• Local roots for global content

    While the strategic objectives around the impact field “awareness” are explorative in nature (see the previous blogpost), SIA’s educational strategy is based on ten years of successful activities in this domain. Since 2009, we have been active in 25 countries, offering over 1,000 educational workshops and events for 31,000+ young people. Through these educational offers, SIA provides its participants with the necessary tools, skills, and mindset to unfold their potential as innovators and social entrepreneurs.

    However, reflecting on our educational work, we identified several key impact drivers that proved to be instrumental in enhancing the entrepreneurial competencies of our young participants and helping them unleash their creative potential, which set the direction for the next four years.

    Most importantly, we try to reduce all barriers that keep youth from participating: lack of information, disciplinary and language barriers, geographic constraints, prejudice, and many others. We pursue a low-barrier approach by running workshops and events all across the countries in which we operate – not just the capitals. We continue offering our formats 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 the youth of all disciplines and geographic locations.

    We will also continue our efforts in transforming from an education program focused on students to one that reaches youth of all educational backgrounds, including underprivileged and marginalized youth people. Until 2023, we aim to have 30% of our workshop participants coming from disadvantaged backgrounds than tertiary institutions. As for the content of our educational interventions, we will continue to combine know-how with practical training and to provide opportunities for team formations during our workshops.

    What will be the role of online formats in our curricula?

    During the last ten years of providing social entrepreneurship education, we have learned that face-to-face education, interactive group work in a physical space, and live emotions are substantial in transforming vague intentions into concrete and feasible project ideas. Then, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to move all our education formats into the virtual space. We developed new webinar formats, partnered up with global players in the field of online education, trained our staff in online facilitation, built new features into our in-house support platforms, etc. In many aspects, this rapid transition has been a great success. However, it also showed the limitations of online interventions for achieving didactical objectives such as inspiration, co-creation, or enabling a sense of belonging among participating peers. The key learning is that online interventions are very helpful additions to the “toolbox” of capacity-building organizations. Nevertheless, they can only unfold their full potential if they are embedded and integrated into offline curricula and program designs. In light of these very recent experiences, we will offer our program in a blended learning format, interlinking newly developed virtual formats and web-based offers with in-place interventions.

    Photo credits: Alexander Gotter

    A few other key areas of SIA’s development around the topic of education should be highlighted. One is the objective to not only focus on promoting the founder role through our workshops and events. There are other roles that are as relevant as the founder to create impact – both within venture teams and as change agents in other roles in the corporate world, NGOs, or public institutions. We aim to use our educational interventions to raise awareness on the variety of ways a young person can use his or her talent to achieve impact. We will do so through case studies, the illustration of exemplary careers of SIA alumni, inspiring event speakers, etc.

    Connected to this broader perspective on impactful careers, we aim to build a competence model as an integral part of our 4-years strategy. This competence model shall illustrate the full set of skills one can obtain during our workshops. This is essential as it allows us to understand, measure, and communicate the development of our participants beyond the evolution of their venture ideas. Such competence developments are instrumental in increasing the employability and job-readiness of our young participants – a crucial dimension considering the high youth unemployment rates and brain drain challenges in many regions where we operate.

    Overall, we aim to reach and empower 12,000+ young citizens (18-30y) through our educational formats on an annual basis by 2023, reaching youth in 100+ cities/locations. Such interventions will annually support the creation of 1,000+ project drafts, which SIA will provide with individual and constructive feedback.

    In the next blog post of our series “Rebooting Social Innovation”, we will focus on the development of our incubation program in a post-pandemic world. The article will elaborate on how SIA will annually provide 230+ innovative social enterprises a seamless path from the idea generation to a market launch based on validated impact & business model – and what role wellbeing plays in all of that!

