Half-way through the 2018 GATHER Fellowship for conflict transformation
Social innovators from communities affected by conflict in the Middle East, South Asia, the US and Europe, are all part of the one-year GATHER Fellowship we’re running together with US non-profit Seeds of Peace. Its focus on conflict transformation and dialogue, combined with social entrepreneurship makes it a unique programme, with truly inspiring and passionate social innovators working with some of the most difficult subjects and political systems.
The 2018 Fellowship has passed the half-year mark so we’re taking the opportunity to look back, whilst also aiming for further developments and increased social impact. When kicking off the incubator we hosted in Stockholm in the beginning of March, we immediately realised we had a truly special group of 16 Fellows – selected from 250 applicants from 55 countries. Their work ranges from educational video games to art-based trauma workshops, from fighting gender violence to building affordable solar energy solutions in Gaza, but they are all making a social, economic or political impact whilst transforming conflict in their communities.
Following the incubator week, where the Fellows took part in workshops, study visits, and one-to-one coaching, we have continued our support through online coaching and virtual learning sessions. We have, together with our Seeds of Peace partners, gathered the Fellows online from their various places in the world, to take part in skill sharing sessions, expert sessions and entrepreneurship workshops. The support continues throughout the Fellowship and we have really enjoyed seeing how the Fellows have had such pleasure in interacting with the group that they are even running informal online gatherings outside of the ordinary programme!
This strong sense of collaboration between the participants is something we have seen from all our programmes, where entrepreneurs, despite their differences, can benefit from the peer-to-peer element of the programme. In this particular group, they are from different parts of the world, sometimes even from cultural and religious backgrounds that don’t always get along, but they share a passion to create social change, which goes a long way.
“I feel we serve as a support network for each other. It can be super tiring and discouraging to do something like what we do, and having people whom I can share our little successes and failures with is very helpful for me.”
– 2018 GATHER Fellow
The dedication and passion from the Fellows with a focus on developing their initiatives and growing their social impact has already seen results. One Fellow, Majd from Gaza, was announced as one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2018 for her work creating building blocks from recycled local materials, and Yo’av has run a successful crowdfunding campaign over the summer to provide solar power to communities without electricity. The collaboration efforts amongst the participants have also resulted in Anis and Pooja launching a book together – “The Role of Art in Peacebuilding”.
So far, the Fellowship has provided the participants with increased business and social impact knowledge, a widened network and a strengthened community of changemakers. The development of new relationships has been built on personal connection, professional development and shared learnings, and this is something we will continue to build on, up until the closing ceremony in Athens in December, but also afterwards through the alumni network.
Our partnership with Seeds of Peace has been a journey of collaboration, passion and new learnings, and it’s a journey we’ve very much enjoyed and that we hope we can continue to build on. We are also very grateful for the financial support we’ve received from Postkodstiftelsen, and the exceptional support during the incubator from the likes of Sigtunastiftelsen, Eliasson Group, Fryshuset, the Swedish Parliament House, Norrsken House, and the great people on our Impact Team.
The 2019 GATHER Fellowship has just opened for applications so head over here to apply or pass on to someone who is working to create social change in areas affected by conflict.
If you or your company would like to know more about the programme or how you could be involved and support our social entrepreneurs, then you’re more than welcome to get in touch with us directly.
Photo credit: Stina Svanberg www.stinasvanberg.com