Use those Business Smarts for Social Good at Makesense

Social business nomad Josiane Smith is back writing for GOtilo on world social enterprise day, with her latest in a series looking at some of the ways you can spend your time having fun, giving back and contributing to London’s growing social activist scene at the same time. Today we dive into a network supporting social changemakers all over the world: Makesense

Imagine, if you will, an intimate music performance where in the interlude between songs, you get stories from your community, from your neighbourhood, of inspirational people changing lives and solving problems. You’ve just stumbled upon a MakeSense gig. (Check out MKSRoom for more of these).

Makesense was founded in 2011 by two friends from Paris who were eager to find ways that local communities could find solutions to the challenges facing their local changemakers, charities and social businesses. I started volunteering for Makesense in Bristol as a student, by which time there was already years of momentum in London.

A large part of how MakeSense operates is through a model which allows anyone, anywhere, to be trained in workshop design, or to participate in workshops – ‘Holdups’ as they are called – that support the emergence and development of solutions (a particular focus is the United Nations’  Global Goals). Holdups bring a dozen or so enthusiasts into a room, working with a social entrepreneur to help them crack whatever challenge they currently face.

MakeSense also regularly organises global conferences, called “unconferences” or “SenseCamps” (I’ll be heading to the one coming soon in Amsterdam), where the sessions are run, and the schedule is dictated, mainly by attendees. There is a huge social component to all of this; participants come together, make friends and put on events like the gigs mentioned above.

The organisation of MakeSense depends on the enthusiasm and dedication of volunteers like me and thousands of others, who rally around changemakers in specific cause areas, like Female Empowerment, Refugees, Food Security, Future Of Waste, Digital Education, Low Carbon Energy, Fairwear and more. When I asked how it began in London, Gianpietro Pucciariello‎, one of the Community Managers for the local chapter of MakeSense said. “When we started doing this five years ago, “Design Thinking” was not as big as it is today.” Today, however, not just design thinking, but MakeSense itself flourishes around the world. MakeSense’s website boasts chapters in 130 cities, having mobilised almost 35,000 volunteers to help 2,500 social entrepreneurs create a better world. Elodie Draperi, former Community Developer at MakeSense, added:


“We’re a strong community and social movement; completely Open-Source and completely Open Door.”


It’s a wonderful community to be part of and the problems we help solve collectively really do matter. So get involved! If you are interested in any of these topics, or fancy getting to the heart of what makes your community tick for an evening or two, why not head over to their respective Facebook Groups, or check out the MakeSense London Hotspot Facebook Page for upcoming events and gatherings. Oh, and do feel free to ping me in the group to say ‘hi’ if you want to get more involved.

As I mentioned in my previous article, you’ll find out about initiatives like this, with loads more inspiration, if you’re also a member of our Facebook community group: London’s ethical city explorers. See you there!


CommunitySocial entrepreneur sceneVolunteering