Category: Interviews

Interview with Rafael Lopez

The interview provided by our Spanish partners DRAMBLYS gives us some insights about social economy prospects in Castilla la Mancha region. “El Sembrador” foundation is aimed at socio-labour integration of people at a risk of social exclusion.

Interview Video:


Interview with George Melissaropoulos

What are the main characteristics of existing training and learning on social entrepreneurship?

George Melissaropoulos - Facilitator OpenCoffee Patras
George Melissaropoulos – Facilitator OpenCoffee Patras

Social Entrepreneurship in a way it is difficult to be categorized by specific terms. In my experience, we’ve met dozens of people/teams that have been introduced at OpenCoffee meetings in Patras for the past 4 years that had a strong desire to make an impact in existing social needs. Only few of them had the pleasure to start their initiatives by participating in a training and learning programme (incubators, accelerators, mentorship etc.).

The known facts about the above training/ learning programmes are that all of them focus on team-up, suit up, transforming into a “business model” company – initiative, which was not quite efficient most of the times.

In a way, if we had to identify what these incubators offer that would be:

  • How to organize a start-up
  • How to growth your business with mentoring services

What do you expect from training/learning?

What we expect from this kind of training/learning is to learn from experience, how the existing companies are operating in today’s business world and take into account the best practices and some of their innovative tools in the new initiatives models. Most importantly, how they manage to find the required funds (accelerators, crowd funding, angels etc).

What are the barriers and gaps in training?

Gap: Generally, the main gap for further development of the social entrepreneurs/ start-ups is the lack of professional networking and marketing approach in order to find the right assets and gain popularity and publicity so they can increase their impact. This, as a result, has a restricting effect. The social initiative idea might be of a global interest but unfortunately, it is restricted in a city- small scale model.

Barrier:  For sure, is the mentality. The majority of these teams rarely invest actual time individually or as a team activity in order to develop themselves in a way that they will be able to catch the “entrepreneurship train”. In my opinion, this takes time to change and only by increasing the learning/ training options so it will be inevitable to think that they can achieve “market success” without the mentioned skills.

What are your needs?

Regarding the needs, Social Entrepreneurship/ Startup communities should search, find and occupy experienced mentors and professionals in order to acquire their knowledge to “pass the flame” and to inspire these social initiatives members and guide them into the market world. Having them available, it is only logical to schedule relevant straight to the topic educational programmes/ activities/ workshops. Step by step, everything can change.

Interview with Sophie Lamprou

What are the main characteristics of existing training and learning on social entrepreneurship?

Sophie Lamprou – Trainer - Mentor Impact Hub – Athens
Sophie Lamprou – Trainer – Mentor
Impact Hub – Athens

Training in social entrepreneurship consists of two elements: entrepreneurship + social. So the entrepreneurship pillar is a matter of soft & hard skills building (risk taking, empathy, framework into creativity, productivity, team management etc) and tools (how to do cashflow, how to make a marketing plan, etc). The social pillar has to be mosttly focused on awareness, insight & data on the topic one aims to work on (be it environment, climate change, etc) and the specifics of the category of the beneficiary (be it people with disabilities, learning difficulties etc).

What do you expect from training/learning?

Depends on the objective of the training, the audience and the methodology. Overall, after any training, the key performance indicators are how much did we cover the needs of the participants, how much will the be implementing the knowledge acquired, how much they would suggest to someone else to go through the same training, quality of trainer, space, content etc.

What are the barriers and gaps in training?

Gap: Generally, entrepreneurial training is done by executives whose vocabulary & practises are not aligned with one of a young entrepreneur, or the owner of a very small & small business and usually, these trainings cannot satisfy the entrepreneur, or the entrepreneurial team.

Barrier:  Entrepreneurs in Greece (young, small and very small, medium size businesses) do not consider as a priority to invest in knowledge & training, thus the resource available to cover the costs for a good trainer is limited. And when we talk about low cost training (meaning online) then, this culture is still quite immature in Greece.

What are your needs?

Regarding training, i have needs as an entrepreneur, rather than as trainer. As trainers, we try to keep up with any new methodologies & practises or profound the ones we know, plus we work closely with our community in order to understand where to focus our educational programmes and what are the most relevant tools.

Interview with Niki Papageorgiou

Are you (have been) involved in training/ learning activities?