     

    This is the third article of our blog series on the topic of SIA’s strategic approach for the period 2020-2023. Find the links to all other blogs here: 

    Beyond the crisis: A post-pandemic world needs social innovation more than ever
    Raising awareness among the youth: Why we won’t bring the Silicon Valley to Nis
    Education and training: Local roots for global content 
    Supporting nascent social enterprises: Preparing the best ventures for flying high, not burning out (coming up in the following weeks)
    SIA’s alumni community: Building a peer-community of young leaders (coming up in the following weeks)
    Deepening our impact: Stronger collaboration to achieve a common mission (coming up in the following weeks)
    Scaling our impact: Growing in an ambitious, yet healthy way (coming up in the following weeks)
    Strategizing with multiple stakeholders: An honest and intense look inwards and outwards (coming up in the following weeks)

  • Why we won’t bring the Silicon Valley to Nis

    It has always been a key objective of SIA’s work to raise awareness among youth (18 to 30 year-olds) about social entrepreneurship as a potential career path and vehicle for civic engagement. So far, we understood this part of our efforts primarily as a means to attract workshop participants and applicants. However, as much as it is important that SIA offers such educational and supportive opportunities, we should understand awareness as a stand-alone impact field. We need the youth’s talent and inspiration in rebuilding our societies and economies in a post-pandemic world. The COVID-19 crisis bears a unique opportunity to put social innovation and impact-driven entrepreneurship at the top of young talents’ career options.

    Those working in the field of social entrepreneurship for longer might assume that social entrepreneurship is already a topic that is well known among young people. Some might even think it’s a hype. Such an assumption, however, does not match our daily experiences in working with youth through SIA. The vast majority of young people are not aware of social entrepreneurship as a potential career path. The underlying reasons for this are manifold:

    • Low emphasis on self-efficacy, autonomous action, and problem-solving in public education (e.g. Chamard, 1989).
    • A narrow understanding of institutional responsibilities, with certain institutions perceived as main, or only legitimate actors to address social challenges, hampering civic action and social entrepreneurship (e.g. Defourny and Nyssens, 2010).
    • Weak support systems or even hostile environments for civic action and social entrepreneurship (Stephan et al., 2015; Vandor et al., 2017).
    • Lack of access to high levels of education and required economic or cultural resources, which are associated or even required for operating social ventures (see e.g. Estrin et al., 2016).

    We see a massive impact potential in strengthening our role as an inspirational platform that raises awareness among youth on the opportunities that social entrepreneurship bears – both as a vehicle to form and scale impactful businesses, but also a tool to enhance the competencies and empowerment of youth in a world in crisis.

    Thanks to our core program activities and ten years track record, SIA has the content at hand to inspire. In having supported the creation of more than 700 impact ventures throughout the last ten years, working with more than 1,000 partner organizations worldwide, and conducting impact measurements on an ongoing basis, we are exposed to an incredible wealth of inspiring venture stories, encouraging case studies, paradigmatic career paths, and convincing impact data. All we need to do is to translate this content into accessible and digestible content for youth.

    Not only can we directly access a vast amount of inspiring stories at hand. We can also rely on our well-connected network of licensees and partner organizations to contextualize it. Why is this so relevant?

    Think of a young person – let’s say a student from the Serbian city of Nis – and imagine this person watching a story of a Silicon Valley venture while scrolling through Instagram timeline. Will such content – as amazing as it might be – really inspire this young Serbian to get active? More likey, he/she will conclude that one should be on the US West coast (or at least in London or Berlin) to start his/her own project or initiative. Now, imagine instead of yet another US-based story, a video of a young social entrepreneur from Nis who started by winning the Social Impact Award, talking about how the venture is growing despite the difficult circumstances in Serbia. This might at least make the viewer think twice whether social entrepreneurship could be an interesting career path. It is this contextualization of content – combined with the use of local language – that we believe is key for growing the awareness of social entrepreneurship beyond our current bubbles.

