• Major reasons why we are bringing the Social Impact Award to Tunisia.

    What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear “Tunisia”? Sandy beaches? A hot Sahara with Camels? Welcoming people or maybe spicy food? Well, Tunisia has much more to offer than great touristic facilities as well as warmth and hospitality.

    This small country has a great potential to turn into a hub for African and MENA entrepreneurs and a regional leader of empowered youth advancing their communities and moving the Tunisian society forward. But still, there is a quite long way to go.


    Although, Tunisia is perceived as one of the countries that came out from the Arab Spring as a success story, the country faces significant unemployment rates and other social issues, in particular increasing after the so-called Jasmine Revolution.

    “Young people are capable of doing much more today than ever in the history of the mankind” – Muhammad Yunus

    Around 200,000 Tunisians between the ages of 18 and 34 are unemployed, desperate for work and a livable wage. In such an environment where the existing legislature to a lesser extend is considered as entrepreneurship-friendly but where the society requires immediate responses to the youth problems and demands concrete tools for action, the Social Impact Award provides a viable platform that would not only present a pathway for youngsters into the business world, but also will transform them into active agents in their societies.

    “Young people are capable of doing much more today than ever in the history of the mankind” said the great Muhammad Yunus, one of the pioneers of social entrepreneurship. This is the momentum, we, young active Tunisians want to use and to empower youth in our country to join the ride and initiate businesses that will make our society move forward!


    There are four main reasons that motivated us to bring the Social Impact Award to Tunisia and for the first time in the MENA region:

    • Promoting social entrepreneurship within the Tunisian youth

    We already have some NGOs that are doing their best to promote social entrepreneurship but still there are many students who do not have any idea about the concept. In addition, most of social entrepreneurship competitions are limited to some parts of the countries or to some universities. Here comes the Social Impact Award Tunisia to give the chance to anyone with an idea that solves a real problem to participate independently of his region or university.

    In addition to that, after the revolution in 2011, the need for social solutions from the government, NGOs or Businesses has become huge and people are waiting for anyone of these to take the initiative to solve the different problems that we are suffering from. But still we need a new mindset that teaches them how to see problems as opportunities, that social entrepreneurship is an option that should be considered the same way as classical entrepreneurship, that every citizen has a positive role to play and that every initiative has to make a positive impact on its environment.

    Furthermore, we perceive SIA as a great tool for youth empowerment in Tunisia as it is not solely focused on the for profit ideas as most of the business planning or existing entrepreneurship competitions in the country, but it also opens the doors for people with non-for-profit ideas that can also solve problems.


    •  Enhancing job opportunities for youth

    SIA not only helps young people turn their ideas into realities but also increases access to employment since it gives participants the opportunity to acquire a lot of skills such as team work, pitching, business modeling, public speaking etc. Employers look nowadays for graduates with soft skills who were active and who got the chance to discover what business really is. SIA will absolutely empower students, gives them more confidence in themselves and opens many doors for their careers independently from their ranking in the competition.


    • Showcasing Tunisians’ potential on the international level

    Tunisia has some local success stories in social entrepreneurship but does not have yet a social enterprise that went global after starting locally. People here need access to an international community that might include entrepreneurs who have similar projects and international experts/mentors who can help them go international. Also Tunisians need access to international opportunities such as funding; mentoring programs etc and being part of SIA network will certainly be very useful for them. By offering the chance to 3 projects from Tunisia to go to Vienna to network with other teams from Europe, we are giving them access to the international media, to international investors and we are giving them the opportunity to collaborate and make connections with people who might help them and support their initiatives.  


    • Empowerment and identity-change of the young Tunisians by embracing the   concept of social entrepreneurship.

    The social entrepreneurship ecosystem has been rapidly developing in the country since 2011, but the need for a community of change makers through social innovation persists. The new social innovators should not only be focused on finding solutions of the existing societal problems, but should provide an identity-change, in particular among the younger population. And it is exactly how we would like to use SIA, to bring it closer to our youth, to inspire, educate and train them and to empower them to become self-confident, initiative and proactive individuals, embracing the social entrepreneurship not only as their occupation, but as their lifestyle


    What’s NEXT?

