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  • Matias Acosta

This is how you can start having a real and scalable impact today

Updated: Jul 19

Individual actions to tackle problems are great, but they barely help societies overcome complex challenges like climate change, poverty or the next pandemic. The old proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together”. This is why collective social innovation matters. It is the way for like-minded people who care about others and the environment to learn and work together to create real, long-lasting impact at scale. So, how can you start?


Lots of people speak about “positive change”, “social impact”, and other terms. It is a trendy term and, most of the time, unfortunately, a buzzword. If you agree with this blog, you may think of impact as the number of people (animals or other beings) affected by you, how much they are affected and over which period. Under this definition, real impact means you should considerably influence at least one person in the long run. This generally will take effort so I would first recommend you to start by finding a challenge that motivates you. If you are unsure, try out different things, like seeking advice from experienced people. You may also consider volunteering in different networks or with us.


Following the definition above, a real impact and scalable means influencing considerably many people over a long time. This generally implies working with many people and putting even more effort. Having this vision in mind is truly rewarding, but it will imply sacrifices you may not wish to take. Bear in mind that some challenges are very complex, and it is likely impossible to solve them. Hence, my second recommendation is to start small and realistic, focusing on a problem you care about and the people suffering it. Do not lose your big dream, but start small!


Once you understand the problem and are certain that it motivates you, move on to analyse whether you have the right support and resources to build a solution. Ideally, I suggest you start cheap and test things out, regularly engaging with the person living the problem. Is your solution affecting the person and their challenge? How are you measuring this, and over which time period? This is tricky because “affecting” someone can mean anything, literally. Anyhow, it will take you time to get to this stage, so we do not need to go in-depth into these topics here.


We often need more guidance or meeting the right people to start, not just a blog though. Shaping Horizons is all about collective learning and innovation. We exist to support young people in developing soft and entrepreneurial digital skills while building projects with real impact. We guide you in all the steps you need to understand what problem you wish to solve with others and how to build solutions with real and scalable impact. You do not need to know other people, and it does not matter where you live (or if you are a nomad!) or the particular challenge you care about. With internet access, you can join our digital campus and use our free digital tools, meet people who care about similar challenges and start learning while igniting impact on your spare time. What are you waiting to start?


Matias Acosta is a social entrepreneur bringing science and innovation for development. His award-winning work and 50+ articles were cited over 3,000 times. He founded Shaping Horizons and was Head of Exploration at UNDP. Besides consulting for corporations, he was an academic at the University of Cambridge and the Technical University of Darmstadt.



Disclaimer: All content published on the Shaping Horizons blog does not in any way represent the view of Shaping Horizons, its members or partners. Publication by Shaping Horizons does not constitute an endorsement of the author's view.

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