start ups

With a mission statement focusing on childhood cancer support, the Boston-based Richi Foundation has bold objectives via an initiative called Richi Social Entrepreneurs which supports new innovative businesses to generate positive impact in society. Their immersion programs, counselling and sharing of entrepreneurship best practices seek to help shape the future of social innovation. The Horyou blog interviewed Ernest Lara, Executive Director of Richi Social Entrepreneurs.

Richi Immersion Team
Richi Immersion Team

What is Richi Foundation’s mission?

Richi Social Entrepreneurs (RSE) is a Richi Foundation initiative whose mission is to boost startups from around the world that have the potential to generate a substantial positive impact on society, by connecting them with Boston’s innovation key players and helping them take full advantage of this unique innovation ecosystem.

How did The Richi Foundation get started?.

In 2011, the founder’s son, Richi, was diagnosed with an aggressive medulloblastoma. His family, who was living in Spain, brought Richi to Dana Farber, where they literally saved his life. It was then that Richi’s father, Ricardo Garcia, a serial entrepreneur, decided to found the Richi Childhood Cancer Foundation to provide other children with the same opportunity that Richi had. We have built a strategy to raise funds through business units (initiatives) that provide value to society in sectors such as education, innovation & entrepreneurship, and culture. Richi Social Entrepreneurs is one of those initiatives.

You have an immersion program for social entrepreneurs. How does it work?

Our main program at RSE is named Boston Immersion. It is a three-week eye-opening bootcamp in Boston. Startups have the opportunity to embrace best practices from Boston’s unique ecosystem, and to connect and interact with potential clients, investors, strategic partners, and local top notch industry experts who lead them to outstanding synergies.

Social entrepreneurs attend lectures in the immersion program
Social entrepreneurs attending lectures in the immersion program

You have a strong commitment to social entrepreneurship. Can you share some of your projects in this area?

We have worked with very interesting social entrepreneurship projects in our past program editions, which now are RSE Alumni, such as Literates, PIC, and H20 Now. We like to emphasize that, for us, a social entrepreneur is anyone who provides a positive impact to society or environment with his project, being a startup or a traditional for-profit organization. This means that any life sciences or cleantech startup is perfectly eligible to participate in our program.

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

Generally speaking, for any entrepreneur, some main challenges are: being able to obtain enough deep knowledge about the unmet need the startup wants to address, and finding the correct fit between this unmet need and the value proposition. Additionally, de-risking the project by generating evidences / results to justify that the project is moving towards the right direction is also challenging (partly because of the economic resources needed to prove the assumptions). It’s also essential to convince key stakeholders that they should care about their project (which requires excellent communication skills and strategic focus).

What are the main aspects of a social business you evaluate in order to give it support?

One important thing for us is to make sure that the startup has (or is testing) a business model able to support the organization’s operations and scale globally. Then, we tend to support projects with a high technological or scientific component. And of course, the team is key. It’s key that projects are carried out by complementary teams and supported by experienced sectoral experts.

Entrepreneurs visiting Harvard University
Entrepreneurs visiting Harvard University

How do you see the future of social entrepreneurship?

Every time we see more and more startups trying to provide a positive impact to society or environment with their projects, and this is great. So we think social entrepreneurs will have, every time, more resources and help to boost their businesses.

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 are a great place to learn about new players, resources and influencers. So social networks focused on social entrepreneurs for us is a great tool to meet new projects and stakeholders to collaborate with.

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!

Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum
Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum

It´s time to innovate! Horyou, the social network for social good, is receiving project applications for the next edition of the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum (SIGEF), a side event during COP 22 in Marrakesh, Morocco, from November 9-11. The call for the Project Awards is addressed to students, social entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations and startups with a deadline set at September 20th.

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria, which include addressing at least one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, and use their best efforts to raise awareness and gain online support for their project. They also need to sign in on the Horyou Platform; registration is free of charge.

SIGEF Horyou

During the SIGEF, an international jury will select 10 finalists who will present their projects on stage to a global audience of entrepreneurs, government officials and decision-makers, as well as the media and civil society. A monetary prize paid in Spotlights, the first social global currency for economic inclusion, will be awarded to the 3 best projects, during a high profile international award ceremony. Selected participants will get free access to the event to gain international visibility and the opportunity to expand their network.

For more information about the SIGEF 2016 Call for Projects, go to this link or send an email to


SIGEF 2016 is the leading side event during COP 22, in Marrakesh, Morocco, from 9-11 November. SIGEF 2016 is organized by Horyou to give visibility to initiatives that contribute to advancing social innovation, global ethics, and social good worldwide, along the lines of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. One of the key components of SIGEF 2016 is the Projects Hub, an area dedicated to socially innovative and ethical projects.

Plenary sessions, workshops, panels as well as cultural activities, networking events and interviews will take place during the 3 days of the event.

EYA 2015 Winners
EYA 2015 Winners

Since 2009, the European Youth Award have been rewarding youth innovation and creativity in technology. The award is an undertaking of the International Center for New Media (ICNM), a member of Horyou, the social network for social good, which also organizes special events and grants awards to support innovation and entrepreneurship.

This year, EYA’s applications are open to European entrepreneurs, startups and students who dream to develop their creative potential and benefit from some of Europe’s leading business personalities’ mentoring. Speaking for ICNM, Birgit Kolb has granted us the following interview.

EYA Festival Workshop
EYA Festival Workshop

– What is EYA and when was it created?

The European Youth Award (EYA) is a pan-European contest for young people, entrepreneurs and startups creating digital projects to improve society. It was called into life in 2012 by Prof. Peter A. Bruck, Honorary Chairman of the International Center for New Media, and is conducted under the patronage of the Council of Europe and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities.

The Winners Event (EYA Festival) is a unique event combining knowledge, innovation, networking, inspiration and motivation. It takes place in Graz, Austria, in November of each year.

– What are your goals in supporting innovation among youth?

The goals of the European Youth Award are

  1. Showcasing and promoting the most innovative digital projects by young developers, entrepreneurs and start-ups from all over Europe.
  2. Demonstrating young people’s creative potential and entrepreneurial spirit.
  3. Taking action on Europe’s most pressing issues such as employment, resource management, health, education, urban development, cultural diversity and social inclusion.
  4. Contributing to the progress towards the goals defined for Europe 2020 by the Council of Europe.
  5. Connecting next generation of IT pioneers with experienced experts from business, technology, education and science.
  6. Encouraging inspiration and international exchange of knowledge, ideas and visions.
Festival Gala Ceremony
Festival Gala Ceremony

– In times of technology and business disruptions, how do you support socially and environmentally responsible innovations?

We believe that knowledge and a vibrant network are the key factors for success. Therefore, we support EYA Winners by giving them an international stage to pitch their project and get comprehensive feedback from experts, mentors and students analyzing the winning projects profoundly.

The EYA network is a most vibrant and lively one. Individuals attending one of our events usually say that it is a very unique experience that they would have never wanted to miss. They usually feel like they have become a member of a new family where they can receive support and guidance any time.

That’s how we think that socially and environmentally responsible innovations can be supported best.

– Can you mention some interesting innovative projects that participated in the last editions?

Sure, plenty! All of the EYA winners are very unique. Perhaps the following links are good examples to show the great variety of EYA and its projects: I Mirabilia, Jerry Do It Together , GovFaces and Aprendices Visuales.

European Youth Awards
European Youth Awards

– How many applications do you expect this year? Call the Horyou community to participate and apply their projects!

We expect more than 100 applications this year. The deadline is on July 31 – we kindly invite the Horyou community to take this unique chance and apply now with their creative, digital project with impact on society!

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