    Having SIA in Tunisia we are starting not only our – Tunisian path to empowered youth, but even more, we make a solid step hopefully to be duplicated in the whole MENA region. Only in this way, by having youngsters ready to take the initiative and contribute to a better society we can assure prosperity and bright future in all the MENA countries. We believe that Tunisia, as it was the first spark of the Arabic spring and was duplicated in many other MENA countries, will be the pilot country of SIA before a promising expansion to bring the spirit of the Social Entrepreneurship closer to the Arabic youngsters.


    “The launch of SIA in Tunisia marks a major step in the promotion of social entrepreneurship on the national and Maghreb levels. The partnership between 2521 Project and SIA represents a milestone in the path of social enterprises and their development in the region. Social impact becomes a necessity for sustainable enterprises and a better future”

    Kaouther SFAR GANDOURA, Project Manager 2521 Project by We love Sousse


    “SIA and EL SPACE happen to have the same vision for a collaborative and humane society based on social innovation and entrepreneurship. We are looking forward to make this happen”

    Adnen Ben Haj, Co-founder EL SPACE Social Innovation Hub


    Author : Yahya Marzouk / Editor : Ahmed Hadhri / Chief-Editor: Tizian Müllritter 
  • The Growing Trend of Doing Good – Social Entrepreneurship

    Thanks to the hard work and the growing presence of social entrepreneurship in society, last year was a year of significant achievements. Social Entrepreneurship is shifting economy, while we are shifting our minds.

    The highlight in our local Social Impact Award community last year was – “Iskra”, a prestige corporate philanthropy award by Erste Bank Montenegro.

    “By reducing the meaning of the term ‘social responsibility’ and labeling its actions ‘philanthropic’ and ‘volunteer activities’, unjustifiably excludes the dimension of the long term and sustainable development. SIA provides an opportunity for students in Montenegro to implement their ideas of social entrepreneurship, which will further improve the general environment. The final aim is to encourage the development of entrepreneurial awareness among students, encouraging and empowering them to step forward.”- Dragana Crvenica, Head of Communications at Erste Bank Montenegro.

    Both the Bank support and the award are great indicators that our society increasingly recognizes importance of corporate social responsibility on one end, and social businesses, on the other. We are living in a wildly exciting time which requires constant changes and new solutions to old problems. Therefore, it is no longer enough to just turn a good profit and be competitive in the market, new generations of customers require companies to benefit the whole society!


    The New Purpose of Success – Giving Back to the Community 

    What we are witnessing is a mind switch – one that brings out a whole new aspect of Business. But, the Business cannot change without the mindset of the people running them or buying/using their products.

    To have a society where every individual is appreciated, we need to be individuals that appreciate themselves first.  The organic food trend is a good example how by caring about our own health we can strengthen small businesses and support local economy. Social entrepreneurship is for society what organic food is for the individual – it’s the vitamin injection for society. We initiate social changes for ourselves, living by values which we believe in.

    We’ve discussed the trend with Nikolaus Hutter, Co-Founder of the Investment Ready Program in Vienna and investor himself, which works with young social entrepreneurs who are driving the change. He connects the “economy shift” with the value system of new generations:

    “The Millennials choose to have a different perspective of how they consume products, how they want to work or invest, and it’s because of their experiences. Unlike their parents, they didn’t experience global wars and hunger. So, for millennials this isn’t a memory, it’s history. The only economic reality they have experienced is having more than they need. That’s why we see trends like sharing economy, sharing cars, flat sharing, couch surfing, etc.”


    This generation has a different perception: Access is fine; I don’t need the ownership because it only comes with burden. Not being burdened by history, their attitude is different, and their consciousness comes naturally. They haven’t been socialized in the toxic mindset of previous generations, so Millennials are reverting to natural state of how to do things, introducing new criteria: I don’t want to work in a company that doesn’t match with my conscience and I don’t want to buy products if the way they are produced, packaged or what they are is against my values.


    We asked Nikolaus, if social entrepreneurship is just a current trend.

    “Yes, but I think there is more than what we call Social Entrepreneurship today. What we are facing is a broader mind shift, which consists of looking how to develop our economic system. How we produce, how we consume, how we invest, and it is more oriented in terms of purpose of WHY towards WHAT MATTERS. Also, the WHY is not just to make money under the assumption that money can buy you everything worthwhile in life. It is obviously not true. Then comes the new WHAT: Purpose driven business and collaborative work; and with that also comes a new HOW: Collaborative rather confrontational, network rather than hierarchical, sustainable rather than exploitative”.