Assistant Manager at TOBEA Ltd
Niki Papageorgiou – Assistant Manager at TOBEA Ltd

TOBEA’s team participates in several conferences regarding social entrepreneurship, science and the responsibilities of each member of the team.

Which type of training activities? Which methodology do you use?

  • Seminars
  • Conferences
  • Knowledge and information transfer between the members of TOBEA’s team

What are your ICT skills?

  • Project management software programs like MS Project which help us to develop a plan, assign resources to tasks, track progress, manage the budget, and analyze the workloads.
  • Computer-aided design programs and computer-aided engineering programs like SoliDworks.
  • Automation software for programming the control units of our products.

What do you expect from training/learning?

  • To improve the level of knowledge and skills of the employees.
  • To reach a point where all essential and necessary areas of knowledge and experience will overlap in order to achieve a smooth operation of all departments of the company.

What are the barriers and gaps in training?

There is no overlap and there is lack of experience to some specific areas.

What are your training needs?

Attending seminars for improving our knowledge on design and project management programs.

Interview with Efi Daskalopoulou

Are they (have been) involved in training learning activities?

Social Entrepreneur / CEO of
Efi Daskalopoulou – Social Entrepreneur / CEO of

So far, there was no opportunity for our team to participate in training / education activities.

What are their ICT skills?

Our team consists of computer science engineers and potential MBA holders in ICT. Our team has skills exclusively in software & hardware.

What do they expect from training/learning?

Training and learning activities are always important in order to acquire the will and the skills to change for the better. This way, one can see more problems amenable to solution related to society and finding the proper way to solve them improving the quality of life of our fellow human beings. I expect one day the relevant education programs to encourage learners to think and act as agents of change.

What are the barriers and gaps in training?

Surely, training is vital. Without this, our civilization would not have made strides. But, to a social economy development, the problem is not the training being a good education, but the lack of substantial education as a base for support and success

It is essential for education to convey learner not only in the theory but also in the practice to listen to the events around him. Unfortunately based on our experience, it is difficult to find a suitable instructor to implement this targeted training.

What are their training needs?

Our team needs reinforcement in the Marketing field and department in order to obtain tools that will help the sustainability of a social enterprise. Certainly, an important need for training is the methods that could bring closer the customer/ user with the social product/ service and how to further promote it.

Interview with Dimitris Tzelepis

What are the main characteristics of existing training and learning on social entrepreneurship?

Dimitrios Tzelepis, Position Assistant Professor / University of Patras
Dimitrios Tzelepis, Position Assistant Professor / University of Patras

The required new knowledge and skills should focus on:

  • Mobilizing workers by means other than financial, ie participatory management techniques and decision making
  • Develop good relationships with stakeholders in the social economy and the management of “social capital” of which is a mixture of trust, reciprocity, norms of behavior and sense of belonging to networks.
  • Social marketing based on personal relationships.
  • Financing, public or private and voluntary contribution to financial or time resources.
  • Recording, monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of social and economic goals.

We see from researches that there is a high degree of convergence between social business problems as described in the preceding subsection, and the education and training needs at European and Greek level. This finding comes to reinforce a recent research (Richardson, 2013) held in the UK and shows that educational needs are adapted to modern trends to be taken into account when designing education and training programs for the social entrepreneur. The most important findings of the survey are summarized in the following points:

  • The area of ​​social economy under-investing in training despite the recognition of the value of the development of social enterprise.
  • The biggest obstacle participation in training is the time, therefore short workshops (workshops) one-day or two-day is extremely popular, while in the longer programs recognized strong social impact and corresponding monitoring desire.
  • There interdisciplinary interest in training in social economy issues by public institutions, construction companies, charitable and private organizations that want to support the concept and implementation of a social enterprise.
  • The issue of measuring social impact is burning, a trend that is reflected in the desire of learners study implementing organization to be trained in a specific field of the social economy with the first option

“Managing growing business.”

  • The specific practice of social entrepreneurship are keys to the success of a training program. The vast majority of learners prefer to learn and consult the experiential experts (businessmen, not policy-makers) in their industry. At the same time, studies (Mary Marsh Review of Social Sector Skills and Leadership) demonstrate the need to invest in developing leadership skills and personal development of the social entrepreneur training but considered a luxury before practicalities required to solve the social enterprise.
  • The training tends to be online, which is linked to the lack of time and the flexibility offered by distance learning but also with economic criteria.

