Creating an inclusive social innovation ecosystem in Lesvos, Greece

From 7-9 May 2019, Dr Jarrod Ormiston, Assistant Professor in Social Entrepreneurship, was a keynote speaker at the Changemakers Summit in Lesvos, Greece.

Lesvos has been on the front line of the refugee crisis since 2015 and is currently coming to terms with the shift from basic assistance and emergency response towards a focus on integration and supporting livelihoods of refugees. The summit was coordinated by Vasili Sofiadellis from Changemakers Lab and hosted by the Mytilini Chamber of Commerce and Open Space, a social enterprise co-working space focusing on supporting refugees. The main goal of the event was to develop practical ideas and actions that would contribute to a more inclusive social innovation ecosystem on Lesvos that supports interaction between refugees and the local community.


The summit brought together diverse actors from the social innovation ecosystem that are working to support refugees on Lesvos, including: Aspiring refugee entrepreneurs in education and hospitality, Local Greek NGOs (Siniparksi, Iliaktida, Starfish)Local government representatives (the Office of the Mayor, local political candidates), International organisations (IOM, European Commission), Grassroots NGOs (Re-focus, Low Tech Lab, One Happy Family, Office of Displaced Designer, Refugees for refugees) and local private sector actors including entrepreneurs and local investment agencies. A key outcome from the summit was the decision by local social innovation actors to continue monthly meetings between diverse organisations in the ecosystem to encourage knowledge sharing, collaboration and new initiatives in the refugee space.

As part of his keynote address, Jarrod presented his insights from the Inter agency (UNCTAD / IOM / UNHCR) Policy Guide on Entrepreneurship for Refugees and Migrants. Jarrod was the lead consultant on the guide, which was published in October 2018. Alongside the summit, Jarrod also met with the Mayor of Lesvos and the Director of Kara Tepe Refugee Camp to explore possibilities for supporting social innovation alongside the local and refugee communities.

When asked about the summit, Jarrod replied that it was great to see so many different local actors networking and sharing their insights and experiences. He was also impressed by the organisation and activities of the Kara Tepe Refugee Camp claiming “It is inspiring to see how people can find order in chaos.”

Back in Maastricht, Jarrod’s teaching activities focus on social and sustainable entrepreneurship and strategy. His active research involves various activities with the Entrepreneurship Development Network Asia (EDNA) and working with social enterprises to enhance their impact. Jarrod is also an active member of two of SBE’s seven research themes: “Creativity innovation and entrepreneurship” as well as “Sustainable development”.

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