news

As a network organization, the Social Entrepreneurship Akademie aims to educate and support social entrepreneurs and innovators. Established in 2010, the institution is a joint initiative of four universities from Munich, Germany. By coaching startups and helping students and professionals to gain entrepreneurial skills to solve global challenges, the SE Akademie embeds the idea of social entrepreneurship in society. Horyou blog interviewed the team spokeswoman Kristina Notz about the network and the social innovation landscape.

SE Akademie is a result of the cooperation between  four German universities
SE Akademie is a result of the cooperation between four German universities

As a social entrepreneurship supporter and accelerator, what would you say are the biggest challenges for a social entrepreneur?

Every entrepreneur faces similar challenges and there are many. We observe that some social entrepreneurs have more difficulties to think and talk about profit, since they are impact-driven. At the same time they need more time to figure out their business model, to find funding, and to convince people and supporters. In the social sector, it is a challenge to find and retain talent, even though it seems to be an attractive working environment at first sight. The ability to stay motivated intrinsically is key.

Are you committed to the Sustainable Development Goals ? Do you address some of the SDGs with your projects?

Yes, we’re using the SDGs in most of our workshops as a starting point to raise people’s awareness and give impulses towards the field they could become active in as a social entrepreneur. Many of the social enterprises we support tackle one of the challenges addressed by the SDGs.

How do you see the future of social entrepreneurship?  

My vision is that all entrepreneurship is social and we can leave out the word “social” and herewith differentiate. The future is that every entrepreneurial activity respects the triple bottom line and bears in mind people, planet, and profit. And I strongly believe this is possible but requires a certain change in mind-set.

Many social entrepreneurs supported by the institution develop SDG-related projects
Many social entrepreneurs supported by the institution develop SDG-related projects

Horyou connects on its social platform thousands of social entrepreneurs, philanthropists and organizations around the world. In your opinion, what’s the importance of social networks for social entrepreneurship and, particularly, for your work?

Social networks offer powerful tools to raise awareness about social entrepreneurship and bring its idea and examples to a broader audience. Platforms like yours are very valuable to the sector since you showcase best practices and role models and inspire others, and ideally turn information into action.

In our work, Social media are our main tool to reach out to and stay in touch with our participants and alumni. We focus as well on offline networks, make people meet and experience the network face to face. They can learn from each other, be inspired by others and exchange ideas and best practices. The flux of ideas, learnings, dreams, and failures contributes a lot to the venture development and success.

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

We never think about eating as a political act, even though our choices are directly linked to social and environmental issues. Fair production and trade, water consumption of each product we buy at the market and carbon footprint of food transportation are only a few of the concerns we should take into consideration before giving the first bite in an apparently innocent snack. The organization Slow Food International does a great work raising awareness into the civil society and promoting fair, healthy, harmonic initiatives that both respect the environment and communities. Here are highlights of their interview!

Wheat farmer in Australia
Wheat farmer in Australia

1. What is Slow Food International’s purpose?

Slow Food is committed to restoring the value of food and to grant the due respect to those who produce it in harmony with the environment and ecosystems, thanks to their traditional knowledge. Since 1996 Slow Food has started to work directly with small-scale producers in order to help them safeguard agro biodiversity and traditional knowledge through projects like the Ark of Taste, that collects small-scale quality productions that belong to the cultures, history and traditions of the entire planet and today have almost 4,500 products on board. Or Presidia, that sustain quality production at risk of extinction, protect unique regions and ecosystems, recover traditional processing methods, safeguard native breeds and local plant varieties. One of the projects Slow Food is most proud of is “10.000 Gardens in Africa”, launched in 2010. The Gardens are created by local communities who plant traditional vegetables, fruits, culinary and medicinal herbs using sustainable techniques, involving young people and drawing on the knowledge of the elderly. The aim is to promote biodiversity, value African gastronomic cultures and raise awareness about big issues like GMOs, land grabbing and sustainable fishing. Around a third of the gardens are in schools, serving as open-air classrooms with an important educational function and often supplying healthy, fresh vegetables for school meals. This, in turn, is training a network of leaders aware of the value of their land and their culture. The other gardens are run by communities, and the produce is used primarily to improve the nutritional value of the community members’ everyday diet, while any surplus is sold to generate supplementary income.

