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Don’t complain, solve it


Don’t complain, solve it


Azerbaijan | Baku


I spent more than 3 years in Malaysia, which is one of the most active countries in terms of social entrepreneurship – says Jasur Hasanov, Head Coach and Director at Social Innovation Lab. - I finished many workshops and training there, trying to learn more about social business. I built lots of connections. In 2016 I came back to Azerbaijan. I started to organize events to pass my knowledge and experience to others. We ran two Social Entrepreneurship Boot Camps –full day events. Most of the participants have never heard about social entrepreneurship. Firstly, we explain the concept, then we present different social problems of Azerbaijan. They choose which problem they want to work on. Using Design Thinking they try to find solutions and put them into Business Model Canvas. Then, we teach participants how to make a speech, they pitch in front of a jury which comes at the end of the camp to listen and give feedback. The most passionate teams, interested in taking the idea into a more practical stage, are invited to the incubation program.

We met few of their start-ups during the workshops prepared for Social Innovation Lab. They are all created by university students, who have the chance to experience how opening a social business looks like.

Social Innovation Lab supports for example Papillon, which does upcycling or, as they call it, artcycling. They already started to generate revenue. They had one exhibition, where they sold more than half of their items. Four members of the team are students, now they start to collaborate also with ten volunteers. Another, quite new start-up called Mirvari store, uses old clothes to produce bags. Learn for Change, next of our start-ups, offers different kinds of classes, for example Russian language or driving lessons, for a low price, accessible for other students. They donate 25% of the revenue to people living in the street.

Jasur himself has his own social start-up.

My start-up is called BeBonobo. Bonobos are the most generous animals in the world. They like to expand their social network and make new friends and they do it through sharing food – bananas and apples. They share not with bonobos from their own community, but with strange bonobos. Our name is BeBonobo, so Be as Bonobo. We encourage people to share. Do you know freecycling? People share free stuff with each other, there are many platforms which allow that. Our concept is similar, but we try to make the experience more user-friendly. On our website you can find free stuff in the nearest locations. If you want to give your stuff, there are two options: you can give it for free or for a tree. If you take the tree option, the person who wants that particular thing needs to pay 3$ to the platform and we plant a tree, using this money. We’ve already planted 18 of them. For the moment we suspended the tree option and focused first on explaining people the concept of freesharing. It's going really well.

And what is it needed to make it go well?

Start from “why”: why do you want to do it? If you do something which is not connected to your values, you will give up quite soon. First, define your values. And then put them into practice. We have a saying in Azerbaijani: Don't complain, solve it. So many people complain but they do nothing to solve any problem. Complaining about problems you cannot solve is a waste of time. Instead, find the problem you can solve and do something about it.


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