    Thus, we have set ourselves an ambitious goal: in 2023, we aim to reach ten million young people through our awareness-raising efforts. To achieve this objective, we will use the next years to build effective systems for collecting, curating, and disseminating inspiring content. We will do so in collaboration with individuals, organizations, and networks from both within and outside of our current community. In addition, we will grow our internal capacity for storytelling and communications. We will use all relevant channels available for reaching our young audience; with a strong focus on social media. Depending on both our resources and the feedback from our audiences, we might even start exploring stand-alone products for awareness-raising such as podcasts, books, or similar.

    In the next blog post of our strategy series “Rebooting Social Innovation”, we will focus on the importance of social innovation education to unfold the youths’ potential as innovators and entrepreneurs in a post-pandemic world. The article will elaborate on how SIA aims to annually empower 12,000+ young talents by 2023 through our highly qualitative and accessible education formats.

    This is the second article of our blog series on the topic of SIA’s strategic approach for the period 2020-2023.  Find the links to all other blogs here: 

    Beyond the crisis: A post-pandemic world needs social innovation more than ever
    Raising awareness among the youth: Why we won’t bring the Silicon Valley to Nis
    Education and training: Local roots for global content
    Supporting nascent social enterprises: Preparing the best ventures for flying high, not burning out (coming up in the following weeks)
    SIA’s alumni community: Building a peer-community of young leaders (coming up in the following weeks)
    Deepening our impact: Stronger collaboration to achieve a common mission (coming up in the following weeks)
    Scaling our impact: Growing in an ambitious, yet healthy way (coming up in the following weeks)
    Strategizing with multiple stakeholders: An honest and intense look inwards and outwards (coming up in the following weeks)

  • A post-pandemic world needs social innovation more than ever

    The immediate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the social innovation sector are alarming. Not only is it more difficult to reach and support beneficiaries as well as nascent social entrepreneurs, but also business models of many social businesses and capacity-building organizations – including SIA’s alumni ventures and SIA Hosts – are threatened by the economic downturn. In such difficult times, it is important to focus on what is right in front of you. This is why in the course of 2020, SIA International focuses its attention on the immediate support of its constituencies by developing new online formats, supporting the fundraising of SIA hosts, and building closer relations to our alumni.

    While being focused on navigating through these difficult times and trying to be a helping hand to those who are affected the most, we should not lose sight of the long-term perspective. How will the post-pandemic world look like? What role shall an international, youth-oriented community like SIA play in such a world? In exploring answers to these questions, we can go beyond the immediate “crisis mode” and regain our proactive approach to creating the future with our own hands and minds.

    In doing so, we realize that this crisis bears a unique opportunity for the field of social innovation and impact-driven entrepreneurship. Rebooting the social innovation sector will be a tremendous challenge that needs young talent and effective capacity-building programs such as SIA more than ever. It is disruptive times like these that enable social innovation and bear numerous entrepreneurial opportunities.

    This is why we are committed – hand in hand with the next generation of change makers – to play a vital role in making the post-pandemic world, one that is more just and inclusive.

    This blogpost series aims at outlining SIA’s strategic approach to put social innovation at the core of the rebooting process of our economies and societies. Together with more than 1,000 partner organizations, we will co-create a post-pandemic world that is juster, more sustainable, more caring, and more inclusive. In this series, we will elaborate on how we’ll do this. Each blog post will shed light on a specific aspect of this strategy. The first focus will be on the topic of awareness and inspiration: How can we inspire 10 million young talents to take an active role in shaping our post-pandemic world through social entrepreneurship?

