• 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!

     

     

  • Wellbeing of social entrepreneurs is a game-changer

    Social entrepreneurs care about the wellbeing of others. But does that come at the cost of risking their own? 

    This article is a part of our blog series on the topic of wellbeing among social entrepreneurs. You can also read our interview with SIA Russia winner who uses online psychological support to combat burnout among entrepreneurs.

     

    Burn-out among social entrepreneurs is a true issue. Social Impact Award’s academic partner – the Vienna University of Economics and Business and its Social Entrepreneurship Center – conducted a survey among SIA alumni including personal wellbeing. Outcomes show that social entrepreneurs are challenged: More than 40% were exposed to some level of burnout. 5% might have experienced severe burnout.

    Social Impact Award is in the driver’s seat to train its participants’ skills to stay healthy. Together with HIL Foundation and the Vienna University of Economics and Business, we started to research and implement our findings on wellbeing since 2018. We asked Peter Vandor, our research partner and founder of Social Impact Award, to share the latest findings on wellbeing within the SIA community.

    How is wellbeing perceived by young entrepreneurs? Why is it a game-changer for founders and social entrepreneurs?

    In the beginning, the founders have to do everything in the organization. Faced with a myriad of different tasks, their passion and energy is the only driver. If they are not well and decide to quit, there is no venture and no impact.

    Tell us about SIA’s wellbeing studies. What triggered you to do the math?

    More and more social entrepreneurs in my personal environment suffered from chronic stress and in some cases burnout. I wanted to understand what is going on and what we can do. Also, SIA is in a peculiar position when it comes to founders’ wellbeing. We are well equipped to provide founders with the best tools and mindset to prevent burnout and have a lasting positive impact. But as a program, we also make very high demands. We could risk being part of the problem by raising pressure.

    What are the key findings?

    Our data from two SIA surveys among current and alumni ventures since 2018 confirmed the issue. The majority of social entrepreneurs had experienced lasting periods of stress. For 20%, this manifested in persistent physical symptoms such as sleeping disorders and anxiety issues, in a few cases even clinical burnout. This is alarming, even though similar rates in other professions and even higher levels of burnout risk in medical and care professions are common.

    Much of this is driven by the high demands of entrepreneurial work. In some cases, however, the gravitas of the social problem our alumni work on seemed to amplify the pressure. A respondent explained: “…people wait for your products that could save lives and you are not doing anything. It’s constantly on your mind, the fear that someone could die tomorrow because you took a break.”

    SIA can make a difference. Some of our interventions, in particular, 1-on-1 coaching on team issues, had a strong positive correlation with wellbeing. The data suggests that we can be effective in supporting our founders on this level.

    Why is SIA pushing this topic? What is going to happen next?

    Drumming the beat of social entrepreneurship comes with a responsibility. If we send thousands of youth on this journey every year, we owe them a realistic picture of the challenges and the best tools to tackle them. Unfortunately, too many programs just focus on the rosy side of entrepreneurship creating unrealistic expectations.

    We will continue testing and evaluating different interventions to see what helps. I have started further research to better understand the drivers of this phenomenon together with my university and Impact Hub Global.

    Your personal rule of thumb to cherish wellbeing?

    Coping mechanisms such as exercising, getting professional help or maintaining social support circles (aka meeting your friends) resonate with me. 

    But the responsibility should not be put mainly on social entrepreneurs. It’s systemic. We have to make sure there is proper education, funding, legal and taxation structures, and recognition for this work. Entrepreneurship is stressful enough. Social entrepreneurs should not need to face extra barriers for trying to solve social issues. The answer is not yoga classes, we need sound institutional frameworks.

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    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!

    Anna Krymskaya, the co-founder of YouTalk, shared with us their success stories regarding their online psychological chat support and how they are supporting SIA Russia in burnout prevention.

    Read Anna’s story

     

    About Peter

    Peter Vandor is a senior researcher and co-founder of the Social Entrepreneurship Center at WU, the Vienna University of Economics and Business. In his position, he has been leading 60+ collaboration projects with organizations such as ERSTE Foundation, CERN, UNDP, and the Roland Berger Foundation. His research focuses on social entrepreneurship, migrant entrepreneurship and innovation and has been published in the Journal of Business Venturing and Harvard Business Review. Peter is the founder and academic director of Social Impact Award, a capacity building program for young social entrepreneurs in 15+ countries and initiated the first academic and award-winning course on social entrepreneurship in Austria. Peter was nominated as Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum in 2012 and as SCANCOR Visiting Scholar to Stanford University in 2017.