In 2004, Slow Food launched the Terra Madre network, which brings together food producers, fishers, breeders, chefs, academics, young people, NGOs and representatives of local communities from 160 countries. In a world dominated by industrial production, Terra Madre, which means Mother Earth, actively supports the small-scale farmers, breeders, fishers and food artisans around the world whose approach to food production protects the environment and communities.

2. What is your mission and vision of the world?

Slow Food was founded to counter the rise of fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and to encourage people to be aware about the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world. Slow Food envisions a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good, clean and fair. Good, because it is healthy in addition to tasting good; clean because it is produced with low environmental impact and with animal welfare in mind; and fair because it respects the work of those who produce, process and distribute it. For this reason Slow Food works to defend biodiversity and to promote a sustainable and environmentally friendly food production and consumption system; to spread sensory education and responsible consumption; and to connect producers of quality foods with co-producers (conscious consumers) through events and initiatives.

Farmer's market
Farmer’s market

3. The Slow Food movement has gained more momentum in the last years. What would you consider as the main reasons behind the increased global awareness of the way we consume food?

We think that today, due to the increasing level of illnesses related to our daily food, people are starting to realize that their actions and daily choices have a repercussion on their health. People are starting to be more accurate in their food choices, on where they buy their food, on what’s inside what they eat. Also the concerns about the environmental challenges, like climate change, has increased the attention consumers are paying to how their choices can mitigate them. The industrial food system of production and consumption is in fact the first cause of pollution, CO2 production, loss of biodiversity. Today, Slow Food involves over a million activists, chefs, experts, youth, farmers, fishers and academics in over 160 countries. Among them, a network of around 100,000 Slow Food members are linked to 1,500 local chapters worldwide.

4. Are you committed to the Sustainable Development Goals or do you address some of the SDGs with your projects?

Some of the Sustainable Development Goals share our philosophy and our aim. Our philology, good, clean and fair tackles several SDGs, naming good health and wellbeing, responsible production and consumption, decent work and economic growth. We are working to address the huge problem of food waste, by organizing events like Disco Soup through our Young network, where people cook only food that would have been thrown away. That means that we are trying to help reach the zero hunger goal and that we vision sustainable cities and communities that would weigh as less as possible on the environment. Industrial animal production (linked to high levels of meat consumption) is responsible for 14% of greenhouse gas emissions, if we take into account the whole chain from food production to final consumption. Similarly, aquaculture consumes immense quantities of fishmeal, pollutes the water and, in many parts of the world, is responsible for the destruction of wide swathes of mangrove forest. On 2015 Slow Food launched an appeal called “Let’s not eat up our planet! Fight Climate Change” which aimed to sensitize the public on how much the agriculture weights on the climate change issue. Also for the “life on land and below water”, we are really sensitive about animal wellbeing, and we organize every two year an event called Slow Fish completely dedicated to sustainable fisheries and marine ecosystems.

Slow Food International has built a network with chefs worldwide
Slow Food International has built a network with chefs worldwide

5. Do you think food industries are getting more committed to producing food with less environmental, health and social impact? What are your main challenges to get them on board?

We have recently seen an increase of attention regarding these aspects. If industries are interested in finding more sustainable solutions for the environment and the health (in a serious way and not for marketing reasons) we are ready to facilitate the process and give advice.

6. Horyou is the social network for social good. What’s the importance of internet and social media to spread the message of movements like Slow Food and other positive initiatives?

We think that internet is a fundamental tool that can be used to share ideas, visions and experiences all over the world. For example people, especially youngsters and producers, could share their experiences to see how a same problem is tackled in different areas of the globe. Conversely, we don’t think it’s a useful tool if it takes place of human interactions and communications.

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

From June 30 to July 2, European Youth Awards invite creative minds to join a game marathon at the Technical University of Graz, in Austria.

EYA Game Jam
EYA Game Jam

Why not use technology to discuss social and environmental changes? That’s the challenge presented by the European Youth Awards to the young, creative minds that will be part of EYA Game Jam. The programming competition takes place at the Technical University of Graz, in Austria, and will use tools like virtual reality and 360° to discuss topics like water and family.