    This is the first article of our blog series on the topic of SIA’s strategic approach for the period 2020-2023.  Find the links to all other blogs here: 

    Beyond the crisis: A post-pandemic world needs social innovation more than ever
    Raising awareness among the youth: Why we won’t bring the Silicon Valley to Nis
    Education and training: Local roots for global content
    Supporting nascent social enterprises: Preparing the best ventures for flying high, not burning out (coming up in the following weeks)
    SIA’s alumni community: Building a peer-community of young leaders (coming up in the following weeks)
    Deepening our impact: Stronger collaboration to achieve a common mission (coming up in the following weeks)
    Scaling our impact: Growing in an ambitious, yet healthy way (coming up in the following weeks)
    Strategizing with multiple stakeholders: An honest and intense look inwards and outwards (coming up in the following weeks)

  • 9 practical support resources to navigate your social business through COVID-19 times

    In light of the Covid-19 crisis, not only do long-existing social inequalities become more and more obvious, but humanity is also faced with new challenges. In a situation like this, social businesses are needed even more urgently than before to help shape the way we as a society react and what kind of solutions we develop. However, the sector of social entrepreneurship is itself impaired by the crisis and many ventures are struggling to survive. This is why we put together a selection of resources aimed at supporting social entrepreneurs in navigating the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath.

     

    COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs

    The COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs is an unprecedented collaboration between over 40 global organizations to support social entrepreneurs in pooling knowledge, experience, and responses to alleviate suffering and advance new models of change for a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable world.

    For more details click here. 

     

    Covidcap.com

    Included in the COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs, Covidcap.com is a searchable database of over $1 trillion in COVID-19 cash relief resources available to small business and nonprofit entrepreneurs everywhere. 

    For more details click here. 

     

    Best practices and financial solutions | Euclid Network

    Euclid Network cultivates and builds cutting-edge sector intelligence, enables peer-to-peer learning, and showcases the most compelling and inspiring stories from all across Europe. As a reaction to the COVID-19 crisis, they have put together an ever-growing list of best practices, financial solutions, and beneficial resources for the social enterprise sector. 

    For more details click here. 

     

    COVID-19 related Resources for Entrepreneurs | Female Founders

    Female Founders is the fastest growing community for female entrepreneurial minds in Europe. We recommend that you have a look at their list of resources, opportunities, and good reads for entrepreneurs. 

    For more details click here. 

     

    Virtual Communities for Impact | A toolkit for virtual community builders

    Whether your venture was already established in the virtual world or you have just started developing it in this sense, the question of how to build an effective virtual community around your vision is very much relevant. Virtual Communities for Impact is a toolkit that can help you leverage the power of your community. 

    For more details click here. 

     

    Virtual Facilitation Toolkit & Recipes for Wellbeing | Changemakerxchange 

    Changemakerxchange has gathered its knowledge and expertise, as well as valuable tips and tricks when it comes to facilitating virtual gatherings. This PDF document is available for everyone who might need support in their virtual facilitation. On their website, you can also find a curated selection of recipes for wellbeing and tips and tricks for working remotely. 

    For more details click here.  

     

    COVID-19 European Investor Status

    An open-source, fully editable, and shareable database of investors. 

    For more details click here. 

     

    Unitus Europe – The European Philanthropy & Social Investing Impact Hub

    European philanthropy and social investing networks have come together in an informal alliance to support and to give guidance to suppliers of funding, such as foundations, social investors and public funders, throughout the survival (6 months) and the revival (18 months) phases related to the COVID-19 crisis, with a focus on trans-national and cross-border activities in Europe, and beyond. 

    For more details click here. 

     

    A free virtual mentorship program for impact tech founders | tech2impact

    Especially for social entrepreneurs who are using technology to achieve Sustainable Development Goals, tech2impact is offering a virtual mentorship program. Over the course of 4 months you can have access to mentors, webinars, and insights on growth hacking, fundraising & pitching, sales & PR, tech, business & product development, and more.
    For more details click here. 

     

  • 7 reasons why you should NOT join SIA

     

    Have you ever heard of SIA before? No? Yes?

    Well, here is a short bio: Founded in 2009, the Social Impact Award conducts education and incubation programs in more than 15 countries in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Its mission is to support social entrepreneurs in the early stages of both developing and implementing innovative business solutions to address key societal challenges. SIA  organizes events and workshops to raise awareness of social entrepreneurship and to provide the necessary skills for young entrepreneurs. 

