Conclusions after our Aspire Conference 2016

And once more, our annual Aspire Conference is over. It has been an amazing weekend, full of motivation, work, fun and great people. And from the Aspire team we can just say THANK YOU to all our members, volunteers, sponsors, partners, hosts and, specially, to our participants. We hope that our “Navigating the Crossroads – Facing today’s challenges” conference was fruitful and enjoyable.

During the next days you will find pictures in our social networks. But now, once we had a few days to rest and analyze, it’s time to resume what our conference was about. And we are going to use the very own conclusions that our participants shared on Sunday. Let’s go!

-“Limited resources – Limiting resources” was an opportunity to discover new ideas and rethink concepts, realizing that reducing waste is not that hard if you know how. One example? Reduce the consumption of plastic bags, because it doesn’t only mean a smaller need of plastic, it also reduces a whole supply chain in which many other products are involve. This, like many others, is just small steps towards sustainability. And the key to reach this is easy: start with yourself.

The tracks had many interconnections: in this one, participants could think about new business models in order to reach sustainability, finding this market growing and open to innovation. At the same time, it was interesting to discover how the incorporation of women to labor market has as a consequence a decrease of the time invested in shopping, which led to a bigger consumption of prepared products and an increasing production of waste.

-“The Interplay of sexism, racism and religion – How can we contribute to a more gender equal society?” managed to reflect very carefully how terms like “sexism” or “feminism” are turned around and often not understood by most parts of society. Participants, together with their speakers, experimented what Google shows when you introduce terms like “Muslim woman”, “Western woman”, “female Halloween costume” or “male Halloween costume”; these experiments, together with other data, showed how the patriarchal norm is still prevailing in society, even if most of times it seems invisible. On the good side, participants worked on ideas for real campaigns and discovered how small experiments can raise awareness.

-“Migration: From challenge to opportunity” offered many discoveries, some of them were negative surprises, like realizing that the refugee crisis is, overall, a policy crisis, that reflects in aggressive borders policies. But there were more optimistic learnings, because there are, indeed, ways for different cultures to work together and there are also huge entrepreneurship possibilities with refugees as protagonists. For instance, our participants had ideas for crowdfunding and guidance projects so refugees can start their own companies or buddy programs in universities, so the complexities of the system can’t stop anybody from studying.

As we also discovered in the Gender Equality track, the way media represent migration needs to change, because reality doesn’t meet the public opinion. In this sense, the fact that politicians and most people believe that migration is negative for economy contrasts with what this track could experience: economies would grow with more people.

-“Challenging paradigms through new business models” offered many clear ideas and tips for its participants. We learned the relevance of testing an idea through prototyping, the possibilities that working around the system offers and the importance of using our strengths and loving what we do in order to success. It was also useful to learn how every idea is bad until it’s proofed and it receives investment, and that competition must be considered a motivation. Lastly, two basic principles that can be applied to every track: don’t wait, if you have an idea, go for it now; and finally, see the need, there lays the opportunity.

 

Obviously there were many more learnings, but it wouldn’t be possible to write them all down here. Especially because, in the end, all that learning was part of a holistic experience, with new friendships and even with a self-discovery trip.

Stay tuned for more, because there will be more, the conference is not completely over. Keep on aspiring!

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