The goal is to create game prototypes to address both topics, that are intrinsically connected to the Sustainable Development Goals. Says Kathrin Quatember, EYA spokesperson: “Two of the UN SDGs focus on the topic of water; Goal 6 – Clean water and sanitation and Goal 14 – Life below the sea. By establishing a special category, EYA wants to contribute to the international awareness of treating the “source of life“. Secondly, we try to motivate young innovators and entrepreneurs to develop smart solutions for water related problems and apply for European Youth Awards 2017”. Water should also be the topics of the EYA 2017, she added.

The idea of using virtual reality and tech gadgets in the event stems from the fact that EYA wanted to bring digital technologies to the center of social innovation discussions within the EYA community. “The combination of the Game Jam topics ‘water’ and ‘family’ with VR and 360° technology is thrilling. It enriches the possibilities for the Game Jammers to reach the peak of creativity and opens new possibilities to approach the topics”, said Kathrin.

The competition is open to everyone interested in game and development. EYA partnered with VRCORE, the organizer of the “Global VR Hackathon“ – a worldwide event with regional competitions and a Championship Final in Shanghai at the end of August. Three Winners of the Jam will be invited to the Championship Final – a unique opportunity for the participants to expand their network and learn!

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

Launched by the United Nations Development Program, Foundation Center, and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors in 2014, the SDG Philanthropy Platform aims to raise awareness and build connections within the philanthropy sector. Focused on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the “SDG Funders” have developed partnerships to increase funding and create programs in order to reach the Global Development Agenda. Our Horyou community shares the same values, therefore we are happy to feature their interview in our blog!

Promoting SDGs in Brazil
Promoting SDGs in Brazil

What is the scope of SDG Funders work?

The goals of the SDG Philanthropy Platform (“the Platform”) is twofold: 1) To provide a greater understanding by the philanthropy sector of the Sustainable Development Goals (“SDG”) agenda and the process and 2) To provide a greater understanding by the UN system, governments, private sector and civil society of the role and potential of the philanthropy sector to contribute to sustainable development. After launching the Platform in Kenya, Ghana, Zambia, Colombia, Indonesia, India, Brazil, and the United States, we have recognized our role in creating partnerships that result in effective programs that help countries achieve the SDGs. The Platform is working to improve the philanthropic sector by providing country-specific information more easily, mapping the ecosystem, and sharing data so that giving is more transparent and less fragmented.

Teamwork in Ghana
Teamwork in Ghana

As a social entrepreneurship supporter and accelerator, what would you say are the biggest challenges to be a social entrepreneur?

I believe the biggest challenges for a social entrepreneur is access – access to funding, networks, resources, mentorship, etc. The SDGs is a classification system that is understood globally and is increasingly being used by all stakeholders. When social entrepreneurs frame their work using this taxonomy, it is an opportunity to leverage more resources. Through the open-source information we provide on our website, social entrepreneurs are able to better understand the ecosystem in which they operate and learn who are the top funders and recipients related to a specific SDG and country.

How do you see the future of social entrepreneurship?

In order to achieve the SDGs and their respective targets by 2030, neither the government nor philanthropy can do it alone. We will need the support of innovative thinkers, social entrepreneurs, and corporations to all work together to achieve the SDGs. In this, social entrepreneurs will continue to be valuable in scaling solutions and deepening their impact.

Event in Indonesia
Event in Indonesia

Horyou connects on its social platform thousands of social entrepreneurs, philanthropists and organizations around the world. In your opinion, what’s the importance of social networks for social entrepreneurship and, particularly, for your work?

Collaboration. Around the world, social entrepreneurs, philanthropists and organizations are creating solutions to tackle issues. By participating in social networks, stakeholders can learn from each other, share their approaches, and discuss how to create meaningful impact. Collaborative networks reduce duplicative efforts and help better utilize resources, both monetary and non-monetary. The Platform is a vehicle for catalyzing multi-stakeholder partnerships and collaboration to advance SDGs through building awareness and connections between those working in the philanthropy sector and beyond. The Platform has adopted a systemic approach to funding and policy work, shifting from fragmented individual projects to long-term collaborative efforts in line with national development priorities and the SDGs.

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

The social entrepreneur Ilaina Rabbat co-founded Amani Institute with the wish to address one of the biggest challenges of our times: education for social change. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, the institute offers courses on social innovation management, short term courses for professionals on leadership and management, and tailored programs for companies and educational institutions, all focused on the social sector. In this interview to Horyou blog, Ilaina talks about her motivations to work with social innovation, Sustainable Development Goals and her wishes for the next 20 years:

Interactive classes at Amani Institute
Interactive classes at Amani Institute

When and why have you decided to become a social entrepreneur?

