HUB Helsinki co-hosted event
The initiative to co-create an event with the HUB Helsinki appeared in early spring 2010 when we visited Sami Oinonen for a chat. Well he listened to us telling the Pamoja story and our establishment in East Africa and then he simply opened up his calendar and suggested us to co-host an event on cleantech. We really did not know what to expect from a visit to the proto space of HUB Helsinki, but this sounded like a cool thing.
The planning of the event was a quite long process from thinking only cleantech we started to shift focus towards sustainable business in Bottom of the Pyramid markets. When we picked up this idea after the summer, this made a lot of sense. The week we had scheduled for the event was full of events touching upon the same subject. There was the TEKES workshop on cleantech business in BoP markets, there was the Mobile Brain Bank event on Mobile Business in Africa, and then Nordic Africa Days in Turku as well.
We simply decided to attend all events and pitch, as well as run our co-hosted event at the HUB. And it was a great week all together. So many inspiring meetings with people with shared interests and believes. Moreover, it was the first time that we published our new concept on rural electrification, which we call “Sprouts of Sustainability”.
It’s a technical solution combining solar and bio-energy to provide a decentralized energy system for rural electrification, additionally we strive to combine the technical part with a step-by step model for sustainable development, where we empower local entrepreneurs to run new businesses. It’s a system approach so to say.
It was a great opportunity to get feedback from a lot of insightful people in the field. And must I was positively surprised with the feedback we got. Many interesting contacts made during the evening.
Furthermore, it was most interesting to have the chance to listen to the rest of the speakers during the evening. Sami spoke about the Hub community, and I must say I love the concept of open minded people coming together to make a difference and act together worldwide for social innovations. I’m a HUB fan.
Paula Linna introduced the Aalto university research group on Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility. It was great to get a dive into BoP research through her and it was new to me that the BoP as a research topic is such a new field of study and has caught such an interest since the book The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid by C.K. Prahalad published as late as 2004.
Teija Lehtonen spoke about a new network for sustainable and user-driven innovation. And in my view this is exactly what needs to be done. Cross-sectoral partnerships and communication is really key for sustainability. And to tap into the opportunities of the BoP markets its a multi-stakeholder resilient process which uses resources available efficiently. Teija mentioned this as user-driven innovation.
Peter Kuria Githinji from the Shalin Ry discussed practical views on how to solve the grass-root problems and do it in a sustainable way. And I must say I admire Peter’s insightful views on what really works and what does not work in East African communities both business wise or from a developmental perspective.
Eric Coatanea from the Aalto University Product complemented the speakers with a more critical perspective today’s movement towards sustainability. He put out the question if mankind strives for an utopia of sustainability and also raised the question whether such sustainability hysteria could be used in false means. I think Eric raised an extremely important question, even though I strongly believe the economic system can be streamlined to live in balance with the global ecosystem that we all depend on.
Pekka Haavisto, Finnish Parliamentarian from the Green League, finished with an interesting presentation which was based on his EVA report. He pinpointed some of the most intriguing facts of why he believes Africa faces a brighter future and he states that there is some major factors that makes it urgent for Finland also to be part of something like a new wave of opportunities for business in many of the emerging African nations.