Meet Miriam. Much like hundreds of other impact people, she attended the Impact Week in Torino (excellent choice, by the way). Miriam stands out from the usual crowd in one respect. She joined the conference as a part of the Impact Together!-delegation, our new EU-funded market building programme in the MENA region.
She’s not alone - close to 100 attendees in Torino were involved in either Impact Together! or Collaborate For Impact, our other market building programme. Their unique perspectives were on full display throughout the event. What you possibly don’t know, however, is that their conference really started on Tuesday, with a special pre-event programme.
Curious? We understand. Luckily, we asked Miriam to keep a diary of her week in the north of Italy, so as to offer a glimpse behind the scenes. We are happy to share those experiences with you.
Monday - Arrival
Touchdown! Our plane lands at Milan airport. It’s quite late already, so we are happy the train ride to Torino does not take all that long. Our delegation for the trip includes seven people - some of them are staff members, others are stakeholders that we bring along on the journey. To introduce them to the project, to the Impact Europe team and to the impact investing space in general. Some stakeholders are social entrepreneurs, others are involved in existing impact funds or have expressed an interest in investing with impact. The diversity is quite refreshing.
Once we make it to the hotel, we abandon our original plans to go out into the city. A busy schedule awaits.
Tuesday - Pre-Event (1)
Impact Week hasn’t formally started yet, but that does not mean our time goes to waste. After exploring the city for a little bit after breakfast, we have lunch with our delegation and determine our plans for the rest of the week. After that, we make our way to Casa del Pingone, one of the oldest buildings in Torino. It is also the decor of a first meeting with the Impact Europe team and the other Impact Together!-partners. We can still see the coffee cups and flipboard notes of the Collaborate For Impact partners, who had a meeting just before we did.
For an hour and a half we discuss big events in 2024, we evaluate how we have been working together and we share our goals for the conference. Impact Europe CEO Roberta Bosurgi joins in near the end, to welcome us all to the city. A nice touch!
After that, we have a chance to network with all the local partners, the Impact Europe team and members of the other delegations at a cosy walking dinner. All in all, it is very helpful to get acquainted before the real discussions start later in the week.
Wednesday - Pre-event (2)
It’s an early morning for us, as a bus picks us up from the hotel to head to Cascina Fossata, a location in the north of the city that is a prime example of how cities can use innovation to provide more inclusive and sustainable housing. Students typically live here - the guided tour is a nice extra. The Impact Together! and Collaborate For Impact crews, however, are here in full force, ready to talk business!
After a quick introduction to the programme of the Impact Week, we focus on a few questions that will help move the two projects forward more efficiently. How do we create a community of impact investors? How should we allocate time and resources? And what elements provide the biggest added value? Lots of possibilities are adressed, moving from awareness raising to learning opportunities, policy advocacy and networking events.
The afternoon is all about taking concrete steps - we split up into different country groups and have a chance to really go into the nitty gritty with our own delegation. It really is very nice to be able to have this conversation in a setting away from the daily operational work, and I believe we really succeeded in involving our stakeholders.
The long day continues with a trip to MAUTO, the automobile museum of Torino, for the members event of Impact Week. Lots of interesting conversations, some jarring video interventions, and even an Impact Champion award for one our project partners, Lama Amr of BuildPalestine. Well deserved!
A lovely creative dinner rounds off the day - as some of the crew of Impact Together! enter the dance floor, I make my way home nice and early.
Thursday - The Big Launch
A long day of open sessions, panel discussions and thought-provoking contributions! The formal launch of Impact Together and the subsequent apparitions of the partners on stage seems to have really broken the ice - so many people came over to discuss our work, challenges and to exchange contact information. It’s only now that I get a sense of how immense this event is - close to a thousand people swarm the event. It’s a little overwhelming at times.
As we all had selected different sessions to attend, we regrouped during the breaks in the networking area to share some highlights as the day progressed. Luckily, the OGR building is absolutely huge, so there is plenty of room to hold those kinds of networking moments.
Some personal highlights include the live session of the Impact People podcast, where some of our partners talked about how their work is transformed by the presence of war and conflict, and the main stage sessions on Impact By Design and The Triple Crisis. I just hope I can decipher my notes at the end of the week.
After sundown, we go out to dinner with our stakeholders. The social, after all, is equally important, even if that means we miss out on the dinner at OGR. It cannot be helped.
Friday - Workshop Time
Admittedly, I was a little tired on Friday, which is why I was happy to see the big crowd dissolving into several smaller groups for a myriad of workshops. Choosing was a bit difficult, but eventually I found a schedule that worked for me and I joined in several workshops including one about impact measurement, one about youth activation and another about boosting inclusive economies in developing countries. Some of my best conversations happened right after these sessions, when there was some time to reflect with the people that had engaged themselves around these topics.
The OGR building is a bit calmer than yesterday, and I spend quite a lot of time in the networking area doing one-on-one meetings with different people, even during lunch. Never had soup with popcorn before, but it's actually quite nice.
As the last hours of the conference draw nearer, we can see the word 'HANDS' appear behind the main stage. It's an art piece that has been developing in real time as Impact Week went on. It's a fitting choice of words, reflecting the many hands that are needed to create a piece of art, but also the many hands that are involved in delivering impact around the world.
We close off the conference with a nice bit of news - next year's conference will take place in Bilbao! Looking forward already.
Miriam is a composite of different attendees at Impact Week, there was almost 1,000 of them, by the way - although she is not one real person, her story is based off different perspectives from actual attendees.