Get to know the people who change Slovakia for the better
They bring more effective, sustainable and fair solutions to problems in education, healthcare, social assistance, and generational poverty — exceptional people who change their communities and our country for the better. The Pontis Foundation, in cooperation with the international organisation Ashoka, identified 461 inspiring personalities and included them in the Map of Social Innovators. There are starting and established innovators, as well as their supporters from business and public administration. Everyone is united by the desire to contribute to positive societal changes.
“The Map of Social Innovators is proof that there are still many people who care for our country,” says Martina Kolesárová, executive director of the Pontis Foundation. These are founders and employees of non-profit organisations, public administration, local government, senior officials, people from businesses, ministries, musicians, journalists, architects, people working in culture, teachers, IT experts, and academics. Everyone, from their perspective, searches for a solution to one of the urgent social problems, thereby contributing to improving the quality of life in Slovakia.
How we created the map and what it brought
The Pontis Foundation, with the international organisation Ashoka, mapped these personalities from March to June 2022. In the beginning, there was a selected group of 21 people of different ages from different fields and regions. “We asked about their work and the obstacles they encountered during its implementation. We also received tips from them on other personalities who are changing our country for the better with their work,” M. Kolesárová describes the process of collecting information and adds: “We gradually identified 461 unique names using the snowball method.” Some were nominated more than once; together, we received 1245 nominations. The more often a person was nominated, the larger the size of their circle on the map. Most people on the map are between the ages of 35 and 45. They work mainly in the civil sector. The top three areas they work in include education, socio-economic inclusion, and strengthening democracy. The map’s ratio of men and women is 58:42 in favour of women.
The Pontis Foundation presented the map of social innovators at an event covered by the auspices of the President of the Slovak Republic, Zuzana Čaputová and the Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, Eduard Heger.
The map is a diverse mix of 461 personalities who work to change Slovakia for the better. A total of 296 of them also provided us with more detailed information about their work. Thanks to them, we found out what obstacles innovators encounter in their work. “The biggest obstacle to the development of their activities is the limited sources of financing. Barriers are also the low level of connectivity between sectors and the lack of human resources with sufficient skills,” explains Radoslav Pittner from Ashoka.
Social innovations are the source of solving existential crises
The Pontis Foundation has mapped social innovators for the second time. The first time was in 2015. “The reason we started mapping again is the uncertain, rapidly changing situation in the world, which brings new challenges. Whether in education, increasing confidence in democracy and citizenship, or environmental issues. Social innovations are the source for solving these existential crises. To have better conditions for the creation and dissemination of social innovations in the future, we need to know the actors of social innovations and their needs,” explains M. Kolesárová.
The Map of Social Innovators presents individuals’ profiles and the connections between them. Cooperation is essential in solving problems in our society. The goal of the map is for key actors and innovators to have the opportunity to connect with people who work on the same goals and together achieve positive change. An important aspect is also to instil hope that we have people in Slovakia who bring solutions and have the will to work on them.
Slovenská sporiteľna Foundation is the leading partner of the Map of Social Innovators project. “At the foundation, we have long focused on strategic support for developing projects to meet urgent societal needs sustainably. Slovakia needs innovation for its future, and it is social innovators who have the potential to significantly advance our country thanks to the connection of the corporate, civil and public sectors,” says Barbara Henterová, manager of the Slovenská sporiteľňa Foundation. She adds that it is natural for the company to be a “partner of a project that will present Slovakia with the current key actors of systemic change in our country.”
We want to start further cooperation
The creation of the Map of Social Innovators does not end; it only begins. The Pontis Foundation and other personalities and partners plan to prepare a strategic plan for supporting and developing social innovations and working on solving the barriers identified by the map. “On a long-term scale, it will be a success if the map becomes a starter for the discussion on the support of social innovations. We believe that key people will start to connect more and help each other. They have a common goal – to improve Slovakia’s future perspective and shape it into a modern, functional, fair and successful country,” concludes M. Kolesárová.
You can find more information on the website www.mapainovatorov.sk.