    Twice a year, we the SIA team based in Vienna recruit new volunteers to support us with various tasks. As we are currently recruiting new volunteers, we thought it is of great importance to inform the newcomers about the real-life of a SIA-volunteer. We asked the current volunteers about the last half-year they spent with SIA and these are the 7 reasons they mentioned, why you should NOT join SIA:

    1. You will have to meet a bunch of cool, creative, diverse, and caring people from different countries, work, and go out with them on a REGULAR BASIS. No, thank you!

    2. You will have to take on responsibility from day one in a team that believes progress is always a team effort. And they always talk about creating impact and becoming a part of something bigger. Nobody told me that beforehand!

    3. You get to work with people from various fields who can teach you a lot about what social entrepreneurship means and how to create social impact. And who would like that?

    4. You will have to be open to the possibility of shaping your own learning experience by focusing on the development of your current skills or learning new ones. Is this really necessary?

    5. You will have to learn about Holacracy, a new horizontal management technique that requires your participation in the decision making progress. Whaaat?

    6. You will have to take part in interactive tactical meetings, with a team that loves to reflect and always tries to achieve higher goals. Even the Coronavirus can´t stop them!

    7. You will have to become a “real” part of the team, they don’t treat you “just like another volunteer”. That is new to me!

     

    And most importantly: you definitely shouldn’t join SIA if you are allergic to “Gute Laune”.

    What do you think now? If you still haven’t changed your mind and want to join the team, then hurry up, the application period for SIA volunteering team ends on the 31st of May

     

  • Freshys – A Healthy, Social Food Take-out Restaurant

    Freshys is a healthy food take-out restaurant, opened in Skopje in January 2016. They offer salads, cold sandwiches, smoothies, and desserts. One-third of their profits goes directly to food donations for homeless and socially disadvantaged people. They also offer a 15% discount for all young people aged 10 to 24. People who use their own plates and cups get 10% off, encouraging the reduction of plastic waste. We talked to the founder, Ljubomir Stojcheski about their beginnings and experience with SIA.

    This is the fourth article of our blog series on the topic of how SIA and social entrepreneurship change people’s lives. Read more about our Impact fields in 2019

    Why did you start this business and what are your future plans?

    Five years ago I joined an informal group called “Retweet A Meal“ where volunteers gather every Friday to cook for the homeless. In Skopje, about 500 people are homeless. Some receive food in public kitchens, but many are not registered and can’t access this support. Moreover, I was looking for inspiration for my thesis. I learned about social entrepreneurship and wanted to write a study. It all came down to my decision to open a restaurant that would not only create direct help through donations. It should also provoke the whole community to think about the food insecurity problem. As soon as we opened the restaurant we started with food donations. We are helping 200 people on a weekly basis, most of them homeless. We cook the food with the group “Retweet A Meal”, and donate desserts and fruits to provide a complete meal. We plan to open another location in the next year and take it from there. Our expansion in the catering business could be the next big step.

    Ljubomir Stojchevski, founder of the Freshys

    How did SIA support you on this journey?

    I found out about SIA in April 2016 and decided to participate. And we won! However, money was not the driver. The whole incubation and meeting peers [process] was the true asset. SIA creates a culture of support and not fierce competition. Right from the beginning, SIA is your backup. To this day I am still good friends with some of them. 

    Fresh food in Freshys

    You also mentored SIA finalists from the Western Balkans at the regional incubation bootcamp in Skopje, a regional gathering supported by Erste Foundation and Western Balkans Fund. Why are these regional events important?

    I was excited about the bootcamp, as it was the first regional cooperation within SIA. At the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey, it is important to have a wider, cross-border perspective. Western Balkan countries are such small markets and we should aim to reach them all with our business. I tried opening this perspective for finalists and sharing my knowledge and experience. Moreover, it was a gathering of people exchanging knowledge and ideas. Everyone was learning from each other. 

    Enjoy learning more about Social Impact Award community in our Global Impact Report 2019.

