A community of young social innovators that transform intention into action.
We support them in building social enterprises that find solutions to the most challenging issues of our time. We play, we experiment, we dream big, we work hard. We are 100% human and radically collaborative. We do so by hosting events and organizing workshops to raise awareness for social entrepreneurship, teaching the necessary skills to navigate from vague intentions to promising ventures, providing access to networks and promoting the best teams with the Social Impact Award.
Our core beliefs and theory of change
We believe in the potential of students to make a difference. We build on the assumption and experience that a large majority of students wants to have a positive impact in society and has the talent and energy to do so.
We believe in the entrepreneurial process as an ideal means for students to unleash this potential. The path of developing a social venture helps students connect with their aspirations for a better society and their creative talent. It invites them to take an active role as citizens, get in touch with reality and to collaboratively articulate and test workable solutions to societal challenges. Joining this process in a supportive environment provides students with a potentially transformative learning experience: in tools, concepts and practice of social entrepreneurship, in teamwork, and – most importantly – in their own capability to create positive impact.
We believe that this experience is valuable for students and society, regardless of whether students choose to apply their learning as social entrepreneurs, in public or private organizations or other forms of civic engagement in course or after Social Impact Award. Therefore, we aim to increase the number and preparedness of students that use their talent for creating impact.
With over 20 million students in the EU alone, we see an enormous potential for educating and supporting the next generation of social entrepreneurs in Europe. Currently, only a few percent of these students get in touch with the topics of entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship throughout their formal education and even less receive support in building social ventures. We believe that Social Impact Award holds to promise to reach many more of these students and help them unleashing their social entrepreneurial talent.
Our Pledge - Principles
Learning, not winning
The slogan "everyone is a winner" might be reserved by the Olympics, but the idea definitely holds true for Social Impact Award. Normal awards generate few winners and many losers. While using the architecture of an award with its many advantages (strong narrative, incentives, clear structures, etc.), we try to be "anti-award" and allocate our attention to the many participants rather than the few winners. The highest priority of SIA is the educational program and the entrepreneurial experience of participants. While some get support and money in the end (and may become an inspiration for next years’ participants) and others don't, everyone has access to the full curriculum and offerings of SIA and gets the chance to experience social entrepreneurship for themselves.
Social Impact Award does not want to missionize students into becoming social entrepreneurs. Instead, we want to offer a friendly, supportive environment to learn what social entrepreneurship is and try it out. If students like it and put social entrepreneurial thinking in practice, that is great. If not, they could meet and become supporters of other social entrepreneurs in the future.
Accessible to everyone
We try to reduce all the barriers that keep from participating: lack of information, disciplinary and languages barriers, geographic constraints, prejudice, and many others. We pursue a low-barrier approach by running workshops in all relevant student cities and not just the capitals, offering formats and websites in the local language, choosing barrier-free workshop locations, avoiding business lingo where possible, answering all requests fast, etc. Most importantly, we spread our information broadly among students of all disciplines and geographic locations.
In most places we are the first, and in some, the only point of contact to social entrepreneurship for students. Let's make sure the conversation is at the eye level.
Transparency and feedback culture
Feedback is the lifeblood of learning. Therefore we put an emphasis on one-on-one feedback in our workshops (e.g. Meet the Jury), in conversations with participants and when screening the project submissions.
Every project submission receives a written feedback tailored to his/her project helping them to move forward.
We judge our own actions on the same principles as we judge our students’ submissions:
- Innovation: are we reaching those students who have otherwise limited or no access to quality social entrepreneurship education?
- Impact: Are we creating impact in scope and scale for them and their ventures?
- Feasibility: Are we acquiring the financial, intellectual and social resources necessary to run SIA in a sustainable manner?
Entrepreneurial in actions
We’re all in it together. We set the first example to the students we reach. We apply the learning we try to promote. We constantly strive to create more value for the students and our supporters and partners.