These studies actually provide a framework of knowledge and skills needs today social entrepreneur. However further detection of training needs in the field of social entrepreneurship at the local level requires the implementation of extensive qualitative and quantitative research on population mapped social enterprises. Such analysis can further enrich the proposals and policy guides on the thematic guidelines above and to uniquely identify the individual characteristics of the programs (space, time, duration, educational techniques, etc. instruction means) and the beneficiaries in order to optimize the benefits for social enterprises and society at large and education and training.

Can Social innovation and entrepreneurship get along?

The procedure for the implementation of a business idea in the case of social enterprise differs somewhat in comparison with the same process in a conventional business. Essentially involves determining the following parameters:

  1. Motivation: It clearly defines the social goals and operational objectives of social enterprise and the balanced mix of goodwill (between social-economic gains, that is between the pure charity and purely commercial enterprise) which gives efficiency and sustainability. also makes clear what we want to do, for whom and how.
  2. Idea: The idea can be hidden everywhere. Usually the conception of a business idea comes from the analysis of a problem (meaning, causes, scope) or the solution can be proposed to solve it (what solution, how, why, what else has suggested?). The conception of an idea from either an opportunity or a need to detect. After confirming the idea occurred to finalization.
  3. Vision: Reflects the ultimate goal and disseminates all actions at the level of communication, inspiration, commitment and motivation.
  4. Ecosystem: In social entrepreneurship is not lonely because there is an interaction between economic, human, spiritual, social capital, decision makers, opinion formers, thematic partners, social servers beneficiaries.
  5. Design: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” (B. Franklin). The business plan does not differ from the design of private enterprise (products and services, customers, competitors, marketing, sales, equipment infrastructure, human resources, realistic economic forecasts, finance, business indices) only in relation to the use and social indicators in order to measurable return on social enterprise.

Inherent in the above process is the process of social innovation consists of four main stages (BEPA, 2010):

  1. Recognition of a new or spare social need.
  2. Develop new solutions in response to this need.
  3. Evaluation of the effectiveness of new solutions that respond to social needs.
  4. Scaling up effective social innovations.

One of the main challenges for both social entrepreneurs and for policy makers is to determine those areas that optimize existing business models and can have severe social impacts. The finer the idea is that would become the original, the more likely to move to the next application and development stages. Therefore, special emphasis should be given in the early stages of concept formation. An effective social business tool is the detection of forces, gaps, trends and challenges of the environment which are opportunities for development with social benefit.

What are your needs?

The detection of training needs can be done through the search of the social entrepreneur needs in the business process itself. This process is represented in Figure below as the timeless mutation of the role of social entrepreneur. The first stage in the process of establishing a social enterprise is to capture the business concept. The second relates to the early phase of operation and the needs arising from the problems or opportunities required managing a social enterprise.

All businesses generally face the same problems greatly. However there are local characteristics that differentiate the needs for training. In the Greek reality, the proper management of the problems and opportunities faced by Greek social enterprise – as presented by the Solidarity Network (2013) may be the pillars on which can be built any education and training effort. Problems-needs detected are:

  • Need to support the company’s viability in specific objectives and operational, managerial and financial parameters. The business plan allows such an organization absent from Greek social enterprise.
  • Lack of qualified or experienced administrative staff in the field of social economy.
  • Low competitiveness of products and services from social enterprises.
  • Cannot create relationships and alliances with social partners at local and national level and with other enterprises and active citizens.
  • Lack of knowledge and skills of detection and utilization of development programs.
  • Exclusion from the banking system because of the special precarious sustainability of social enterprise and guarantee failure.

Interview with Giannis Vikas

What are the main characteristics of existing training and learning on social entrepreneurship?

Public and private bodies Facilitators on social entrepreneurship: Giannis Vikas – Trainer – Mentor/member of “Epihiro Kinonika” Athens -
Giannis Vikas – Trainer – Mentor/member of “Epihiro Kinonika”

The “Epihiro Kinonika” (EN= I socially attempt) is an initiative of the Development Company and Tourism Projection of City of Athens (EATA) and has already completed the support (in 2015) both cycles of new social enterprises, addressed both to existing operators already active in social entrepreneurship as well as to individuals and groups that have a mature business idea with a social purpose and want to practice it.

Currently, we’re implementing the investment readiness program for mature social enterprises that want to extend their business and aims at networking social enterprises through financial instruments. This program will be completed in late June 2016.

The piece of group and individualized tutoring referred below as the two first cycles that have already been completed.