    Creating Change Where and When It Matters

    Social Impact Award has been supporting (student) social businesses in 58 cities, reaching 4.600+ participants with almost 200 workshops. The businesses of 500 students are supported, with data showing that 60% are being implemented and 35% are generating revenue. The program provides a way to pool the youth into social entrepreneurship, as a model of creating social change, and is constantly increasing.

    Some examples across the spectrum of businesses initiated in the past couple of years are already creating impact in burning topics for the region:

    Refugeeswork.at. from Austria, SIA 2016 winners, is a charitable initiative which developed a model to connect refugees with employers in order to help refugees find legal working and education opportunities in line with their skills.


    House for Everyone from Romania, SIA 2015 winners are creating housing prototypes for people in need of shelter, which can revolutionize the lives of refugees, homeless and other marginalized groups with low income.


    And in Montenegro, we have a pioneering effort focused on lessening gap between the poor North of Montenegro and rest of the country, by creating a platform for presentation and purchase of natural agricultural products made in the North. The solution creates easier access of homemade, healthy, domestic products to consumers in the country and region, enabling a bigger income for farmers and directly supporting small businesses.

    It can be done. So, who’s next?

    Author: Sanja Zrnic  / Chief-Editor: Tizian Müllritter

  • “Social entrepreneurs are brave and passionate people, who are not afraid to fight the windmills.” – Nikoleta Kosovac

    Nikoleta Kosovac is a coordinator of the street papers Liceulice, as well as SIA Serbia 2016 Jury member. She joined us at the beginning of the year at the Belgrade Kick-off and followed the journey of SIA throughout the year. Thanks to her enthusiasm, we managed to create a strong partnership and help each other along the way. We talked about Liceulice, but also her view on the young social entrepreneurship scene. 


    Nikoleta, street paper Liceulice (meaning Face to Face and Face of the Street – word play) has been active for 6 years now in Serbia. Tell us something about how the idea of starting this paper came about and how you got involved in it. foto-skullcheez-3

    The idea of starting street papers in Serbia started 8 years ago, when our current president of Executive board – Branislav Trifunovic visited Sovakia and there, by accident, met sellers of their street papers. Upon returning home, he wanted to do something similar to help those with difficulties finding a job, who live at the sidelines of our society. As he had never done something like this before, he started gathering people interested in starting the paper in our country.  For those who don’t know what street papers are, I will just mention briefly that those are the papers sold by the members of marginalized groups. Sellers earn half of each sold copy, and the other half goes into creation of the next issue.

    Liceulice strives to present non-commercial topics in an interesting way. Street papers open up a space for new people and new topics – everything that is being pushed away from the commercial media or that hasn’t been given enough attention. We try to draw attention to important social issues, but through examples of good practice, personal stories of our heroes and so on.

    foto-skullcheez-1How I got into all that? At first I thought by accident, but now I am sure it was no coincidence. I worked in advertising for a couple of years, and was less and less fulfilled by it. A friend mentioned to me this project and thought I would fit in. I went to meet the people gathered around the idea, and as soon as we met each other, it was clear that we are going to work together. I wanted to believe in what I do and to feel better at the end of the day, and Liceulice brought so much more to me.


    What is the change you noticed in your sellers in the past 6 years? 

    In the last 6 years, we worked with a couple of hundreds of people, and we currently have about 60 people active in Belgrade daily. Liceulice is a side job to some, and the only job for the others. Sellers decide themselves when and how much they will work. They often say that communicating with people on the streets is more important to them than money. Some were shy at the beginning, quiet, introverts, and today they are among the most talkative, most resourceful and most successful ones.

    The change is evident and shown in the level of their confidence. They feel Liceulice as something of their own and are not shy to share personal stories with the rest of the team. Some of the sellers got other jobs in the meantime, while some have improved their sales skills, and are now teaching others. Couple of sellers were homeless, and now, thanks to our help and the help of our partner organizations, they have a roof above their head.

    It is also important to mention that street papers build a relationship between sellers and readers, because the sale is done face to face. This interaction build bridges between marginalized and wider public. This helps people understand the importance of social inclusion and brings to realization that we, as humans, are the same – we just don’t have the same opportunities.

