Our history

The Spark/ Millemont Summit, Paris, France

In October 2014 and in February 2015, the Millemont Summit gathered a mix of 60 social entrepreneurs and activists from all around the world, during one full day in a castle near Paris (the Millemont Castle). The meeting was organized by our colleagues Petra Popp, Nicolas Beriot and Avryl Colleu, who later supported closely the development of OpenTeam. The goal was to enable the gathering of worldwide innovators, who each presented their work in a 2min pitch to the others in a round circle, and then to identify potential collaboration opportunities with each other.

This was the first prototype of a “matchmaking process”, focused on enabling the emergence of collaborations within a targeted audience of change-makers (on-invitation only). Sokha worked with this team on the implementation of a digital prototype tool using Microsoft Access database to enable the follow up of the interactions that were initiated or wished, between all present stakeholders.

THE BIRTH / COP20 in Lima, Peru

In December 2014, the French Ministry of the Environment invited Sokha, then cofounder of the French social enterprise Call for team, to represent a French social innovation at COP20 in Lima, during the civil society side-events “Voices for the Climate”. Sokha was welcomed by the famous environmental filmmaker John Denis Liu and his daughter Serene Liu, engaged in raising awareness amongst citizens regarding climate change through documentaries.

While in Lima, Sokha met fabulous entrepreneurs, who develop fantastic initiatives to solve climate change, but he was surprised that French social innovators didn’t have much knowledge of the solutions and innovations that Peruvians and more globally Latin American social innovators were developing, and vice-versa.

This is when it became obvious that there was a deep need for social innovators and stakeholders who strive for a common goal, to better know one another, value their collective experience and knowledge to counteract climate change, and grasp more opportunities for collaboration. And this with the aim to join forces and increase their collective impact.

Back from Peru, the work started immediately to build the founding blocks of OpenTeam.

FROM INSPIRATION TO ACTION / Open Chateau Gathering

In December 2014, shortly after the COP20, a large group of NGOs and social enterprises launched OpenChateau, an event impulsed by Sokha (as cofounder of CallForTeam) : a gathering of social innovators who wished to work together during 3 days on the presentation of their projects, debate on development issues and creation of collective responses.

The goal was to grow each project by mutualizing forces, visions, solutions and innovations. The event was organized in the format of a “barcamp” (open, participatory workshop-events, the content of which is provided by participants) within the Millemont Castle. The event brought together 130 social innovators from France and Europe, and was self-financed by the registration. Participants engaged in a collective life, sleeping in the castle and participating in the cooking and cleaning.

The first day focused on discovering the projects of one another, the second on tackling specific issues encountered by projects, and the third on developing bridges and further collaboration between the projects. Many collaboration opportunities came out of the event, linking talents through operational work sessions. The main themes covered were: Turning citizen engagement into action, IT for Change, Agroforestry, Permaculture, Inclusive land territory development, Alternative education and Civic tech… The event closed up with the concrete mapping of our interdependencies and collaboration opportunities between all participants, displayed visually as shown on the photo.

The most important collective learning was to realize how paramount it now seems to further develop this dynamic, and most importantly in a way that increases the efficiency in the way people collaborate with each other. The consensus confirmed the following two main needs :

  1. To enable a better identification of who should talk to who, based on common goals but also complementary solutions;
  2. To connect better, faster, in a more targeted way with the right people, based on their mutual needs.

The trip to Lima for the COP20, followed by the OpenChateau event, made it cristal clear that a dedicated structure should be created, with the mission to enhance collaboration between social innovators from all around the world. OpenTeam was launched for this purpose right after the event, in collaboration with a majority of the participants.

LAUNCH OF OPEN TEAM / Building the foundations

In January 2015, a large number of the OpenChateau participants gathered to define the type of framework that would be required to reach our goals and improve collaboration. Some of the most important messages and means of action of OpenTeam were laid: scaling impact by deploying both a digital and a human framework:

  • The digital part would enable the connection of social entrepreneurs beyond country barriers, thanks to efficient digital matchmaking algorithms, the sharing of knowledge and a better access to finance
  • The human part would guarantee the fundamental need to always value social interactions in between people that aim at designing a more sustainable future, thus taking into account vulnerable populations with low (or non-existent) access to technology or telecommunication infrastructures.

This is when Joanne joined the team and quickly became part of the leading members, today one of the two former cofounders. Also, Basma Tliba was one of the core members who made the OpenChateau event possible late 2014, and had a major role in the birth of the project throughout the first semester. Serene Liu, daughter of John D Liu met in Lima, quickly took part in the coreteam the whole year, to develop relationships with new peers in worldwide countries. Charlotte Portelli also joined the team and contributed during the second semester on partnerships and network development.

The project was impulsed with a strong collaborative approach, naturally stemming from its collective kick-off, and any motivated stakeholder was welcome to join in building the draft of our framework. As a consequence, many individuals have taken part in those foundations, bringing in time, sweat, network and funding during this challenging period. OpenTeam is dearly grateful to all the collaborative team members for their support. The full list of participants is listed later in the document.

On May 29th, 2015, our NGO was administratively formalized.