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Social Entrepreneurship: Network, Educate, Improve

Are you a social entrepreneur and looking for workspace or financial support? Or do you want to improve your network or hone your skills? Then this article about social entrepreneurship might help.

The theory: Social Entrepreneurship Akademie

“Education for Societal Change” – is the motto under which the Social Entrepreneurship Akademie (SEA) has been supporting active and aspiring social entrepreneurs since 2010 with its various qualification programs. Founders also receive custom-tailored support: That includes SEA:Act for Impact, a promotional award for social entrepreneurs, or the startup support program SEA:incubate or even the six week scaling program SEA:accelerate for female founders.

The founding of the SEA as a network organization is based on an initiative of the Entrepreneurship Center which is run by the four Munich-based universities. When asked what the SEA focuses on most particularly when working with startups, Kristina Notz answered:

“We are open-minded when it comes to topics and usually support startups for three to nine months. For us, it’s important that they are a team and clearly focus on the impact of what they do. They also shouldn’t forget that their financial viability needs to be sustainable so they can increase their impact over the long term.”

The association: Social Entrepreneurship Netzwerk Deutschland e.V.

The Social Entrepreneurship Netzwerk Deutschland e.V. (SEND) was founded in 2017. The association has made it their mission to improve the conditions for social entrepreneurs in Germany. They also offer social entrepreneurs the opportunity to network throughout Germany. Founding member and Chairman Markus Sauerhammer talked about the motivation to create SEND:

“The core objectives of SEND are to network the social entrepreneurship sector, to aim for increased professionalization and to make the sector’s players more visible. We’re also working with politicians and ministries on the further development of general conditions.”

As an instrument to measure the status quo for social enterprises in Germany and to provide a forecast of further developments, SEND came together with Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg to develop the Deutsche Social Entrepreneurship Monitor (DSEM), which is published annually. The study reviews the structures, processes and concrete goals pursued by social enterprises in Germany.

More information about SEND

The space: Impact Hub Munich

A hotspot for Munich’s social entrepreneurs is the Sendling district. It’s home to Impact Hub Munich, which is where socially oriented entrepreneurs and companies come together to collaborate in Bavaria’s capital city. The Impact Hub is much more than just a coworking space in the traditional sense. The Hub stands out not only due to the lively interaction it fosters in the community, but also because it offers its members both funding and advisory services. Impact Hub founders Joscha Lautner and Johann Schorr elaborated:

“A classic startup requires paying customers and needs to acquire growth capital and generate revenue. It’s a whole different story for social enterprises. They additionally require a clear definition of what socially oriented business means to them and how they want to reflect that in the way they do business. You might say that social startups face a double challenge because they not only need to know how to put money in the bank, but also how they can align their project with its non-profit status. That certainly makes things a bit more difficult than in other sectors. Nonetheless, it’s important for startups to be able to support themselves over the long term in the realm of social entrepreneurship, i.e. not having to permanently live off donations.”

More information about Impact Hub Munich

The network: Ashoka

Ashoka supports social entrepreneurs around the globe in spreading their ideas. The goal of the organization is to improve the conditions for social entrepreneurs and social ideas in Germany and worldwide together with fellows and partners — from recognition to financing options and even systematic cooperation with governments. Katharina Hinze, coordinator of the Ashoka selection process, explained:

“We look for ideas that get to the root of social problems. For people who change how we look at a subject. The central criterion for selecting an Ashoka Fellow is the “new idea.” We want to support people who have found a way to make an effective adjustment that no one has tried before. With funding and professional support, we want to enable them to continue making those adjustments and to spread their solution throughout Germany. At the same time, we also want to highlight role models who demonstrate how to wisely work for the common good.”

Ashoka Fellows receive advisory services, become part of a global network and receive appropriate financial support.