Social Entrepreneurs event in Strasbourg
On 16 and 17 January 2014 the European Commission, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the City of Strasbourg hosted a large European interactive event “Social Entrepreneurs: Have Your Say!” on social entrepreneurship and the social economy in Strasbourg, France.
Convening the ecosystem of social entrepreneurship across Europe to meet in order to amplify and catalyse social economy in Europe, this event took stock of the achievements and implementation of the Social Business Initiative –introduced in October 2011.
Over 2000 social entrepreneurs and supporters of social enterprise, representing the rich diversity of the social economy, affirmed the view that social enterprises must play a bigger role in the future of Europe and identified new ideas and actions to unlock their potential for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
EVPA community was well represented at the event and EVPA Research Director, Lisa Hehenberger was invited as a speaker in the workshop called Social Impact Measurement – what is it and why do we need it? As member of GECES (the European Commission’s Expert Group on Social Business) and of its sub-group on impact measurement, Lisa has acted as rapporteur on impact measurement during the past year. In the workshop, she presented the recommendations made to the Commission on developing a standard on social impact measurement. The standard sets a universal process, and characteristics of reporting. It requires that a framework is developed which is likely to cover perhaps 80% of the measureable outcomes. As regards indicators, the sub-group found that no single set of indicators can be devised top-down to measure social impact in all cases. The standard process identified involves five stages (in line with the five steps developed through EVPA’s Knowledge Centre guide on impact measurement ).
EVPA members also contributed to other sessions, including the workshop on Private financing for social enterprises – European Social Entrepreneurship Funds (EuSEF), where both Luciano Balbo from Oltre Venture and Felix Oldenberg from Ashoka were speakers.
EuSEF was implemented in 2013 and in general, it is perceived as a positive initiative to attempt to create lighter regulation for social investment funds. However, practitioners commented that there is a hurdle in the operating costs of a EuSEF due to legal fees needed. For example, the UK FCA still has not received any application to register a EuSEF. A challenge of how to make EuSEF more attractive remains. Luciano Balbo commented that EuSEF may have negative externalities. In Italy, before EuSEF, social venture funds were not regulated. A new law coming into force in March 2014 may push for all funds to be regulated – which may mean that small social venture funds will have too high costs. Another topic discussed was the need to recognise that you need different financial instruments at different stages of the evolution of a social business – philanthropy is still needed at early stages! There is a risk of trading long term social impact for short term financial return.
To conclude the two-day event, a final declaration summarising the outcome of the discussions was presented. The declaration was drafted with inputs from the sessions at the event with “harvesters” attending the sessions and reporting to the team drafting the declaration. The declaration is a clear appeal to the future Commission to continue the work on the Social Business Initiative. The declaration represents the views of various stakeholders from the social enterprise sector and not those of the European institutions.
If you agree with its content, you can sign it by filling in the form below:
Click here to sign the declaration