    We, as humans, are the same – we just don’t have the same opportunities.

    What is the biggest success you had so far, and what the biggest defeat when it comes to Liceulice? 

    Our biggest success is that we are still here and not giving up, despite many obstacles. Throughout the years, we 13880422_have worked on social and economic empowerment of couple of hundreds of people, published 33 issues of magazine, initiated similar movements in Macedonia and Kosovo, organized 2 street activism festivals, had 7 cycles of workshops on the topic of activist design for young artists, worked with dozens of volunteers, cooperated with many NGOs, individuals, professionals, activists and so on.

    We are proud to say that Liceulice has become noted and influential member of International Network of Street Papers (INSP). At INSP conferences, we were nominated for 6 awards for our articles, photographs and design. We weren’t really aware of the community we have created, until the biggest financial crisis hit us this summer.

    Our biggest success are the people for whom this exists, people who believe in this story and people who work day and night to make this happen.

    The biggest failure is the fact that Liceulice has not been recognized by the city government and relevant institutions. Not just financial support, but support in many other ways, is necessary for the street papers to function. We believe this will change one day. Maybe when we celebrate our 10th birthday. We will see.

    Maybe it would be best if I just mention the words of Kruno Lokotar, editor and publisher: “Liceulice, along with the progress of medicine, is the only reason of optimism that comes to my mind.”

    How do you see the role of youth when it comes to solving social issues? 

    The theme of our last issue is Serbian youth, their social and economic inclusion (or exclusion). When we talk about youth, hot topic is education to which we devoted the most of our attention. Our younger associates shed a light on other important aspects of youth lifestyle, from moving to a bigger city for studies, to omnipresent precarious work and return to the small city environment.

    foto-andjela-petrovskiWe must remember that youth is among the most vulnerable groups in Serbia. But also, that those who can, contribute to solving social problems in various ways. However, we should not expect too much from youth as it has a lot to carry on its backs. Even though everyone says that youth is our future, they cannot solve social problems without connecting with others who are in this fight.


    The youth cannot solve social problems without connecting with others who are in this fight causing social injustice.

    Why did you join SIA Serbia as a jury member? 

    I’ve known members of the SIA team for quite some time and have followed closely what you have been doing, and I am very proud of the whole teams. When I was invited to take part in SIA Serbia as a jury member, there was only one possible answer!

    Where do you see youth social entrepreneurs in 5 years? 

    Social entrepreneurs are brave and passionate people, who are not afraid to fight the windmills.I would like to know where do they see themselves in 5 years. (laughs)

    Non-formal community of social entrepreneurs is developing rapidly in Serbia and it is going (in my opinion) in the right direction. More and more great and successful ideas are developing, while international cooperation keeps improving. Social entrepreneurs are brave and passionate people, who are not afraid to fight the windmills.

    I believe there are many young social entrepreneurs who you will be interviewing like this in 5 years.

    Thank you Nikoleta for this amazing interview – and your support for SIA! 

  • SIA Romania received the Entrepreneurship Award at the Gala of Romanian Youth


    Social Impact Award Romania received recognition for its work this year from the Romanian Ministry of Youth and Sports. During the 3rd edition of the Gala of Romanian Youth, SIA was considered by the jury as the most relevant project at the Entrepreneurship category.



    More than 124 projects competed for the 2016 Edition of the Gala of Romanian Youth. Their activities involved over 80.000 young people this year with a total budget of almost 2,5 million euro spread around the country. The Gala took place within the Romanian Youth Capital Program which has been granted the High Patronage of the Romanian President. Besides the awards, the Gala also had a series of interventions by senior officials like: Ms. Elisabeta Lipa, Minister of Youth and Sports, Ms. Ligia Deca, Advisor to the President of Romania or Mr. Nicolae Robu, Mayor of Timisoara.


    This year the SIA Romania teams organized 15 social entrepreneurship workshops in 5 cities across Romania, involving over 300 young people.

    Social Impact Award Romania has reached its 5th edition this year and ambitions for the next years are high. This year the SIA Romania teams organized 15 social entrepreneurship workshops in 5 cities across Romania, involving over 300 young people. These events offered the opportunity for an in depth conversation of what social innovation is and a series of co-working tools: idea generation and business model workshops or business planning opportunities. 9 teams were selected in May as Finalists. These spent the summer incubating their businesses and participating to various workshops with SIA Romania partners. The 3 winning teams received financial support and travelled to Vienna in October to meet other 30 SIA winner teams from across Europe.

