Training social entrepreneurs across Europe in AI skills

MinnaLearn, a Finnish learning company, launches a programme to train social entrepreneurs across Europe in AI skills.

The AI Tides programme equips social entrepreneurs with AI know-how to help them scale their businesses. The programme is created and run in collaboration with INCO and supported by MinnaLearn is known for its Elements of AI course, the most successful AI course to date with over 1.3 million participants worldwide.

Social entrepreneurship is critical in addressing major global issues, ranging from healthcare and education to environmental sustainability. Embracing new technologies, particularly AI, is crucial in building and scaling these businesses and maximising their societal contributions. According to the World Economic Forum, the main obstacles to using AI for social entrepreneurship are the lack of technical skills and a trust gap. The use of AI in social entrepreneurship also holds substantial potential for economic impact. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, the social economy accounts for 7% of global GDP. Generative AI could add between $182 billion and $308 billion annually to the sector.

“AI skills are crucial for social entrepreneurs aiming to scale their impactful businesses. Often, they lack access to the necessary tools and training. Through AI Tides, we aim to democratize access to AI skills and help social entrepreneurs maximise their impact. This initiative is the first of its scale to help social entrepreneurs gain access to AI knowledge,” says Ville Valtonen, Co-Founder and CEO of MinnaLearn.

AI Tides will train nearly 600 social entrepreneurs in 14 European countries. The programme is based on MinnaLearn's Elements of AI course. The AI Tides course uses the Elements of AI curriculum, which is developed in collaboration with the University of Helsinki. The curriculum focuses on easy-to-understand information and practical examples of artificial intelligence. The programme employs MinnaLearn's unique train-the-trainer and peer learning models.

In the programme, participating teams and entrepreneurs gain a fundamental understanding of AI through hands-on experience, applying AI tools to their work. Upon completion, they have validated business prototypes that utilise AI to address their specific challenges.

“This approach ensures that participants not only gain fundamental skills and understanding of AI but also graduate with business prototypes that can be further developed to increase impact in their local communities,” Valtonen tells.

AI Tides is created and run in collaboration with INCO and it is supported by INCO will strengthen community ties within the programme by providing additional training and support to the participants, organising engagement activities, and ensuring the impactful delivery of the Elements of AI course. This programme is free for all participants.

“This initiative marks a significant step towards integrating cutting-edge technology with social entrepreneurship, fostering innovation that is both socially responsible and technologically advanced. By supporting the energy, ideas, and dedication of social entrepreneurs, we believe that AI can contribute positively to our shared humanity instead of diminishing it,” says Amalia Spyratou, INCO Academy Director.

“We are excited and honoured to have gotten the support from leading international organisations. This highlights our pioneering efforts in the AI education space,” Valtonen concludes.