7 June 2024

A Global Journey to Impact in Novi Sad: Experiencing the SIA Summit and the Spirit of Community

By: Tuana Bozdemir

During a meeting with Martin, our Global Communications Coordinator at the Social Impact Award (SIA) program, he mentioned that what makes SIA special is its spirit of community and the sense of shared experience. I truly understood what he meant when I attended the SIA Summit in Novi Sad, Serbia.

When I first joined the SIA Turkey program as a co-coordinator in 2023, I felt that the program would have a significant impact both on my professional life and on the lives of young social entrepreneurs. After an enjoyable and intensive incubation period, I, representing the SIA Turkey program team, along with the 2023 SIA Turkey winners Sezer Enes Acar from the Palgae team, Zeynep Ağırbaş and İrem Çetinor from the Craft Antakya team, and our 2021 alumni Ravzanur Eker and Atilla İnce from the Corridor team, headed to Novi Sad, Serbia, to attend the SIA Summit. Before attending the summit, I perceived it as an event held annually in different countries, bringing together social entrepreneurs, alumni, and program coordinators from countries that host SIA. However, this experience far exceeded my expectations.

As the Turkey team, when we met in Serbia, coming from different parts of the world and Turkey, we felt as if we had known each other for years. This sense of fellowship remained one of the most beautiful aspects of our experience until the end of the summit. The summit began with an opening ceremony and continued with parallel sessions/workshops designed for entrepreneurs. They had the opportunity to attend workshops in various fields, from financial management to marketing, from the use of artificial intelligence to leadership skills. At the end of the first day, there was a delightful surprise awaiting the Turkey team.

Credit: Filip Bojovic and Marija Mandic

“Journey to Impact”

The opening ceremony of the “Journey to Impact” exhibition, organized by SIA Global and focusing on the inspiring stories of SIA alumni, took place on the first evening at an art center in Novi Sad. The exhibition featured the entrepreneurial story of our 2021 alumna, Ravzanur Eker, the founder of Corridor. Not only was Ravzanur’s journey part of the exhibition, but she also delivered the opening speech, making it one of the most unforgettable moments for our Turkey team at the summit. The “Journey to Impact” exhibition once again showed us that although the motivations, challenges, and journeys of entrepreneurs from around the world differ, their desire to change the world is immense and passionate.

We started the second day with Ravzanur’s talk titled “Fail101,” witnessing her challenging yet hopeful journey as a social entrepreneur. While our entrepreneurs continued to participate in parallel sessions and training on stakeholder management and community management, we had the opportunity to engage in a unique and equally impactful activity in the second half of the day.

Credit: Filip Bojovic and Marija Mandic

“Social Innovation Safari”

As part of the “Social Innovation Safari,” all participants visited six social enterprises and civil society organizations in Novi Sad, learning about their starting points, insights into entrepreneurship and civil society processes, and future plans. After visiting a social enterprise that publishes a street newspaper aimed at employing vulnerable groups and a civil society organization working to promote cycling in Serbia, I must say that observing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in a different country taught both our entrepreneurs and me a lot. This experience reaffirmed that one of SIA’s strongest aspects is its global character, opening new doors for social entrepreneurs on their journeys.

On the third and final day, our entrepreneurs completed their training on scaling, fundraising, and communication strategies, and with the closing ceremony, we reached the end of an intensive and productive three days. On our last night, we enjoyed fun moments playing “Community Tombola” with all participants and ended the summit with a grand closing party.

Credit: Filip Bojovic and Marija Mandic

With the participation of over 140 people from 18 countries, the SIA Summit, which aims to enhance the capacities of entrepreneurs through inspiring talks, workshops, and training sessions, more than fulfilled its purpose. Additionally, as Martin mentioned, the SIA Summit once again demonstrated the power of SIA as a global program by providing social entrepreneurs from around the world a space to share their experiences, partner up, and expand their dreams.

The Social Impact Award Turkey 2024 process is ongoing. To learn about the selected finalists and follow all updates related to the program, please visit turkey.socialimpactaward.net.

We develop programs focused on solving social and environmental problems, from the climate crisis to gender inequality. Through our programs, we support an average of 50 entrepreneurs each year, from the idea stage to advanced stages, by providing various forms of assistance such as training, mentorship, funding, business development, visibility, and networking support. To learn about our open application programs and get more detailed information about all our programs, visit our programs page!

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