The group counselling program aims to explain basic concepts and tools of “social business” as well as in the formation of a single social business culture that emphasizes social and business dimension, the social footprint as the place and role of social enterprise in society. This creates a common basis for all participants, so be prepared and equipped for personalized advice below.

The training program prepares a social enterprise to present, analyze and assess the social footprint is the community in which it operates, and potentially the wider community. Simultaneously introduces the business tools will support and will lead to achieving sustainability.

The advisory group will include training in the establishment and operation of a social enterprise and the development of specific social and entrepreneurial skills of social entrepreneurs-business. The 6 sessions lasting a total of 30 hours, covering the sections of the social economy and social entrepreneurship, strategic planning and social value, legal forms and the creation of social enterprises, organizational structure and business planning, human resources and governance , finance and funding issues, and communication and public relations.

The networking of business ecosystem of social enterprises and social economy organizations and understanding of the challenges and opportunities of the sector is another target of the training module of group counselling. In this context place and visit to mature social enterprises, in order to transmit practices, experience and knowledge.

The seminars are supplemented by the targeted two-day bootcamp which analyzes the depiction of the social impact of social enterprise and leadership issues and participatory governance through interactive workshops.

Detailed program

  • 1st Meeting – Introduction to Social Business
  • 2nd Meeting – Methodology and social impact
  • 3rd Meeting – Organizational Structure and Business Planning, Financial Management
  • 4th Meeting -Legal Forms and Social Enterprises Recommendation Financing
  • 5th Meeting – Communication and Public Relations, Purchasing and Marketing
  • 6th Meeting – Human Resources and Governance Networks and Synergies
  • Visit Social Enterprises


Day 1 – Social footprint, social value, social capital, social ‘accounting’ and ‘control (social accounting and auditing)

Day 2- Team collaboration and leadership (Team Leadership)

What do you expect from training/learning?

Upon completion of peer counselling and diagnostic needs, the beneficiaries had acquired a common framework of knowledge that would help them to faster monitoring and better understanding of individualized counselling. During the first meetings of individualized tutoring, key advisers informed of the essential characteristics of the beneficiaries and their activities, so less time is required to understand their needs and their function. Based on the needs previously identified, the main consultant chosen and qualified consultants in modules such as finance, human resources, legal issues, tax consulting and accounting issues, as well as marketing, costing and development of social impact. Overall, each beneficiary had 25 hours of personalized counselling in which was developing all the above sections and prepared its business plan.

What are your needs?

Most beneficiaries had the most basic need to prepare a business plan and identify potential funding sources, and had relatively good knowledge of their business and their business social dimension. However, even under the social dimension were unable to express clearly their social impact and supported in this piece. A basic need of those not already in operation was the establishment of social enterprises and the legal and tax consulting / accounting support during the initial stage of operation. Most beneficiaries (especially the Urban Non Profit Companies GSSE) had the need to create a viable business operating model, so you do not have a high dependency on donations and third injections. The general trend of business was to turn to the market to generate an income for their sustainable operation, which is a key program approach for “Epihiro Kinonika”.

Interview with Dr. Niki Lambropoulos

What is the status of ICT based training/learning now?

Niki Lambropoulos
Niki Lambropoulos, PhD is an author, researcher in Creativity, Innovation and Human Computer Interaction (HCI) in Education, and educator.

Within one single generation ICTs changed the way we work, we learn, we have fun, we live. ICT-based learning and training aided in synchronous and asynchronous communication, collaboration, activities, classrooms and schools organization, learning activities convergence towards initial visions and targets, time management, and even enhancing human abilities as Technology Enhanced Learning, to name a few. In my opinion, there is the experimental stage of ICT-based learning with projects that involve future emerging technologies in learning and training, the currently utilized technologies, and the grey area between them. For example, new brain research revealed novel approaches in the ways people learn and thus, tools like thinking caps and virtual theme parks can be the starters of a new era of controlling our thinking processes. On the other hand, the current expansion of technologies such as google glasses, augmented reality, Internet of Things and interoperability between devices and space, ambient intelligence, online platforms, differentiated, personalised & adaptive learning created new approaches in the ways learning and training can occur. Formal and informal learning from a lifelong perspective has been introduced. The current status of ICT based training/learning in the European countries and the world depends on people’s and educators’ digital competences, openness in new ways of learning and the educational policies and frameworks in each country that facilitate or even create blockages for ICT based training/learning. A brand new world is already there.

