Although born in Kenya, Rahim Mawji grew up in Tanzania before deciding to attend Harvard. Having been exposed to dozens of NGOs “always asking for money from the government,” he came to Cambridge wondering if there could ever be a better form of collaboration.
That’s when he stumbled upon the Harvard College Social Innovation Collaborative (HCSIC) and their Igniting Innovation Summit, admitting it was encouraging to see “how the for-profit and non-profit worlds could come together and have this baby called ‘social entrepreneurship.’” The Summit highlighted how to do well while doing good, and the participants were “hyped up about social change.”
A year later, Mawji is serving as the HCSIC’s chair of external outreach as they gear up to host the second annual Summit this weekend. The theme is “Voice Your Passion,” and the goal is to highlight various social entrepreneurship stories in order to inspire attendees to envision their own involvement in the sector.
Over 200 participants are expected to attend, according to Mawji, and there are over 50 speakers, including Paul Rice, president and CEO of Fair Trade USA; Jonathan Doocin, co-founder and CEO of US Green Data; Tammy Tibbetts, president and founder of She’s the First; and Andrew Slack of The Harry Potter Alliance.
The Summit kicks off on Friday, October 5, at 2:30 p.m. with a two-hour career panel, leading into TED-style talks, workshops and panels throughout the day on Saturday. During lunch on Saturday, there will also be an “Innovation Showcase,” featuring companies such as YouthTrade, Njabini Apparel and Taza, who will be promoting undergraduate engagement opportunities, including jobs, internships and campus ambassador programs.
“A lot of undergraduates have signed up to the conference so far,” Mawji says. “It’s very encouraging to see this kind of energy.”
When asked what he hopes participants get out of the Summit, Mawji admitted it depends on the kind of person who walks through the door. Yet, whether the conference serves as an introduction to social entrepreneurship or as a networking opportunity, he hopes “people figure out what they’re passionate about.” Moving forward, it’s those people who could have the greatest impact.