Out of the Clouds
July 14, 2023, Anne V Muhlethaler

S3:E14 Etienne Salborn

on fostering innovation, freesponsibility and building self-organised communities

Social entrepreneur Etienne Salborn on the Out of the Clouds podcast

Etienne Salborn is the founder of SINA (the Social Innovation Academy), a talent campus in Uganda. He also serves as a lecturer for social entrepreneurship at the Management Center Innsbruck and the ESCP Business School, resource person for the Asian Productivity Organization and facilitator for the ChangemakerXchange. His expertise and leadership have earned him recognition as an “AACSB Influential Leader 2021” and he was named an Innovation Ecosystem Builder Fellow by MIT D-lab in 2018.

The Berlin-born social entrepreneur has had quite the life journey since taking off for Uganda at age 18 for a volunteering community service (an option to eschew the German military service). In his conversation with Anne, he tells her about how he set up his first and then second non-profit organisations after he found his life’s mission: to support the empowerment of marginalised youth in rural Uganda. 

We discuss his very special master’s program in Austria, called Peace, Development, Security and International Conflict Transformation, and how it led him into a journey of self-discovery and experiential learning (which included simulation of a conflict war zone as well as mindfulness, meditation and contemplation on Austria’s mountains in minus 27 degrees Celsius).

Etienne explains how SINA came to be, what three pillars underpin the project and how young students, or SINA scholars, are onboarded and grow their roles within the community, built as a self-organised system that runs on what the concept of ‘freesponsibility’ (freedom + responsibility). 

With people living and working in the community, Etienne explains how they have used models from Nonviolent Communication, holacracy, and his master’s program facilitation tools to help navigate change, conflict and feedback — something of a challenge in a flat structure of 60+ individuals. 

SINA’s goal is to help young people unleash their potential, create their own change and build their own social enterprises. Etienne shares how SINA has grown into a replicable model, building a new generation of social entrepreneurs who are solving challenges for society and the environment. With more than 12 communities across Uganda and other African countries, Etienne talks about what’s next, how we can support, engage with and even visit SINA, and why we should all explore the power of community. 

A unique interview with a thoughtful and impact-driven changemaker. Enjoy!

Selected links from episode 

Find out more about SINA on their website Social Innovation Academy

And more about Etienne on LinkedIn.

MCI, the Entrepreneurial School in Innsbruck, Austria where Etienne studied.

Find out about the Masters studies in Peace at the University of Innsbruck.

More about UPeace, the UN’s University for Peace.

The book Reinventing Organisations by Frederic Lalou, laying out ideas like holacracy.

Chapter One, the book by Daniel Flynn

You can support SINA by purchasing products made by some of the social entrepreneur scholars retailing on Amazon:

Ouroots natural drinking straws

Totya Platform oven gloves produced by survivors of sexual violence

Clothing pegs from recycled plastic produced in the Bidibidi Refugee Settlement 

And here’s Etienne’s musical answer to the question ‘what song best represents you?’