The Editors' Post: Stories about collaboration from EVPA's Impact Week

At EVPA's Impact Week we hear from social entrepreneurs and investors about collaborating for impact. This week's view from the Pioneers Post newsroom.

Collaboration and diversity are necessary to uncover blindspots in knowledge and thinking to deliver equitable impact. That was the message from Shiva Dustdar, head of the European Investment Bank Institute, to open EVPA’s Impact Week. 

Around 900 members of the international impact community were in Turin from 22 to 24 November to explore an overarching theme of ‘impact together’. While ideas of partnership and inclusivity were enthusiastically embraced by attendees, processes and methods were scrutinised and interrogated in a way which demonstrated the community’s hard-earned lessons. 

At a session on the role of corporates in the impact ecosystem, attendees were asked about their experiences of collaborations with businesses. The word cloud produced from their answers included “complicated”, “unbalanced” and “challenging”, alongside more positive reflections like “high potential”, “innovative” and “insightful”. During a later session, Aglaé Touchard Le Drian emphasised that it was crucial to find a common impact language to make these “David with Goliath” collaborations work and avoid the risk of greenwashing. 

I hadn’t expected toasters to be a focus at the event, but that’s exactly what we got during a session on how partnerships fuel impact in design.

The venue itself is an example of collaboration for impact. OGR Torino was a late 19th-century industrial complex planned for demolition before Fondazione CRT took it over and transformed it into a culture and innovation hub with an emphasis on sustainability, historical value and accessibility. The steel pillars, exposed brickwork and contemporary design certainly made for a dramatic setting for discussions that included building resilient cities, catalytic capital and regulation. 

I hadn’t expected toasters to be a focus at the event, but that’s exactly what we got during a session on how partnerships fuel impact in design. Bas Van Abel, founder of Fairphone, used Thomas Thwaites’ toaster project to highlight that we can’t build even simple technology like a toaster without collaboration, as well as the level of extraction of natural resources necessary to create basic products. 

I attended Impact Week with my colleague Julie Pybus, whose story from the event covers how speakers across the sessions addressed a question posed by EVPA chair Leslie Johnson: “how can investing for impact be an effective way to address the challenges we are facing?” Several speakers reflected on the “anti-woke, anti-ESG” narrative gaining ground in recent election results in the Netherlands and Argentina. 

As a new reporter at Pioneers Post, this was my first time meeting the impact community en masse. It was striking that, despite the political mood music and global polycrisis, the atmosphere remained positive and focussed on how to bring about systems change and societal transformation. At the end of the day we heard from Tiffany Tong, Maryanne Gichanga and Daniella Araujo, women social entrepreneurs whose projects are delivering impact across the world. I’m already looking forward to next year’s Impact Week in Bilbao and catching up with Tiffany, Maryanne and Daniella about how their work is going. 



WISE100 Women in Social Enterprise Awards 2024 open for nominations

The annual WISE100 awards, created by Pioneers Post in partnership with NatWest Social & Community Capital, are now open for nominations. In addition to our top 100 list, five awards will be announced at a special celebration event planned for March 2024. Nominations close at midnight on Sunday 14 January 2024.


Why UK social investment needs more reform

While Julie and I were in Turin, our colleague Estelle Uba was reporting from a round table conference in London on access to social investment for black, racialised and diverse communities, hosted by social economy consultancy For Business Sake. Read about how Lord Victor Adebowale condemned the slow pace of change in UK social investment in Estelle’s story

This week's top stories

‘We need black leaders leading black funds’: Victor Adebowale condemns slow pace of change in UK social investment

Beware the anti-woke narrative: EVPA’s Impact Week focuses on the power of impact investors to create positive change

Come with us to ImpactFest: Our reporter, Estelle Uba, explores The Netherlands’ ‘impact city’ The Hague and meets the changemakers who gathered at this year’s ImpactFest

Top photo: Jana Bour, head of policy & EU partnerships at EVPA, leads a session at Impact Week 2023