One example, is the TRIA training environments. This is 3 different learning contexts: Workplace, School & inter-company courses. Learners learn and experience different forms of theory & practice in these three contexts because: (a) Knowledge is often situated in one of these contexts and does not get used in the other context, and (b) The multi-context approach often leads to disconnected, inert, isolated and fragmented knowledge that cannot be applied to solve real problems.

Technologies as “bridges”

  • Improve school effectiveness by connecting informal and formal learning experience to classroom reflective activities.
  • Support activities that target key cognitive skills (self-regulation, reflection and abstraction) without disconnecting these skills from their situational context.
  • Augment co-present educational interactions
  • Enable teachers to conduct rich learning activities
  • Create a shared space to facilitate learning through reflection on experiences made in different contexts

Example for TRIA environments

  • Classroom class e.g. on Environmental Education
  • Visiting the place for experimentation and experience, e.g. a museum or a park
  • Capture multimedia resources
  • Enter these resources in a chronological timeline e.g. on an eLearning platform or a blog etc
  • Each entry is enhanced with a title, description, tags, and comments. Photos can be annotated to highlight important features
  • Learners can quickly capture experiences, add short notes and use them for later reflection classroom activities
  • Formal learning feedback from teacher: Learning journal entries can be shared with teachers who evaluate and add feedback

Such approach can bridge the gaps between school and other contexts such as the workplace learning contexts.

For example:

  1. From the school to workplace: understand theory and relate it to specific examples of workplace experiences.
  2. From the workplace to school:
  • Experiences made in the workplace can be used for reflective activities to build connections to knowledge learned in school.
  • Teachers can assign activities, e.g. collect photos in the workplace about a certain topic to be discussed later in school.
  • Learner generated entries are used as practical examples to illustrate abstract concepts.

Schwendimann, B. A., Cattaneo, A. A. P., Dehler Zuffrey, J., Gurtner, J. -L., Bétrancourt, M., & Dillenbourg, P. (2015). The ‘Erfahrraum’: A pedagogical model for designing educational technologies in dual vocational systems. Journal of Vocational Education and Training (JVET)

The following, learning training and methodologies cab be accompanied with appropriate tools and educational policies:

  • TRIA diverse contexts
  • Talent performance support
  • Competence-based training and learning
  • Micro Skilling vs Macro Learning
  • Personalised, time- based, 360 degrees evaluation and responsive support
  • Content/resource curation in situ
  • Openness (policies, standards, systems)
  • Combined Degrees


What are the improvement measures?

The two personas an educational practitioner or student expresses, the learner and the user, is one of the essential pillars in ICT-based learning and training from a Human Computer Interaction Education perspective. These improvements and interventions can be directed on both the learning and technological aspects with the latter correspond and serve the initial learning and training visions and targets. Improvement in this sense is related to enhancing human knowledge, skills and competences on an individual, small group, and also community and network level. Some improvement measures can be the following:

  • Improve quality by establishing quality standards
  • Successful European projects can be identified and engaged with potential adopters from the outset
  • Congruence between educational innovation, pedagogical approaches and teacher values and skills
  • Tools performance indicators related to targeted pedagogical approaches and learning
  • Education leaders need to support current radical changes with new pedagogical approaches and learning models
  • Training on new technologies for both students and teachers
  • Teachers need to be more closely engaged in the early stages of learning, collaborating with peers and exchanging ideas and practices
  • Integrate ICT based teaching strategies across curriculum, subjects, activities and assessment
  • Teach the teachers
  • Teachers’ support organisations and structures (e.g. paid professional development training)

Overall Suggested Improvements

Enhance 21st Century Knowledge, Skills & Competencies to be

  • Transformed & transmitted though contexts and systems

Design, Develop and Enable Unified & Responsive TRIA Ecosystems

  • Anticipate customers’ / learners’ concerns
  • Reflective TRIA activities in Lifelong Learning, Training and Working
  • Everyday Connectivity & Practice via Artefacts/Computing
  • Accelerated Training by decreased Time

Policies/Strategies on national and European level

Appropriate Educational Leadership

How ICT technologies could improve the training?

ICTs have blurred the borders of time and space and thus, have provided the initial canvas for the participants to communicate and interact.