  • Founding An Inclusive Co-working Space For Mothers

    Assel Abylay is SIA Winner 2018 from Kazakhstan. She has a project aimed at creating more job and development opportunities form women. We asked her about her enterprise and the role of SIA in its development. 

    This is the third article of our blog series on the topic of how SIA and social entrepreneurship change people’s lives. Read more about our Impact fields in 2019

    Assel Abylay, founder of the Mom in Office

    What is Mom in Office? Why did you decide to start this business?

    Mom in Office is an inclusive co-working space for mothers, offering training and employment since 2018. As a mother of three, I myself needed to work and support the family. My eldest daughter was diagnosed with diabetes. When you have to take care of your children – or even elderly – your earnings are lower, as you need to devote time to such care. I wanted to solve this. That is why I organize courses for mothers on social media management, copywriting, marketing, photo and video-making and editing. After graduation, they are equipped to work wherever they have the Internet. These kinds of freelance jobs allow mothers to work hours that work for them. In the office space, we also have a playground and babysitters to support women who cannot separate from their children.

    How many women shape your community?

    Our trainings range from 3 to 20 women. We also offer online courses where women from other cities and countries can join. Our team consists of five employees, and many more are hired for specific projects. So far we have reached more than 10,000 women through the training. Some are still working with us, some have found their own jobs. However, with a population of about 18.6 million in Kazakhstan, we aim to reach much more in the future.

    Kid’s space at the Mom on Office

    What are your future plans?

    We started organizing courses for kids, to make the best use of our shared time. We are also starting to work as a social media marketing agency. Currently, we consult on 12 projects from three cities in Kazakhstan. We work with our graduated team, supporting businesses with their social media presence, content production, and advertising.

    You got incubated with SIA Kazakhstan in 2018. How did it shape you?

    Without SIA, my business wouldn’t exist! My initial business model was very faulty. I had very high costs for hiring and was still testing different services for mothers. SIA helped me figure out my business model. I learned about different models of hiring freelancers. The mentoring showed me that courses, like social media management, have a bigger return on investment to make my business more sustainable. This made all the difference! We are still connected with our mentor and with the program hosts from SIA Kazakhstan. They invite us to events within their popular co-working space for social entrepreneurship. I can always reach out for their support.

    Enjoy learning more about Social Impact Award community in our Global Impact Report 2019.

  • Going Big In Romania

    Corina Angelescu and Andreea Nedu are part of the SIA Romania team. We asked them about their work and how is social entrepreneurship developing in Romania, and here’s what they have shared. 

    This is the second article of our blog series on the topic of how SIA and social entrepreneurship change people’s lives. Read more about our Impact fields in 2019

    SIA Romania team

    Already in 2012, Romania joined the SIA family. How has awareness about social entrepreneurship changed among Romanian youth?

    Corina: Awareness of young people about the topic is growing, but slowly. Every year, whenever we go to universities or high schools, the conversation is the same. Youth needs to understand better what social entrepreneurship is, in order to decide if this is the boat they would like to jump on. However, there is a larger potential. I meet many young people who feel the need to do meaningful work. When they discover social entrepreneurship, it clicks well with these values.

    When it comes to entrepreneurs, support programs, and companies that want to invest, there is definitely growth. There are more incubators supporting social entrepreneurs and more awareness-raising programs, although not necessarily for youth. 

    SIA Romania puts a lot of effort into reaching the youth nationwide. In 2019, you’ve organized over 25 events and workshops for more than 900 people in 10 cities all over Romania. Why do you do this?

    Corina: The most important reason is adding options to their potential careers. We help them see a broader perspective than they are used to in schools. There are also very few programs that reach out nationally on important topics for the local communities. Wherever we go we ask youth about their communities‘ issues and how to fix them. We encourage initiatives locally which is really important.

    What makes young people reach an a-ha moment when learning about social entrepreneurship?

