Katy – founder of Designing for Social Innovation + Leadership (DSIL), a company that organizes a course which is a globally certified professional development program designed for individuals from all sectors who are ready to gain knowledge and skills in Human-Centered Design. Through the 15 live DSIL Virtual Classrooms and 10-day field immersions across Asia participants can build themselves and expanded network of innovators over the course of 5 dynamic months.
Q1: What do you appreciate yourself in the business mainly for?
We have over 800 applications from all over the world, close to 100 alumni, all of them doing social projects around the world. Also all of them said it was very beneficial to come. Some people say it was inspirational, for some it was a trigger to change their life. We have also some interns coming from top universities around the world, thinking with us and struggling with us and that’s also a success. And we do think that it will be a success to maintain the lifestyle out of that. Keep having a profit. Starting to care about ourselves again, go to the spa or have a nice glass of wine. If you can’t do these things it really starts to break you down, so we are trying to make it financially successful as well. It means also to understand that as social entrepreneurs we are allowed to make money and it is ok. So many people believe that if you do good you shouldn’t be paid anything. No, no. Not at all. We have to take care of ourselves if we teach others to care about themselves. I look forward to continue that conversation and think more what that mean and how we create sustainable revenue and great impact at the same time. Win-win, if you want.
Q2: What is the biggest challenge for you now?
Well, working in a team. All of us have different ideas and perspectives. It is constant dialog, listening and giving, all the time. We are a new company and we are trying to practice internally the values that we teach and I think successful businesses, if you really dig down the team, that’s what they actually do. Also it’s so much easier to connect when people are close to each other. It’s so much easier to hear, to talk. So we are also balancing that up. Where do we put team, relationships over the project, when we are not sure where to go or what to do. It’s like my family, it always comes up. I want you guys with me, I want you close to me, I want to connect and they agree but we have to constantly make adjustment to be in different places. We are just trying to figure out how we want it to look like, what values we practice and maintain no matter what.
Q3: What advice do you have for yourself in this situation?
More time together as a team. A little bit of training on the business model. Technical aspects. I was working with youths on the street for years, so working in teams, the dynamic is not new, but some of technical things we need to learn. It’s a kind of funny, we are teaching it since three years and then we sit and start to wonder: so what the business model is? Do you know what impact investment is? How to make it more successful for people around the world. We need more money to do that.
Would you like to add something else?
We started as educational program, people interested in social entrepreneurship come to South East Asia for 10 days to discover what social entrepreneurs look like here and what they are doing to solve problems. They spend 5 days here, in Thailand, and 5 days in another country such as Indonesia, Taiwan, Cambodia, Myanmar and Philippines. They observe for example what’s going on in those labs which create technology to solve problems. That’s how it started as a project and quickly develop to a business without us expecting that. And now as company we move to do more consultation, research and development on social impact.
The questions were asked on our behalf by Anna and Andrea from How to (ex) change the world.
Singapore, 9th June, 2016