    The 2017 plan for SIA Romania is ambitious, following the international agenda of development and growth. SIA Romania educational program will take place next year in 8 cities, reaching more than 700 young people and offering the opportunity for 15 social businesses to enter the finalists list and have a change of winning the competition.


    As the number of countries in which SIA takes place at international level will double next year, this global program becomes one of the most relevant and transformative opportunity for young innovators. SIA Romania is proud to be part of this and will continue to extend its impact for creating social change.





  • Social entrepreneurship is also a chance to excite a new generation of talent to engage in activities that are positive for society. – Peter Vandor

    Peter Vandor is the founder and scientific director of SIA. He is also the initiator of the first university course on social entrepreneurship in Austria, which has won several awards at WU. We asked him a few interesting question:

    peter-vandor-portraitSIA is a program around Social Entrepreneurship. Why do you think that S.E. is a promising approach to tackle the key challenges of our times?

    One of the main DNA-strands of Social Entrepreneurship is innovation. The discourse is very much centered around questions such as “how can we think about social challenges in new ways? What could we transfer what works from very different contexts?”. Such questions can be very powerful to come up with good answers to challenges in a complex world. Of course, innovation is no dogma, we cannot expect our existing solutions to continue working while problems, the affected individuals and the environment change in a rapid pace.

    From a systemic point of view, social entrepreneurship is also a chance to excite a new generation of talent to engage in activities that are positive for society and this change is happening. 15 years ago, most students at my university wanted to become investment bankers. Now, entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs are the rock stars on the campus.

    Looking at the state of the world today, what do you expect from the current generation of students?

    The same I expect from myself: try to have a positive overall effect on the world in their small and big decisions, from a job decision to the question when it is really necessary to blast vast amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere for long haul travelling. This is a big thing to ask and I personally regularly at it fail, but we have try, and try better especially when we face large-scale threats like climate change.

    Why is WU Vienna engaged in SIA?

    wuwienMy motivation to start SIA was a very personal one. I had wanted to be engaged in the field of social entrepreneurship as a student but have found no matching offers in my university, no courses to learn about the topic or to play around with it. So the intention was to create something like this for others. This intention has since then been shared by my colleagues at WU and I received the opportunity to continue to work with SIA on topics where we can add competencies, such as research, the design of the academic curriculum and strategy.

    You are also in charge of the impact assessment of the program. Why do you consider this as important?

    Our impact assessment activities, among others including the use of international surveys, allow us to learn systematically what is really going on in the program, what works for students and what not. This is very important for a program on this scale. After all we want to make sure that the program is effective in all countries and for all stakeholders. Also, it allows as to enter a systematic dialogue with participants and learn about their perspective on social entrepreneurship. For example, when I learn that more than 70% say that they believe so strongly in their idea that they will implement it, regardless of whether they win SIA or not, I know that we have managed to attract the right kind of people to our award.


    Thank you Peter for this interesting interview!

  • The victory of Social Impact Award gave us everything you need to start a race. – Czechitas

    Czechitas are specialized in IT and believe that women can be as good as men in such an area. Their team is formed by twelve strong and self-confident girls, who are trying to break stereotypes in IT area and to show the girl’s power. They started to organize workshops based on IT skills and to educate women in it. Czechitas´ workshops became so popular that they decided to open a special IT school only for gentle gender.  

    In 2015 you won the Social Impact Award in Czech Republic. What does the victory mean to you after one year? Have you been moved by the experience of winning SIA? 

    I can’t believe it has been already a year! What a fantastic year! What a race! The victory of Social Impact Award in September 2015 gave us everything you need to start a race. A lot of confidence to stand up at starting lane right next to other contestants (entrepreneurs), many fans cheering, established team and also some kind of qualification, meaning that we are social entrepreneurs so we can do good and be independent, sustainable business at the same time. So the others should watch out. (They are smiling.)


    IT area is considered to be a men matter. Do you have succes in breaking stereotypes? Do women tend to continue in IT thanks to you?

    Sure we do! That is the main reason why we get up every Monday morning. We have more than 3800 graduates from our courses and as result, we motivated more than 50 women to change their careers entirely. Because women can do IT.