    Andrea: What works best are examples. At every presentation, we show them the real people who build social enterprises. They realize it‘s possible. Showing examples or meeting entrepreneurs in person and engaging in discussions – young people can easily relate to that.

    What are your ambitions for 2020?

    Andrea: We want as many youngsters as possible to really understand social entrepreneurship. In the past years, we have positioned SIA Romania as a tool for exactly that. We have also built a great group of supporters all around the country. In the next years, we will push further and implement our ideas to make this happen.

    Enjoy learning more about Social Impact Award community in our Global Impact Report 2019.

  • SIA’s Global Impact Report showcases how 220 incubated ventures shaped Social Innovation in 2019

    Every year, we look back on the activities and achievements of our international community over the past year. Our yearly Global Impact Report provides a bigger picture of our impact work in Europe, Africa, and Asia. The report summarizes our efforts in helping young social entrepreneurs navigate from vague intentions to promising impact ventures.

    This is the first article of our blog series on the topic of how SIA and social entrepreneurship change people’s lives. 

     

    Today, we are proud to share with you the brand-new Global Impact Report 2019. We invite you to study it in detail to learn about what SIA does in its four impact fields of Awareness, Education, Support, and Community. Learn about how our journey developed over the yearly program and successfully ended with our SIA Summit in Kyiv hosting 150+ stakeholders.

    Moreover, you can sneak-peek into our vision of scaling into new regions. Our managing board member, Hinnerk Hansen, also shares with you one more thought on why fresh, young voices should weigh in on the global discussion of social change. We cannot wait to experience more role models like Greta in our community.    

    But before you start reading all these stories, learn about our key findings on 10 years of SIA. Since establishing the SIA community in 2009, we have been active in 25+ countries, offering 1,000+ workshops and events to 31,000+ young people. So far 730 social ventures have been successfully incubated. 77% of our SIA winners are still running their ventures 3.5 years after participating in SIA. 

    Only in 2019, SIA provided 200+ workshops and events to leverage the awareness and potential of social entrepreneurship among young people. About 8,400 young people participated in 70+ cities in 16 countries globally. About 220 social ventures got successfully incubated to bring their idea to the next level and learn core-skills for their personal entrepreneurial journey. 

    For all of you who cannot wait to start reading, find our Global Impact Report 2019 here.

     

     

    For those who want some more sneak-peeks into our four impact fields in 2019, stay tuned:

    Awareness shows you which UN-Sustainable Development Goals our social ventures focused on in 2019. Fostering “Sustainable Communities and Resilient Cities” is more present than ever, influenced by the demographic and climate changes we are experiencing at present. Moreover, you will learn how our awareness activities enabled SIA to go big in Romania.

    Education provides you – next to our impact numbers – with a deep-dive into the crucial topic of wellbeing. SIA’s academic partner shares the latest findings of our studies on wellbeing. Learn how our young entrepreneurs self-assess their burnout risks and why wellbeing is a true game-changer for social entrepreneurs.

    Support highlights how 220 social ventures benefited from our incubation program in 2019. We are amazed that our recent alumni study proves that 77% of SIA winners have a long-lasting impact. Four out of five SIA winners are still running their ventures 3.5 years after attending SIA – a big round of applause to all of them! As a role model, a SIA winner from Kazakhstan shares her story of why she supports mothers to live their professional mission. 

    Community underlines our culture within the SIA community in Europe, Africa, and Asia. A SIA finalist stated recently that ”SIA’s community of likeminded people does not compete, but support and enrich each other to make the world a better place, together.”. Moreover, Freshys, our Macedonian winner in 2016, proves how a social food restaurant can also strengthen the local civic community.

    Enjoy learning more about Social Impact Award community in our Global Impact Report 2019.

     

  • Psychological support for burnout prevention

    We are not the only ones trying to provide Social Impact Award participants with the tools and skills to fight the compassion fatigue and achieve personal wellbeing. SIA Russia 2018 winner “You Talk” is leading by example! YouTalk is online psychological chat support that decided to use their Social Impact Award to support participants of this year’s incubation in Russia.

