburgh, we talk to Laurence Demarco, who has played a key role in making Scotland a hub of social innovation. The co-founder of Senscot, which connects and supports social entrepreneurs across Scotland, he has dedicated his career to community development and local empowerment - which is how he and Mel met, back in the 1980s!
In their conversation, Laurence and Mel talk cover a lot of ground: local empowerment, a mutual economy that serves everyone, a maximum wage, the ideal country size and how older people have a valuable contribution to make to a new economic system.
Welcome to episode 11 of The New Ism podcast! This week, Mel talks to Baroness Mary Goudie, who has dedicated her career to advocating for women's rights and promoting gender equality. She works with organisations across the world to tackle exclusion, conflict and trafficking and, as a founding member of the 30% Club, she persuades and inspires companies to ensure that 30% of their board members are women.
Could we create a fairer economic system by having more women in positions of power? How do we stop the exploitation and trafficking of people around the world? What can we learn from religion for a New Ism? Should micro-finance replace the banking sector? Mel and Mary discuss these questions and more.
Welcome to episode 10 of The New Ism podcast! Our guest today is Professor Liz Grant, the Director of the Global Health Academy and Assistant Principal for Global Health at the University of Edinburgh.
Liz's expertise lies in health and she talks eloquently about how health - our greatest asset - should be put right at the centre of an economic system: if you put physical, emotional, spiritual and social health first, everything else - the health of the planet, community cohesion and productivity, to name just a few - will follow. She and Mel also examine the role of compassion in society and how, if we focus on nurturing compassion at a local level, the ripple effects will be felt globally.
Liz is truly positive about the outlook for the future of planet and people, and listening to this episode will leave you feeling hopeful and invigorated.
Our guest this week, David Greig, is the Artistic Director and joint Chief Executive of the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh. David is one of Scotland's most renowned playwrights; his work has taken him around the world and he always seeks to give a platform to a wide variety of voices. He has thought deeply on the subject of making the arts and culture a central pillar of meaningful democracy, in no small part due to their ability to create empathy and a sense of community. He discusses this and the concepts of home, belonging and identity in his thoughtful, fascinating conversation with Mel.
Our guest this week, Pip Wheaton, is the Director of Ashoka UK, an organisation which identifies and supports leading social entrepreneurs, and seeks to empower everyone to drive social change. She is also a social entrepreneur herself, so her perspective on the sector, coming as it does from both viewpoints, is really enlightening. Pip and Mel discuss the importance of community as the basis of a system that really works, how we can empower everyone to be a changemaker, how to scale social impact sustainably and measure that impact meaningfully, and why we need a system that incorporates safety nets and checks and balances.
In episode 7 of The New Ism, Mel talks to Dr. Andrew Murray, who is qualified in Sport and Exercise Medicine and General Practice, and currently works as an author, speaker and researcher, advocating for healthier and more active life for all. They discuss health as more than just the absence of disease, the importance of a sense of community and purpose for a healthier life, and a 4,300km jog...
Our guest this week is Professor Pamela Gillies, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University. She talks to Mel Young about how we can develop the skills needed for social change by making the UN's sustainable development goals (SDGs) the basis of education from nursery to university and beyond, Glasgow Caledonian's social enterprise initiatives in Glasgow and across the world, and exchanging social impact 'gifts' with Muhammad Yunus.
Our guest this week is Faisel Rahman, founder and managing director of Fair Finance, which offers a range of high quality, affordable financial products and services to those who would otherwise be financially excluded. He talks with Mel about scaling the impact of social enterprise, the importance of trust, and mitigating the issues that arise from a society that demands speed, not thought.
Our guest this week is John Elkington, Chairman and Chief Pollinator of Volans. John was a very early pioneer of corporate responsibility and sustainable development; he was the creator of the 'triple bottom line' concept - people, planet, profit. He talks with Mel about how to nurture a new generation of leaders who want to do the right thing, the role of business in a sustainable future for the planet, and how a paradigm shift will be necessary, but painful.
In episode 3 of The New Ism podcast, Mel talks to Michael Sani, founder and CEO of Bite the Ballot, which empowers and inspires young people to participate in democracy, thereby creating a new generation of leaders and change makers. In his wide-ranging conversation with Mel, Michael discusses the need for a different way of measuring success, a new approach to leadership and changing our shopping habits.
In episode 2 of The New Ism podcast, Mel Young talks to Dr. Katherine Trebeck of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance about what she believes should form the basis of a new economic system. She speaks about her vision for a world where politicians campaign on a promise of fewer nurses and police because we're healthier and safer, and the importance of opening up spaces for discussion so people can compare seemingly contrasting ideas.