Social Entrepreneurship has many faces

This week I participated in the Ashoka Social Entrepreneurship conference in Berlin. Besides the official workshops and speeches given in the big glass building of the Allianzforum I had the possibility to speak to many social entrepreneurs cooperating with investors, traditional NGOs and Corporate enterprises. It is fascinating to see how all are looking to collaborate and to identify new ways of business development: Young people with ideas still at the beginning, such as setting up house corridor cafes in huge apartment blocks to make neighborhood more social, 50+ senior engagement and educational courses for offering huge enterprises and their employees new possibilities on how to engage before and after retirement and filmmakers who want to set up a platform to make social change more transparent. 

The understanding of social and entrepreneurship in the classical “business” meaning is very broad. Some have real business models behind, other are still 100% donation based.  The expectations from the different stakeholders are very different, too. 

One investor told me that he is still waiting for the right proposal, a proposal where not a single social entrepreneur and one partner ask for financial support to make one service or product happen, but where a holistic idea is developed, where stakeholders from the traditional social sector, academics and business together with social entrepreneurial ideas and engagement have worked out a plan how to an urgent problem in society is covered in all it’s important aspects to make real change visible and sustainable. 

A big vision, but a good one!

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