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Karen's thoughts on the Social Economy

A Week of Immersion in Business, Social Ventures and Social Media!

Wednesday, 22nd August 2012

This past week I had the opportunity to attend the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Business Congress in Melbourne. (Thank you Michelle Haywood at VECCI)

It was a fabulous couple of days peppered with strong presentations from people of international repute.

Social Ventures Australia Consulting had a launch of their new quarterly digital magazine. This will present SVA consulting case studies and learnings in depth and tailored to an Australian audience. It has been modelled on the successful Stanford Social Innovation Review and will provide some rich content to practitioners in the sector..

See our article for more details. 

And here are some brief takeouts from the ACCI conference..

1. Laurel Papworth. The Community Crew. aka “Silk charm” – Laurel is a social media guru – listed in the 2012 Forbes 50 top Social Media Influencers globally – one of only 3 australians. 10/10 for presentation and content.

She says: there is a War building between the personal and public brand…. beware what you post!!
“You may choose to delete it, but because your friends have still got it tagged, you will be on the internet forever. PLUS facial recognition i.e Google Images has moved to a new level whereby it recognises you automatically if you are in ANY photos posted on the Internet.

Hence the public brand comment she made. “The implications of Google Images may well be that as you walk into a shop your face will be scanned and recognised, your tastes and activities pre-determined.”


Jeremy’s a 7/10. He has enormous energy – he crowdsources online the major trends coming from around the world.

Fast fact: 85% of viral videos on YouTube views are embedded in other people's websites i.e not on Youtube

He says the cultural connection with your customers makes a love brand. Know your customers
and turn your customers into advocates. Your Insights come from watching your customers. Read that to also mean donors and supporters.

Top (and surprising) crowdsourced trends:

Digital eating interactive tables
Pop culture vacations
Retail from the past
Virtual fashion
Experiential advertising
Social fitness
Instant entrepreneurship
Superhero reality
Digi -tail
Plastic rebellion
Social business
Digital graffiti

See his site for deeper explanations

Ken Henry is the ex-head of Federal Treasury and his every sentence is full of intellect.

He also offered some interesting take-outs:

20% of Australian have a parent born in another country. The percentage of people with parents coming from China is now more than the UK. He says the potential benefits for Australia are substantial. Cultural historical language skills will give us the skills we need to possess Asia-relevant capabilities. Having the appropriate cultural understanding in languages other than English will be of long term benefit to Australia’s prosperity.

Aussies are increasingly visiting Asia as tourists. Nearly a third of people who emigrate go to live in Asia.

Muhammad Yunus – of Grameen Bank fame – is “Banker to the Poor” – and Nobel Peace Prize winner with 50 honorary degrees from Universities around the world, (pipping Rosabeth Moss Kantor – who was another speaker – at 23 Honorary degrees) – the new Nelson Mandela me thinks.

Totally into Social Business (right where Pro Bono Australia is) and is setting up a global movement about them with a conference in Vienna later this year …

An amazing man who started as an Economics lecturer which didn’t give him the kicks he needed and took on the whole world financial system by creating microenterprise lending to the poorest of the poor in his home country of Bangladesh and didn’t stopped there in transforming banking lending practices. He started off with a $27 loan to 42 families. Grameen now has 2,564 branches, with 19,800 staff serving 8.29 million borrowers in 81,367 villages. Most recently Grameen opened in the USA lending sums of $1,500 to individuals and enterprises there and getting the same high level of repayment (approx 98%) as in Bangladesh.


Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard University and Richard Hames – Futurist and Philosopher, were two other standouts. Rossabeth spoke of winners and winning and what it does for your team and Richard spoke of – surprisingly – the future! Both terrific and worth reading about more in depth.

See article about Rosabeth Moss Kanter here and here and also about  Richard Hames here

Karen Mahlab AM is the Founder and CEO of Pro Bono Australia. In 2015 she was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for her contribution to the Not for Profit sector and philanthropic initiatives.
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