It was in 2010 when I was working at Ashoka, where I met Roshan Paul (my current co-founder). We were discussing the importance of training professionals to solve the world’s gaps, as opposed to market gaps. Education and social change have always been my passions. I had already had experiences in both sectors. Now was the time to put those passions to the service of a project that I deeply believe in. Amani Institute was that. In 2012 Roshan and I moved to Nairobi, Kenya, leaving behind comfort and security to start something that almost no one believed could work!

What’s the social or environmental impact of your project?

Our mission is to develop professionals who produce social impact by creating new models of education and training that enable people to develop new practical skills and experiences for their professional toolkit, as well as a personal understanding of their own leadership journey, and the global networks necessary for long-term career success. All this while simultaneously reducing the high cost of a world-class global education. As a result, we build much-needed talent and capacity in organizations addressing social problems, thus enabling more effective operations across the entire social sector.

Field trips
Field trips

Which Social Development Goals does your project address?

We directly address the “Quality Education” goal but indirectly all of them, since our mission is to train people to contribute to these goals.

What is the biggest challenge for a social entrepreneur?

To never give up! There are many moments when you think your idea is not realistic. Those are hard moments. You have to stick to your long-term vision to go through the ups and downs of an entrepreneurial journey.

Classes at Amani Institute
Classes at Amani Institute

What inspires you to face everyday’s challenges?

What inspires me is hope! To believe that it is possible to have a better world and that we, human beings, can make it happen.

What’s the importance of social networks to your project? Within our social network for social good Horyou.com, we host more than 1000 social entrepreneurs who advocate their impact-driven projects. To what extent do you consider the role of the Internet and social platforms in fostering social entrepreneurship and, by extension, social impact?

At Amani Institute, social media is central to our goals because we are a global organization that wants to attract people that want to live a life of meaning and impact from all around the world. It would be almost impossible to do it without the force of the Internet and social media.

Interactive Social Innovation classes
Interactive Social Innovation classes

How do you see the future of social entrepreneurship? Where do you see your project in 20 years

I think social entrepreneurship will be the norm. We see at Amani Institute that more and more people want to have a meaningful life where they can have a real impact in the world and in someone else’s life. Not necessarily through starting a social venture but through bringing new solutions to social problems in different sectors such as the private and public ones. That is what we call them social Intrapreneurs.

I hope to see my project dying in 20 years because we are not needed anymore. I hope that by 2037 it will be the norm in education and training to talk about social impact and meaning. That everyone who wants will be able to have a life where they are aligned with themselves and with the world. I see a world full of social innovators and a much better world for all.

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

Barcelona is well-known for its tourist attractions – beautiful architecture, vibrant nightlife and great food -, which makes it one of the most visited places in the world. Yet, there is something more than attracting the occasional visitors that the Catalan capital wants to earn: the status of first Social Business big City. As a supporter of social businesses around the world, Horyou interviewed Anna Domenech, spokesperson for Social Business City Barcelona.

Barcelona Social Business City
Barcelona Social Business City

What does Social Business City Barcelona stand for?

Social Business City Barcelona (SBC Barcelona) is an International program of intervention, created by Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace prize in 2006, known as the promoter of microcredit and social business concepts. The creation of this international initiative has the purpose of spreading the concept of social business around the world, at a time when an international social business movement is arising worldwide that involves people, organizations and societies. This movement aims to promote and support social entrepreneurship and social business as a tool to deal with and solve the social needs and challenges of the city. From this global ecosystem, a new concept on how to solve social problems in a territory emerges, in a holistic and collaborative way: Social Business City (SBC). In order to reach that objective, SBC Barcelona has created a huge alliance between different actors in the city to work together for a social and economic change. Currently, SBC Barcelona is supporting the creation of new social enterprises, accompanying NGOs to create social businesses, undertaking social business communication campaigns, training sessions and workshops for students, and boosting university research and teaching. An important thing to consider is what we mean by social business: organizations whose main objective is to achieve a positive social impact, using the sale of a product or a service as a tool. The profits are reinvested in their own activity (no-dividend), to make more effective and enduring its main goal: to create impact and generate social change.

