Social innovation, defined by the Center for Social Innovation at Stanford University as producing more effective, efficient and sustainable solutions to social problems, has gained even more importance in companies with the COVID-19 pandemic that entered our lives in 2020.
Social innovation is the process of developing and implementing effective solutions to systemic social and environmental problems, often to support social progress. Due to the multi-layered nature of social issues, innovative solutions can be found if individuals from different disciplines come together and bring different perspectives to the table. Solutions often require the active collaboration of government, private sector and nonprofit organizations.
Social innovation is finding a solution to a social need of society in a better way than existing solutions. With the proposed solution, it is aimed that the individuals in the society develop their skills more and use environmental resources more efficiently.
Social innovation can touch only one point of a social need of the society, it can also create new systems. To give an example of this:
- The Facebook translation application called Tarjimly serves to bring together asylum seekers and volunteer translators wherever they are in the world. Asylum seekers who need help for doctors, healthcare professionals, lawyers or other important services can get real-time translations via Facebook Messenger.
- Vodafone has built an innovative ambulance taxi service in rural areas of Tanzania using mobile phones. With this service, when pregnant women call the helpline in an emergency, the system finds the nearest taxi and directs it to the person in need. In this way, pregnant women can be brought to hospitals in a short time in regions where there are few ambulances.
Social innovations can be developed by an individual or an institution. NGOs working on the problem, opinion leaders or large companies operating in this sector play a key role in the spread of this solution. For this reason, being in constant communication with the organizations in the sector while working on social innovation can make a significant difference in the acceptance of the solution by the society.