    Do you remember any serious problem which happened to you during the workshop?

    Yes, I remember that one day the wifi didn’t work at all and we couldn’t use data from Cloud. It was actually pretty fun, you have to see the bright side of the life.


    What do you think is the reason of stereotypes in IT area?

    Well, IT area is very male-dominant so no surprise that people make their stereotypes. So why there are no women in IT? We realized that there are three things behind those stereotypes: (1) the lack of female IT role models at schools and families, among teachers and moms, CEOs and leaders at Czech IT scene make us think of IT specialists as men (2) the lack of confidence and (3) the lack of information about IT education, careers and opportunities. We can change all of them.

    page-14-cz_czechitas-1Where are you heading to at the moment? Don’t you have in mind to open a special IT girl/women school? 

    Exactly. It has actually become short-term goal! We are opening our first pilot Digital Academy for Women in January, offering full-time IT (data based) education for 3 months to 20-30 women. It is going to be very practical, challenging but amazing opportunity to raise new talents in IT.


    What do you like (enjoy) the most about your work?

    I love every single part of it. That feeling you have on Monday morning when you wake up and are very excited about the entire week. When you appreciate every challenge and opportunity you meet and everyone in your team. Surrounded by those and them I am growing. And of course I love the flexibility… time wise but also in visions.


    Good luck girls! We wish you all the best!

  • Students are inexhaustible source of inspiration and innovation; they come up with something new every day and have ideas that can change the world – Branka Novcic

    Branka Novcic, teaching assistant at the Faculty of Organizational Sciences (FOS) in Belgrade, is one of the most respected and loved among students. Branka studied at FOS herself, and has won many awards on international competitions for the faculty. She is now devoted to ehancing the experience of her students and helping them learn practical skills for the “real world”.  

    Branka is also SIA Serbia Jury member, and is actively promoting SIA and social entrepreneurship among students. We talked with her about the works she does with students and social entrepreneurship in general.

    Tell us something abut your work with students. How did you decide that you want to work at the university? 

    32ee3c4I started working at the faculty accidentally, as I accepted the job with an idea to “buy some time” before deciding where I want to work. However, it turned out that this was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Having participated in various case studies and competitions as a student, I continued working in this area, but now as a mentor. It was the experience in these case studies that helped me when I started working with students, because my teaching method is based on learning practical skills and through examples. Today, going into classroom is the most valuable part of my job as I am aware of the privilege that I have and the impact I make teaching these young minds.

    You are communicating with students daily. Do you see innovation in the way they think about business? 

    Students are inexhaustible source of inspiration and innovation; they come up with something new every day and have ideas that can change the world. It is up to us to move them in the right direction and support their wishes, as well as give them the necessary knowledge to make those wishes come true.

    How have you become interested in social business? 

    I became interested in social business in 2011 when we applied for Hult Global Case Challenge, a global crowdsourcing platform on the topic of social entrepreneurship. To be honest, I didn’t know much about it before this, but we learned a lot very quickly and started working on a project for the poor neighborhoods on the topic of water supply and sanitation.

    Do not run away from social entrepreneurship, because this is a profitable area too.

    Do you talk about social businesses with your students and how do they react to this? 

    3Part of my job is presenting the successes FOS teams had on international competitions. As it turns out, our two biggest successes were at before mentioned Hult Global Case Challenge in 2011 and 2012, when we represented Europe in finals and had significant results. Therefore, our students are informed about this, but then it is my job to bring closer to them what we did and why were we so successful. Student reactions and getting better each year and more of them is becoming interested in the topic. We have most definitely raised awareness of social entrepreneurship among our students and tore down some taboos.

    Your expertise is in marketing and PR. How important is this field for the development od social business ecosystem in Serbia? 

    When developing business model, marketing is everywhere, but it is more important to understand the problem itself and adequate recognition of needs and characteristics of target groups. Actually, in those beggining steps of business model development, market analysis and segmentation are two phases where most business models fail. If that is done in the right way, the implementation of marketing plan is the cheery on the top. Therefore, understanding the problem, market analysis and segmentations are the key to success of every business model.

    You have joined SIA Serbia as a Jury member. How was your experience so far? 

