“Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish, or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry” were the words of Bill Drayton, founder of Ashoka, the largest network of social innovators in the world, when he accepted the Prince of Asturias Prize in 2011. Drayton referred to business projects that, while being economically profitability, contributed to the improvement of society. Companies belonging to the so-called third sector, which account for 12.5% of GDP in Spain, employ 2.2 million workers and benefit more than 16.5 million people involved in their activities in one way or another.
Social enterprises already have their niche in the Spanish entrepreneurial fabric and attract more and more young people with a clear social vocation, supporters of an alternative business model that uses technology as a raw material for its initiatives.
Eduskopia: towards the correct use of social networks
Until very recently Lisandro Caravaca was a student of Translation and Interpretation with a preference for training and education. At 23 years of age and after finishing a Master’s Degree in Community Management and Social Networks, he established Eduskopia, a company dedicated to digital education. “We are trying to reduce the digital divide that exists between parents, teenagers, teachers, companies… We have training for all of them based on digital literacy, lifelong learning, knowledge management and culture”, explains Caravaca, who is responsible for the designing and managing the courses and publications on the website and on social networks beyond Eduskopia.
Eduskopia is working to achieve greater knowledge and awareness in society regarding the correct use of technology. They offer digital education workshops for parents, students, organisations and teachers, educational marketing, the organisation of meetings and conferences and digital literacy workshops for the elderly. The company is also preparing new projects, such as the prevention of addiction to technology (techno-addiction) in children and adults through individual, group and family therapy sessions, and intensive prevention and detoxifying sessions…
Regarding future plans, Caravaca has a very clear idea; establish alliances with Latin American countries, such as Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Bolivia and Ecuador where the technology sector has great potential for growth and where young people use social networks on a massive scale while also using their mobile phones for entertainment.
MalariaSpot: eradicating malaria click by click
Every 30 seconds a child dies from malaria somewhere in the world; this is a disease that between 350 and 500 million people contract each year, 90% in Africa. A disease that also contributes to children developing anaemia, one of the main causes of stunted growth and development. While on one side of the planet, thousands of people die from malaria, on the other thousands of people play video games. This led the researcher of the Polytechnic University of Madrid and young social entrepreneur, Miguel Luengo-Oroz to have an idea, three years ago. Something that would seem impossible, linking these two situations through MalariaSpot.
MalariaSpot is an online game which consists in finding all black points you can inside an image in one minute. As easy as can be. Either from your computer or your mobile phone (the App for Android is called MalariaSpot, and for iPhone and iPad, Malaria Hunter), the ‘malaria hunter’ detects the parasites that cause this disease in real digitised blood samples, which can save a tremendous amount of work for health workers doing routine work to diagnose malaria throughout the world. The sample will have several dark spots, but only some are malaria parasites. If the spot captured is one of them, the player wins a point.
The project has involved three years of work and has proven that “the more people playing, the faster the diagnoses. The time taken is always less than a specialist would need”. This summer, it was tested in Mozambique, in collaboration with the Manhiça Health Research Centre and with the support of the Ashoka Foundation. Researchers uploaded samples from patients with symptoms of malaria so that people, anywhere in the world, could see them and analyse them. They had results back in only fifteen minutes.
Cienciaterapia (Sciencetherapy): making children in hospital smile
In the kitchen at home. This is where Sciencetherapy was developed. It is a science awareness project for children in hospital and aims to make their stay more entertaining and promote scientific vocations. Two years ago, when Jesus Ángel Gómez, a chemistry student, was preparing an exam, his niece asked him to do an experiment with household materials. Just as if it were magic, the girl was thrilled with the result. Using pipettes, test tubes and cylinders Gómez began to visit hospitals in his home town of Huelva organising chemistry workshops for children and their families.
The experiment gradually reached more hospitals and became Sciencetherapy, an initiative that he is coordinating and that has attracted the support of more volunteer “sciencetherapists” who are working to “bring science to children to enable them and their families to have a bit of fun and learn something”, he explains.
Gómez is now working to create new sciencetherapy equipment that can replicate the initiative in other hospitals in other cities and make the project sustainable. For now, it is surviving thanks to sponsors and money prizes.