  • Clearer definitions of key terms
  • Relate theory with tools utilisation in the classrooms with best practices such as educational scenarios and learning plans
  • TRIA diverse and integrated learning contexts for formal and informal learning
  • Blended (online and onsite) learning
  • Time-based, archive-oriented & trail-traced learning processes
  • Adaptive and individualised learning


Productive, Pleasurable, Attractive, Exciting & Interactive

  • Engagement, Motivation, Stimulation

Unique discovery paths in computer-generated 3D W/L ecosystems

Simplicity, accuracy and ease of providing education

Efficiency by

  • right time and right place
  • rich content with computer-generated 3D imagery
  • students take control of their own learning
  • providing opportunities for diverse & authentic training

Coherence principle for focused material & tasks

Real-time, effective & efficient support

3D Scanning & 3D Printing  Example

Interactive Print: blending of print and augmented reality

Focused tasks within Immersive Worlds

  • User engagement without cognitive load

TRIA Ecosystems to Share & Reflect

Insecurity about the economy

  • Even for next day or week

Education does not ensures a job anymore

  • Old & Industrialised

Ensure cultural identity & globalisation

Reform Education

  • Complexity & Pervasive Computing


How to use these technologies to improve social entrepreneurship?

Social change at all levels of social systems creates and requires innovations, and is affected by new social innovations. Social innovations are new concepts and measures to resolve societal challenges, adopted and utilised by social groups concerned. Social change refers to processes of change pertaining to social structure, affecting societal institutions, cultural patterns, social action, behaviour and consciousness (Zapf, W. 2003: Sozialer Wandel, in: Schäfers, B. (Hg.): Grundbegriffe der Soziologie, Opladen, S. 427-433). Using new technologies can enable and enhance social change via social entrepreneurship as for example to:

  • Regulate and benefit social needs rather than separate society from technological innovation
  • Build socio-technical systems
  • Utilise Ethnotechnology (ethnography and technology)
  • Disseminate a social idea and solution so to become part of a group’s culture towards social innovation implementation
  • Use tools to defy social innovations resistance and compete with other traditional or newly proposed solutions to social issues
  • Emerge and transform current cultural traits
  • Change the rules of decision making
  • Participate in social processes
  • Adapt social practices
  • Create/Change patterns of behaviour and life styles
  • Create social innovation culture
  • Utilise tacit and local knowledge
  • Manage abundance and inclusive growth

User innovation Networks for Social Entrepreneurship Example

  • Users as manufacturers utilising social software
  • Co-Creativity and collaborative innovation
  • At least some users have sufficient incentive to innovate and solve a social problem
  • At least some users have an incentive to voluntarily reveal their solutions
  • Diffusion of innovations by users is low cost and can compete with commercial production and distribution

Niki Lampropoulou (Lambropoulos), PhD (Female) is an author and public speaker,  Senior Researcher in Creativity, Innovation & Educational Project Management, Human Computer Interaction Immersive Experience, PRINCE2 Project Manager, and Marie Curie Fellow. Creativity & HCI includes: Idea Generation, Creativity techniques, Immersive Experience, Innovation and Educational Project Management. The Creative Flow Zone Practical Applications for the mind (learning, art), the body (sports), environment (augmented, virtual and mixed reality) and society (communities and social networks). She holds a BA and Diploma in Education from the University of Athens, an MA in ICT in Education from the Institute of Education, University College London (UCL), and a PhD in HCI from London South Bank University. She has worked as an educator, ICT coordinator, QA consultant, e-learning expert, Project/ Innovation Manager including LLP and Marie Curie EU Projects at the Regional Educational Directorate for Western Greece. She is a visiting Senior Researcher at the Department of Informatics, London South Bank University; the Centre for Creativity, Innovation and Technology in Education (CRINTE), University of Western Macedonia, and Wire Communications Laboratory (WCL), University of Patras in Greece. She has published widely is her areas of interest.


Interview with Will Greene

Why did you come today?

I work for a B2B Marketing Magazine. I’m exploring some of the new financing models around small businesses and entrepreneurs and I think there is some overlapping ideas with social enterprises such as lending and community banking to the more technical invoicing companies.

I think in the post-crash world we’ve had too few banks with too much lending capital and I imagine this affects social enterprises as well. It will certainly be pertinent to businesses, if not to the marketers in those businesses.

Small businesses, I think, will get much more of their funding from community sources. If that can be tied into a form of corporate responsibility in a less formalised way, that would be a good thing, but it’s still a very nascent thing.

Why is ‘localised’ funding becoming prevalent?