    This article is a part of our blog series on the topic of wellbeing among social entrepreneurs. Read our previous interview with Peter Vandor about the results of SIA’s wellbeing studies.

    Anna Krymskaya, the co-founder of YouTalk, gave us insights into their business and why they decided to give back to the Social Impact Award community.

    Anna, how did you come up with the idea for YouTalk?

    I am a clinical psychologist by education and have been in this profession for several years, working in mental health institutions and later in the corporate sector. While visiting different conferences and doing market research on mental health services, I found there is a solution on the Western market that is unusual for Russia – chat counseling. I looked into different research concerning this format and found that this can be great for people that cannot afford psychological help in the regular format. There are different reasons for that – some people lack time, some live in remote areas with no good specialists nearby and for some, it is just not affordable. 

    With Russia being such a big country, with a large population and a lot of remote areas, I decided I wanted to provide such a resource on the mental health market. 

    Now, almost a year after you’ve won SIA Russia, how did YouTalk develop?

    Within the last year, we have been steadily growing our client list, growing in terms of revenues and team. We are investing our own money and reinvesting our profits which enabled a stable growth. Today we have over 700 clients, requests from more than 32 cities of Russia and 25 countries around the world. We support a lot of migrants living outside of Russia, as they are suffering from stress and issues with adaptation, and there is no support available in their language locally. 

    At what point did you join Social Impact Award? What did you take away?

    We entered SIA when we were in the early stage of our project. When we joined, we already had some clients and we were sure our model can actually work. However, there were still a lot of unvalidated assumptions. SIA helped us a lot to validate them and develop business thinking. We were trying out different pricing and communication models during incubation. This was really worth it since the model we had at the end of incubation is still the one we use today. 😊 

    We also had an amazing mentor, a really experienced entrepreneur, who was the greatest part of our educational journey. He was eager to help us but was not the cheerleader type. He rather always offered a critical point of view on the matters at hand which helped us immensely in the process. 

    You decided to use your Social Impact Award for providing counseling for current SIA finalists. Why?

    I have to say, it wasn’t as hard to win the award, as it was to decide how to spend it! 🙂  

    We thought of different ways of investing the money we received. Since the award was 1,500 EUR, we decided it will not be enough for some serious scaling, but rather for something special and local.

    We first wanted to offer the services to groups who are experiencing special difficulties, like mothers who lost their children or domestic abuse victims. But then we realized that however impactful this can be, we cannot scale it beyond that small group of people we were trying to initially reach. 

    Therefore, we came up with the idea to target social impact makers, social entrepreneurs. Because if we help in preventing their burnout, they can scale their businesses and therefore do more good. We realized this is the way for us to scale up our impact way beyond our own activities.

    There was also a more pragmatic side to this decision, as we see entrepreneurs as our potential target audience. Therefore, we thought this would be a great opportunity to do research, to give us a better understanding of their needs and support them better. 

    We believe social entrepreneurs are a great group to work with as they are usually very conscious and open to self-development, therefore we are looking forward to doing more in this area.

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    We believe so too and our data shows the same! Although social entrepreneurship takes a toll on our participants, many have also built the mechanisms for burnout prevention. Among those mechanisms, our alumni mentioned hobbies and sports, psychologists’ support and support from friends, family, and coworkers. 

    Social Impact Award has a positive impact on this as well. 70% of respondents of our Incubation Survey from 2018 stated that participation in SIA’s incubation contributed to their ability to deal with conflict and stress that comes with starting a social enterprise. Particularly positive effects have had individual coaching sessions, high-quality mentors and providing clarity on structures and timelines. Providing a positive, friendly network of peers is also important, as social support is associated with significantly lower burnout. 

    In the years to come, we will continue exploring the topic of wellbeing and burnout prevention among social entrepreneurs. Thanks, Anna and YouTalk for leading by example and giving back to our SIA community!