    I am truly grateful to everyone from SIA Serbia team because they recognized me as a jury member. All the experiences I have gained from this are valuable and I think that Serbia needs more similar initiatives. Educating youth about social entrepreneurship is a prerequisite for the further development of the field, and that is exactly what you do. Thank you for making me a part of this story.

    DSC_1725What is your message for young people and future social entrepreneurs? 

    Do not run away from social entrepreneurship, because this is a profitable area too. Social entrepreneurship is currently a trending topic among many companies who are looking for ways to reach out to the poor. Therefore, you should try and work on your ideas that can solve some of the burning societal issues.


    Thank you Branka for this interesting interview and your expertise as a jury member!

  • Change cannot happen in isolation and that collaboration is always the way to go – Anastasya Markelova-Gavrish


    Anastasya Markelova-Gavrish is one of the co-founders of Impact Hub Moscow that organizes Social Impact Award program in Russia. Anastasya has answered a few questions concerning social entrepreneurship development in Russia. Let’s look!


    Ksenia: What do you think about social enterprise in Russia? How do you see the movement of social entrepreneurs in 5 years (in Russia)?

    Anastasya: I think that entrepreneurship in general and social entrepreneurship in particular in Russia is quickly developing and becoming more and more popular, it is kind of a real movement nowadays indeed. At impact hub Moscow we see more and more young people willing to find a meaningful career and considering founding or working for an impact oriented startup as a valid option. Moreover, we see people with experience in non for profits who are looking for more sustainable ways of delivering impact to their target audience. We also see the number of business focused entrepreneurs who try to find an impactful way to deliver value to customers. There is also a huge interest in learning about social entrepreneurship from outside of Moscow. All these trends supply us with a much larger number of idea-stage entrepreneurs. This year, we had more than 4000 people in total from all over Russia learning about social entrepreneurship via participating in at least one event hosted by impact hub Moscow (including more than 2000 participating in one of SIA RUSSIA events). Our early stage program 90 days challenge is accelerating 30 ventures this year from idea to the first sale (comparing to 6 startups last year (2015) and 5 in 2014). On top of that, we see that the number of matured entrepreneurs has grown, and their needs are different: we now need to work on providing them with education and resources around scaling, securing investment, growing operations and etc. I think in 5 years we will consider social entrepreneurs to be a usual part of our daily life and hopefully as customers will always have high quality options to satisfy all of our needs by buying products and services from social entrepreneurs.


    Ksenia: You are a co-founder of Impact Hub Moscow. It is great because Hub is the first organization that organizes international programs to support social entrepreneurs in Russia. What helps you to promote social ideas in Moscow? What obstacles do you face in business development?

    Anastasya: We are endlessly grateful to our partners, especially City foundation, for helping us build impact hub Moscow and supporting our programs. City foundation and other partner organizations helped us by providing expert support and resources. We strongly believe that change cannot happen in isolation and that collaboration is always the way to go.




    We are bound to host a cross-sectoral community of social entrepreneurs, experts, representatives of corporations, foundations, educational institutions, individuals etc, so together we can achieve the world that works for all.

    As for the obstacles, I often see a reputation that social entrepreneurship has in Russia of being ‘too social’ and less perceived as a business. We always emphasize the idea that having a strong business model and providing products and services of impeecable quality are the crucial elements that will allow social entrepreneurs to win the markets and sit at ‘grown-ups table’ as well as make a greater impact.


    Ksenia: Do you plan to organize other programs to support social business in Russia?

    Anastasya: As I mentioned before our programs grow together with our community and we see that entrepreneurs on more mature stages of development require different knowledge and skills, especially in the areas of investment and scaling. As for investment, we will run an investment preparedness lab in November (together with Unreasonable Institite) this year aiming to help entrepreneurs to navigate different types of capital, to learn how to create and gather all the necessary materials for raising capital, and to get feedback from experienced investors.


    Thank you Anastasya for this interesting and powerful talk! 

  • Once people start to think about ideas on how to improve their lives in a creative way and also have an impact in the communities, many great initiatives were put in place

    In this Interview we are talking with Loredana Urzica, the founder of Youth HUB in Bucharest, Romania. She believes that young people should have a proper environment to achieve their full potential, therefore all her work is concentrated on developing new projects and programs in order to empower the young generation.

    Dear Loredana, why did Youth HUB join SIA?


