This is a report for SUNconference: Social Economy for Ukraine, an innovative online conference held on May 17–24, 2023. Over 40 social entrepreneurs, foundations, policymakers, and activists joined to discuss and collaborate on topics related to social projects and social entrepreneurship, AI as a public good, Web3 for the social economy, the future of Ukraine's image in the world, and mental health among others.
The main purpose of the SUNconference was to build connections and discuss problems and solutions related to the social economy in Ukraine. As well as fundraising scholarships for young leaders engaged in projects supporting Ukraine and Ukrainians with work opportunities, employment, and social economy.
The open space format enabled participants to co-create the agenda and actively engage in shaping the event. Ideas for the agenda were proposed through a registration form, and further discussions and inquiries took place in dedicated WhatsApp and Telegram groups. Participants had the opportunity to propose webinars, workshops, networking sessions, project showcases, and other activities through which they could contribute and share their expertise. It was facilitated by the Future of Work initiative and the SUN Leaders Program.
The conference focused on exploring the challenges and opportunities created by the war's impact and mass migration in Ukraine. Building upon the research “How to Create Better Labor Market Conditions for Migrant Ukrainians” conducted by the "Future of Work" team, which analysed key issues and potential solutions for the social economy. The conference aimed to review best practices and identify remaining gaps that require attention.
Social Economy is all about thinking beyond just profit and measuring success based on People, Planet, and Profit. It’s an economic model that prioritizes social and environmental objectives over profit maximization. It's a framework that can help us rebuild our society in a more equitable and sustainable way. The social economy is formed by a rich diversity of enterprises and organisations, such as cooperatives, mutuals, associations, foundations, social enterprises and paritarian institutions, sharing common values.
The SUNconference used an open space format, allowing participants to co-create the agenda and actively engage in shaping the event. Attendees had the opportunity to propose webinars, workshops, networking sessions, project showcases, and other activities through which they could contribute and share their expertise.
Although unconferences are typically conducted in person, this event was held online via Zoom, allowing participants from different locations to join. The agenda was flexible and determined by the attendees at the start of the program. Ideas for the agenda were proposed through a registration form, and further discussions and inquiries took place in a dedicated WhatsApp group.
The conference had specific goals for various stakeholders:
- Social Entrepreneurs: Retaining, supporting, and developing current teams, attracting qualified applicants, optimising costs and time, developing strategic intelligence, building reputation and employer brand, and delivering needs and proposals to government officials.
- Policy Makers: Getting to know key players in the industry, learning ideas for better policymaking during the post-war transition, meeting future policymakers, and familiarizing Ukraine and foreign organizations with current and future policies.
- NGOs and Foundations: Meeting potential partners and grantees, updating frameworks and approaches, gaining insights on Ukraine, and expanding their ecosystem and systems thinking.
- Activists: Enhancing understanding of donors' approaches, connecting with potential donors, collaborating with other leaders on projects, securing work and funding opportunities for communities, and highlighting social issues and weak spots to government officials.
- Social projects and social entrepreneurship
- Coordination & Leadership
- AI as a public good and national strategic industry for the UA social economy and beyond
- Web 3 for the Social Economy
- The Future of Ukraine's Image in the World
- Mental Health
- Coaching for Business and NGO Leaders for their Resilience and Growth
- International Communication for post-victory Ukraine: partners, diaspora and new Ukrainians
- Ukrainian Resistance Art
- Charter Cities in Ukraine
- Plunder or Persephone
- Supra-conscious. Support for material and sub-material Problems
- Social economy for Russia (and positive peace for the world) + The Ukrainian path: role of Russia and the West
- Discovering potential for self-realization with in-depth methods
- Role of metaphysics and meta-psychology in web3
- Loss of strategic reserves of underground water horizons
- Platforms for connecting people with work
- Bridging Ukrainians abroad with those who stayed
- A number of new connections emerged in the network between participants, including a partnership with Social Economy Ukraine with which a database of SE organisations will be conducted
- Skills in communication (like facilitation, English, engagement, presentation, conflict resolution and conference organisation) were improved among the org team and participants
- A database of relevant organizations and contacts was gathered
- Mental support was provided for a few activists
- Desire to drive further the connections and topics of discussion
- A number of social economy projects ready for incubation
The event was organised by Support Ukraine Now (SUN) – a network of Ukrainian and international activists. Our mission is to engage the network of leaders in supporting Ukraine. We work on providing the most effective help to Ukraine, in immediate response and rebuilding, by enabling foreign and local individuals and organisations to help. The teams behind:
- Future of Work – initiative since 2020 researching the trends affecting work like inclusivity, migration, mental health and mobile economy
- SUN Leaders Program – a community program that unleashes leadership via fellowship and scholarship to local activists working on the crisis relief and SDG goals in Ukraine.
It took 2 months and ~250 hours in total to prepare, not including the conference itself (10-20 hours on average per participant).
Based on the feedback of the participants
- Diversity of topics and people
- A moment of surprise: unconference format offers an opportunity to discuss several topics within hours, stimulates a proactive approach and flexibility of the Miro format
- A variety of topics, presentations, and participants (personal and their areas of work)
- Drive, passion, and energy
- Networking matches between people
- Learning to organize this type of event & onboarding people from different backgrounds
What could be improved for future events:
- Professional translation services between English and Ukrainian (the team facilitated some of the translations, but could be better, including AI assistants)
- More time – due to a week timeframe and high interest to arrange session every day there was 3-4 hours of content including the weekend.
- Participation rates could be higher, 10-40% of the registered people participated in different sessions
- Go deeper into key topics identified based on SDGs with dedicated experts in the upcoming month to learn more and identify young leaders
- SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being
- SDG 4: Quality Education
- SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
- SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
- SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
- SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
- SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals
- Launch of the Leaders program at the start of 2024 with funding from the Erasmus+ program
We want to say a huge “thank you” to all SUNconference participants, team members, and everyone who works towards a better future for Ukraine!