INTRODUCING SOCIAL ENTERPRISE CONSULTANT #20 – PAUL VAN DAMME

Shanghai, Paris and London. Three cities in which I have lived and loved thoroughly. Three cities where I’ve applied my trade as a Strategic planner these last 8 years.

I’ve lived a very nomadic lifestyle from a young age and as I sit here writing this profile I wonder why it is I still keep moving. The best answer I can come up with is curiosity. An insatiable curiosity to discover new cultures and new people.

It’s this same curiosity that makes my job interesting for me. As planner in an ad agency I spend this morning working on a new way to talk about beer quality, and the afternoon running an innovation workshop for an Armed Forces charity. I’ve worked on anything from small enterprise solutions to toilet cleaners. Yep… people need both… and my job consists of helping companies define the opportunity, working with our creatives to come up with innovative ideas, setting up the right programme, and all the way to a measurement of success.

So what about social enterprise? I think the seed was planted 7 years ago when my brother gave me a book called ‘Fortune at the bottom of the pyramid’. I’ve done a few charity projects in the past but I’ve always been interested in applying my experience to start a business that can be both profitable and have a positive impact on society.

I am fascinated by two questions: ‘Why?’ and ‘What if?’.

It’s a fact: companies with a clear purpose are proven to perform better. We live in a day and age where consumers, particularly Millennials, ask more questions and seek total transparency. They want to know from brands not just ‘what’ they do and ‘how’ they do it but ‘why’ they do it, and they choose to associate with brands with a clear and worthy purpose.

Personally I have a deep interest in community and anything that can create stronger links between people in communities or reduce social isolation (see my blog at greengreengrass.org).

As for the ‘What if?’… I think we need to spend more time challenging the status quo.

I run innovation workshops on a regular basis and I am keen on applying this experience to the world of social enterprise (just think of disruptive business models like Grameen and Toms!)

I’m at the start of my journey in social enterprise and am hoping that our experience with Social Starters in Brazil will be a fast track to starting some of my own projects that really truly matter.

Last chance to apply for the Social Innovation Bootcamp! Are you free July 4th to 18th 2015? If so, we’re offering this incredible opportunity at the competitive rate of £1280.00 (VAT included), which includes 14 nights accommodation in Rio, a crash course in social innovation, problem solving & creativity workshops, career coaching & mentoring, trips & excursions, programme related travel expenses, free WIFI, a mobile phone SIM, phone credit and more. Book your interview before 7th June by sending your CV and a cover note telling us why you want to come to info@socialstarters.org. There are only a few places left so don’t delay! Places go on a first come first serve basis.

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