    Loredana UrzicaYouth HUB is a social enterprise in itself, designed to help young people start their our business and create jobs. We do that by offering space for working, by offering support, knowledge and consultancy in various fields such as business modelling, financial, juridical, marketing, funding etc. The reason we joined SIA 2016 is because we find it to be the kind of project which helps us fulfill our mission of promoting entrepreneurship as a method of solving current problems in our life and also as a way of empowering the young generation to be active. We also are very interested to promote social entrepreneurship among young people, as it is a new concept and not so many are familiar with the concept.


    What is the value your organization feels that SIA is bringing to Romania?

    One of our core values is the belief that young people can make a difference in our society and have a positive impact. This is also something that Social Impact Award is promoting as an important part of the activities and it is one of the few complex projects that are organized in Romania in the field of social entrepreneurship.

    What is your role and what do you offer?

    Youth HUB is the Incubation Partner and our role in the project was to host the meetings of the organizing team and also workshops on business modelling. We were happy to welcome the finalists in our co-working space during the incubation period and offer access to our facilities and knowledge.

    How do you see the future of social innovation in Eastern Europe?

    Eastern European countries have acknowledged the concepts of social innovation and social entrepreneurship much later than the western countries. But once people start to think about ideas on how to improve their lives in a creative way and also have an impact in the communities, many great initiatives were put in place. We see thinkers and doers that come together for a higher purpose which is related to solving the needs and the problems they are facing. We already have started to have good practices and examples of social business that have saved communities and created a spirit of proactivity.


    Thanks for this interesting talk!

  • We want to have long term benefits and finding a way to support social entrepreneurship – Dragana Crvenica


    “I would be happy if we show our SIA participants that it is a worth effort trying and learning, and that success is not about being lucky.”


    In this Interwiev we´re talking with Dragana Crvenica, Head of Communications Department of Erste Bank AD in Podgorica, Montenegro.

    1. Erste bank is recognized as a responsible member of Montenegrin society. Do you see yourself and Erste bank as pioneers of bringing the idea of social entrepreneurship to Montenegro?

    Dragana_Crvenica1Erste bank is part of the regional Erste Group, institution with more than 190 years of tradition, with roots in the noble idea of economic empowerment of the poor by helping them save money and gain financial independence. Social responsibility was and is the core of its corporate philosophy. Erste is among the top banks in Montenegro and is very much aware of how its actions impact the society we all live and work in. I admit, one feels fulfilled as a person when sharing company’s success with the community, but we also recognize it as the right way to achieve long term sustainable business growth, reduce costs and manage risks better. Corporate philanthropy is just one way of being socially responsible though. Another part also comprises of actions you undertake to empower people. Just like in the saying about the difference between giving a man a fish and teaching him how to fish. We want our actions to have long term benefits and finding a way to support social entrepreneurship is clearly one of them. But we cannot call ourselves pioneers in this field. Social entrepreneurship is a known term here. What we can say is that we are unique in efforts of establishing a framework for young future social entrepreneurs that will work for them and support them in every step of the way – providing education, financial support and when possible, becoming buyer of their products or services. That’s what SIA is about.


    2. In your opinion, are young People ready to stop searching employment within state administration and take the initiative and try to realize their ideas?

     Unfortunately, we do not see evidence of this trend going down. Paradox is that even students of entrepreneurial studies often see themselves in state administration. This is not bad per se, on the condition they see their role as enablers of the change towards system more favorable for entrepreneurship, but I fear this is not the case. Our economy is open and import dependent, it is not so easy to find opportunities. However, we are not lacking ideas and we saw this during the application process for SIA Montenegro. Combining this fact with the very high rate of realized and still going strong social entrepreneurship projects in SIA in previous years, I am confident that we can and we will change something.


    3. As a Head of Communications, but also as a successful former journalist, how do you see the role of SIA in the process of changing the mind-set of future generations of potential entrepreneurs?

    Changing mind-set is the most ambitious goal one can imagine. Sometimes I am not sure I can change mind-set of my six year old kid. And he is not even the stubborn one in the family – she is smiling. On a more serious note, I would be happy if we show our SIA participants that it is a worth effort trying and learning, and that success is not about being lucky. Having even one SIA Montenegro project realized will then speak volumes, much better than any awareness campaign we could, as good as we are, organize and execute.

    Thank you Dragana for your encourage thoughts.