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.