Yes, I don’t think it’s a question of trust, but necessity. There’s a much greater caution about lending to riskier, low-asset businesses, particularly as most businesses start out in a bedroom these days. There’s nothing to seize if it all goes wrong.

Smaller community lending is going to have to go in and take up that space [the shortfall in lending]. The big banks will still have the money, there won’t be a whole swathe of new lenders. But there will be focus on the big banks setting up smaller, community funds.

In what ways could government help with in both business and social enterprise?

The gap between what bosses are looking for versus what schools are being told to teach is increasing rather than narrowing. In terms of what the government can do is firstly, recognise that as a factor. The things children are being taught are not equipping them to be entrepreneurs or work in businesses.

That business mind-set is helpful to employers and employees, understanding how you fit in the business, that you go to work not because you are part of an infinite pool of money that you draw from, rather than you are working towards a goal of making money and your job is tied to that. The more the government recognises that and recognises that enterprise education needs to be embedded throughout education the better, so you don’t do what I did, which is going to a top university, coming out with a shiny degree and no skills at all in terms of finding a job.

Ken Robinson makes the point that for the last one-hundred and fifty years if you do the best you can at school you become a university professor or a teacher and that means not having a wider appreciation of what people need to function in the wider world.
I have also been a musician. That’s something you should put on your resume because of the organisation it takes, the planning, the budgeting. These are real skills and experience. It’s more knowing how to apply the holistic things everyone does in their life.

If you can teach people that they can do something and make money from it and give something to their community, that’s the ideal goal.

Interview with Dr Shailesh Modi

What is your role?

I work at EDII. It was set up in 1983. It’s a pioneering institution, the main objective being promoting entrepreneurship in India. In the last two decades it’s diversified into entrepreneurship education and we have moved into social enterprise.

The government of India is going to launch an ambitious entrepreneurship programme, which will include a significant component of social entrepreneurship. Plus, there is this British Council Project titled Mainstreaming Social Entrepreneurship and Education in India. It’s focused at undergraduate and post-graduate level.

There is tremendous flexibility though as it does not have to be a full time course or a degree. A capsule of social entrepreneurship can be embedded in other courses. There is no fixed format or structure about it. The intention is to make a beginning on the social entrepreneurship front.

How do you define social enterprise?

In simple terms I would define it in two ways. One, it is an enterprise that addresses a social need and is expected to make modest profit. Profit is important as is modest.

At another level, there can be an organisation that addresses a social problem in an entrepreneurial and market-driven way. It is still structured like an enterprise.

So it is very different to charity?

In terms of development we have not reached the stage where we can expect there would not be any philanthropy. A measure of philanthropy should not be disqualified.

What kind of training do you offer?

Presently we are thinking in terms of education and I would draw a line of distinction between education and training. When people say training it’s often in relation to people who have half-made up their mind or are practicing social entrepreneurs.

The beginning we make with education and then add training soon thereafter. We are working on a curriculum on modules like ‘what is social entrepreneurship and other areas including business plans and funding. There is a team currently working on appropriate learning resources which we expect to be completed in 1.5 months.

What obstacles are there, particularly in India, in providing this kind of education?

The demand is one. The body of social enterprises is not yet large enough. Currently most of them have been set up by very well educated people, often with foreign degrees. They are prosperous and secure and have accessed social impact funds from abroad.

The other thing is that there is a set of individual innovators in India who have a desire to set up a social enterprise but their personal profile is high and, to help in this area, it would be a social climb-down for them.

What are the challenges working with British organisations and the benefits?

The key here is that there is a strong education system. The idea behind collaboration is to draw from the rich British experience in the realm of education and social entrepreneurship in particular.

How sufficient is government support?

Until recently it has been extremely negligible in the sense that in India there is no government policy around social enterprises. Recently a policy was announced with limited meat to it.

Most government effort is going to be in promotion action rather than policy action like tax breaks or funding.

We expect to train over 2000 social entrepreneurs in the next five years. We expect the government to be very active on the promotional front.

What do people expect from the training?

It depends a great deal on the personal background. If a guy is working in the development of the voluntary sector, he’s identified a need or problem and has worked on a solution, but he’s not well versed in the business part of it, doesn’t know how to crunch numbers etc.

He would probably expect to learn about this, and to get a measure of post-training support, guidance, mentoring etc.

Where the training is concerned, it is often gaps in the trainees personal background and post-programme support.