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.