The CIVICUS Closing Ceremony. (Image credit: Tristan Brand/CIVICUS)

The CIVICUS Closing Ceremony. (Image credit: Tristan Brand/CIVICUS)

The CIVICUS Closing Ceremony. (Image credit: Tristan Brand/CIVICUS)

Riska Mirzalina, a Global Changemaker and social entrepreneur, recently presented a session at CIVICUS World Assembly. Originally from Indonesia, the Denmark resident underscores the value of international collaboration in fostering social enterprise.

Earlier this year, I received a call from Global Changemakers Director Francesca Martonffy, asking whether I would like to participate in CIVICUS World and Youth Assembly 2012 in a panel on youth and social entrepreneurship. Despite the hectic timing during summer school in Norway, it seemed like a good opportunity for me to give back to Global Changemakers. I would also have the chance to boost my knowledge on global development by learning directly from the international experts across multiple sectors. Besides, the event would take place in Montreal, and I’ve never been there before–so, opportunity accepted!

The theme of CIVICUS Assembly 2012, held last week, was ’Defining a new social contract – making the future together’.

Our session, entitled ‘Social entrepreneurs: working across border to change the world‘, was on the very first day of the Youth Assembly. Christine Wilson, the British Council’s Head of Youth and Society and lead on social enterprise, spoke first about social entrepreneurship and its characteristics of social and community justice, creativity, and innovation. We were joined by Victoria Lennox, CEO and founder of StartUp Canada, and Rajeeb Dey, CEO of and a member of the British Council’s Transatlantic Network 2020.

I  was there to discuss my experience with my company, Klassamirza, which seeks to combine environmental values with creativity and address some of our social problems in Indonesia through entrepreneurship. The session was followed by world café-style talks on working across sectors and national borders.

The Civicus World Assembly was vast, combining plenaries with interactive working sessions.  One session aimed to push the attendees to think beyond traditional sector mobilisation to network-generated, idea-based organising, which strengthens and connects young people across sectors to achieve impact beyond the capacity of a single group or community.

Another session examined the role of applying innovations to real problems. We tried to define what ‘social innovation’ and ‘social business’ really meant. We agreed that social enterprise was a tool for making our efforts more sustainable, but that social innovation was something that brings about real systemic change.

There was also plenty of networking, and I for one made new friends and contacts from across the world. We went to see a screening of the short film ‘Digital Citizen‘, which looked at websites that are making a difference in people’s lives, and the environmental documentary Tipping Point: The End of Oil, which has strengthened my commitment to getting my carbon footprint down even more!

All through the Assembly, we were strengthened and inspired by video messages from leaders such as Desmond Tutu, who used his characteristic warmth and humour to underline our shared commitment to social justice, and from Aung San Suu Kyi, who reminded us that political and economic development go hand in hand with social change.

CIVICUS was a place to inspire, learn and take action. Being surrounded by people with strong commitment to positive social change is one of the most effective ways to keep me believing that I, as a global citizen, can also make a difference.

Learn more about Global Changemakers.