You have a very bold mission – to transform Barcelona into the first big social business city in the world. What is your strategy and timeline to reach this goal?

Before Barcelona, Wiesbaden (Germany), Pistoia (Italy) and Fukuoka (Japan) got involved in the SBC initiative. The latest incorporation has been Ipoh, in Malaysia. These initiatives are being developed in very different realities, especially regarding the size of the cities which are taking part. In Pistoia, for example, the program is carried out by the University of Florence. In Barcelona, we have four public universities and a large number of private universities and business schools. We have obtained the commitment of all the public universities and four private universities. So, the initiative in Barcelona requires the articulation of an extensive city; it also calls to deal with the multiplicity and complexity of all the actors involved. On the other hand, it should be noted that Barcelona presents a great, strong and rooted civil society where many alternative forms of production and consumption have developed throughout the years; forms such as cooperatives are traditionally very powerful in Catalonia. In this sense, there’s a big task of including, cooperating and interacting with all the actors. Social entities and social businesses, universities, private entities, the third sector and the Barcelona city council are involved in the project since its inception.

Lab 'co-creating social business'
Lab “co-creating social business”

What are your main challenges today?

Our main objective now is to spread the concept of social business, to make visible other ways of doing business where economic activity becomes a potential and sustainable tool to face the social needs and challenges. It is necessary to give support and awareness to civil society that there are many initiatives and entrepreneurs that are creating business from a critical, transformative and committed social perspective. With SBC, we are supporting and promoting the creation of these companies that are based on social, environmental and cultural view, which allow the introduction of transformative perspectives and relationship to change the rules, and the type of thinking required for a radical transformation of the economic system. In order to achieve that, on the one hand, we’re doing a lot of training activities in universities and schools; we grant several awards for the best social business projects to university and professional training students, and we’re launching communication campaigns and activities that involve civil society. On the other hand, we’re carrying out the Lab Co-Creating Social Business, which offers support to social entrepreneurs: an intensive workplace, workshops, support and advice in the process of creation a new social business.

Are you engaged with the Sustainable Development Goals?

We’re engaged with SDG because we think it’s totally necessary to adopt this set of goals as a part of a new sustainable development global agenda. We think in a global way and consider that all these goals should be intrinsic to all activities of all organizations, in the common world we’re living in. However, we’re working from a territorial vision, through the identification of different social challenges which must be faced in Barcelona. The first main challenge identified was to reduce youth unemployment in the city, an unsustainable situation which requires to be approached immediately, by the cooperation and implication of all the city’s agents. To revert this problem will take time and effort. That is why we need sustainable and coordinated solutions, focused towards the reduction of youth unemployment, but guaranteeing sustainability and maximization of its social impact in the future, and counting on the youth community as agents who can transform a reality that affects them directly. Some of other challenges we are working on are high pollution rates, migrations, negative tourism effects in the city, right to housing, or education.

In your opinion, are civil society and private sector more aware and committed to social businesses?

In the recent years, we have witnessed a series of events, both locally and globally, which have shaken the dominant socio-economic structures, demonstrating the need to re-think and transform the system. We grew up in a context where the hegemonic economic actors have shown to prioritize growth measured in personal profits at the expense of the interests based on people and common welfare, where business relations have strengthened poverty, exclusion, social inequality, and environmental devastation. But for a long time, different and alternatives ways of doing business have been raised, showing that other forms of production, exchange and consumption is not only possible, but a reality. One way of doing business is where economic activity becomes a potential tool to face challenges and social needs. In a distressing global reality, we believe that people are becoming more aware of the importance of betting for sustainable and responsible ways of life; and we believe that it’s absolutely necessary for a committed and aware civil society to generate new public policies favourable to this socio-economic change.

Teaching
Teaching a course of social economy at the university

Horyou is a social network for the social good. How important is to have social networks engaging and promoting social businesses?

We think it’s crucial to place the new forms of communication, of sharing information and knowledge at the service of social and sustainable proposals. It’s evident that social networks present new opportunities, intensifying the connections and the possibilities of cooperation. So we think it’s necessary to redirect this innovative tools towards new ways of collaboration in order to co-create and build collective knowledge and experience around social enterprises and social economy.

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

More Stories

UN End Hunger goal is to achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture Horyou’s new series is about the UN Sustainable Development...