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Social Change, Social Innovation

The Next Era of Social Change: Uncovering Human Capacity

A few months ago, I was invited to be a part of a discussion with a group of social innovators from around the world discussing about what we believe is going to be a trigger for a massive global transformation. We call this the Emergent Transformation. It’s going to change how humans do thing, especially young people, utilising technology to its maximum potential.


Credit Librarian by Day

I have often spoken about acknowledging human as an individual full of potentials, and that we have more resources than we think we do. We are more hyperconnected than we have ever been but many of us still view these hyperconnections as mere relationships. We live in an incredibly small world – the more people we know, the smaller the world become. If you look at this hyperconnectedness, it seems as though its just a big ball of connections, but if we actually map the skills, talents and resource that each of this connection that we have access to, we will unveil some incredible asset that we have access to right at the palm of our hands.


This is exactly how multilevel marketers make their money – in fact, a multilevel marketer once told me, if you scroll through your mobile phone and call each of your contacts, you’ll be surprised by the amount of assets that you actually have. And tapping into our networks isn’t new either if we know about Asset-based Community Development (ABCD). Asset-based community development (ABCD) is a methodology that seeks to uncover and utilize the strengths within communities as a means for sustainable development. The basic tenet is that a capacities-focused approach is more likely to empower the community and therefore mobilize citizens to create positive and meaningful change from within.


And based on ABCD, Nathaniel Whittemore, blogger on Social Entrepreneurship at Change.org is working on a start-up called Assetmap, an online platform that helps individuals discover and leverage resources directly from the community around them.


We’re also seeing more and more innovation in this area when it comes to start-ups, collaborative projects and entrepreneurship. People are tapping into their social capital to help make things happen, take for example, To Mama With Love. It’s a collaborative art project put together by a group of over 70 individuals from all around the world from Editor of Social Edge to an ordinary young person like me! All 70 individuals were invited, and is friends with Stacey Monk, founder of Epic Change.


We’re also seeing startups like Supercool School that seeks to challenge the traditional view of education being dominated and only accessible through structured institutions. There’s also PlanBig, an online platform for people to share their ideas and make them happen. PlanBig is a great place to crowdsource resources, ideas, thoughts and feedback from its online community to launch your idea.


We’re seeing a shift, and we have to create a shift of thinking of social networks for social good. How are we able to leverage these connections so that people can get better access to knowledge, resources and wisdom to bridge the gaps in addressing social issues. We need to think about how can we unleash these human capacity we have access to and look at collaboration in new ways. We need to view each individual as unique and has something to contribute. We need to break down the barriers we have to more meaningful collaboration and ways of working together, whether directly or indirectly. It is at this convergences that we see the best of innovations occurring.


However, there still lack a brand for this form of rhizomatic ways of working and I believe given a brand to these projects, enterprises, startups or organisations will allow us to study this new ventures better. It will also make visible the process of these ventures, and allow better publicity, understanding and access for us to bring this ventures forward.


I believe that these kind of ventures will dominate the ways startup work and how we organise social change in the future. We will see a lot more social innovations in this sphere and its worth keeping an eye out. It will also change the way traditional organisations work, especially how they engage their audiences. It also holds a lot of potential in the ways we look at addressing social issues and creating a sustainable world.


It will contribute to the already shifting ways of value creation and perception of “value” in a highly social and online world. Their ventures aren’t about the money or how to earn money, its about how can we add value to improving human lives.


So, keep an eye our for this sphere (what we call Emergent Transformation) – check out the blog – and if you like to read more about this, its worth watching these videos and visiting these sites:






New Era of Human Capacity Startups by Nathaniel Whittemore


Implications of Startups That Exist to Maximize Abundant Social Capital Instead of Scarce Economic Capital by Max Marmer


  • http://www.communityorganizer20.com/ Debra Askanase

    Ehon – I hadn’t heard of the ABCD term, but it makes all the sense in the world for me. One other great example: Twestival. Read the story of how Amanda started it with a few of her friends here: http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/microphilthanthropy/

  • Anonymous

    Hi Debra – Twestival is definitely a great example I totally forgot! :) I only found out about ABCD last year!

  • edward harran

    Amazing Ehon.
    Well Done

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Eddie! :)

  • http://twitter.com/StaceyMonk StaceyMonk

    digging the term ABCD ;) and you’re too kind to include To Mama ;) We’ll be gearing up to create a network of gratitude in November…hope you’re in!!

  • Anonymous

    I am definitely in, Stacey! :) To Mama was totally worth mentioning!

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