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The RSA has supported the ASEAN Impact Challenge for three years since its inception. For the its third cycle, we are seeking Fellows who have expertise and experience of running social impact businesses to mentor innovative projects. Sharda Vishwanathan, Project Manager of the ASEAN Impact Challenge, shares how the Challenge underlines the power of collaborations to create shared value for transforming communities and scaling impact.

For many, an inclusive society where every individual is empowered and has access to rights and resources is often a utopian idea. But with countries and institutions adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, there have been concerted efforts towards building an inclusive, sustainable and resilient future for people and planet.

We live in a world that is faced with numerous unmet social needs. Sustainable development cannot be achieved unless there is a sustained effort to address these challenges across all three spheres- social, economic and environment. And this cannot be accelerated unless we involve organisations across sectors and work with people at varied levels and across communities. In other words, when one talks about transforming societies and creating an impact towards building a better world, no one sector can lead this transformation.

The ASEAN Impact Challenge

Sustainable Development Goal 17 calls for Partnerships for the Goals. To translate goals into action, it underlines the need to forge strong and inclusive partnerships at every level. In the recent years, social innovation has been successful in harnessing the power of collaborations to transform communities at the local, national and regional level. And this has been the bedrock of the ASEAN Impact Challenge , a regional programme to discover innovators and entrepreneurs from Southeast Asia who are accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals through cross-sector partnerships and disruptive innovations. Launched in 2015, the ASEAN Impact Challenge is now in its third cycle. With having established over 55 cross-sector partnerships and having discovered over 720 innovations from 2,800 innovators and facilitated the acceleration of 50 winning teams, the ASEAN Impact Challenge underlines the power of collaborations to create shared value for transforming communities and scaling impact.

With Inclusive Innovations as the theme for 2017, the ASEAN Impact Challenge seeks to build pathways to support purpose-driven individuals and businesses to unlock possibilities to transform societies. Having worked closely with the participants of the ASEAN Impact Challenge as well as the various stakeholders- government, business, academia and the civil society, we have had the opportunity to see how cross-sector collaborations act as a catalyst to develop an ecosystem and create impact for a living. While such partnerships help maximise resources, partners benefit from each other’s expertise while also learning from each other’s experiences. Modelled on the highly successful impact accelerator framework, the Global Goals Labs, developed by Scope Group, a Southeast Asian-based social innovation advisory group, served as an enabler to facilitate this knowledge transfer and support innovators to scale, increase their reach and work towards deepening their impact.

Collaboration: the new wave of social impact

Building capacities and catalysing human capital is an important aspect of social change especially when working with organisations at the local level. It is imperative to work with organisations working at the grassroots and implementing projects at the local level to be involved when identifying challenges and delivering solutions. Often small organisations find scaling their project and magnifying their impact a huge challenge due to lack of resources. It is here that collaborations can play a very valuable role as they help bring the much-needed skills and resources to the table. Further, partnerships also help two similar organisations connect with each other and explore ways in which they can address the challenge without duplicating their efforts.The Global Goals Labs framework helps in building that synergy by connecting the local ventures to partners at the national and regional level and facilitating a bottom-up approach that facilitates participation at every level.

Today as we stand at a juncture where our needs and challenges are changing and evolving every second, innovative ideas and solutions are the need of the minute. And collaboration has the power to not just bring ideas together but also translate them into action for change.

Become a mentor

The RSA has supported the ASEAN Impact Challenge for three years since its inception. For the Challenge’s third cycle, we are seeking Fellows who have expertise and experience of running social impact businesses to mentor innovative projects. If you would like the opportunity to nurture what could be the next greatest innovation in Southeast Asia, then check out the finalists and become a mentor. You could support a team in their journey to solving some of the greatest challenges identified in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Whether it’s an Internet of Things device that helps shrimp farmers minimise the risk of harvest failure in Indonesia, or an education-to-employment online platform that connects students to universities and then to job opportunities in the Philippines, your time and expertise are invaluable in helping the finalists scale their projects and magnify their impact.  

If you would like to mentor a project, or want to further details about what this opportunity would entail, contact global@rsa.org.uk to find out more.


 The ASEAN Impact Challenge is a programme designed and delivered by Scope Group in partnership with 35 partners around Southeast Asia

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