November 07, 2017

Interview with Filipe Santos, Professor and Chair in Social Entrepreneurship at Católica-Lisbon School of Business & Economics

What do you think  is the added value that EVPA Annual Conference brings for you?

I have been attending, speaking at and organising social innovation and social investment conferences for the last seven years. I find the EVPA conference is the most interesting gathering of social investors in Europe because of the size of the conference, the quality of the attendees, their engagement with the field, and the opportunities for learning and networking. I believe it is the “don’t miss” conference on social investment.

Is there anything in particular that you are expecting from this year’s conference?

I am looking forward to reconvene with people in the sector and to understand what people are doing and what are the current challenges  in the field. Also, I am involved in two sessions: one on scaling impact, where we have put together a truly nice panel of experts on scaling, and the session "Showcasing High Impact Ventures" in collaboration with the EIB Institute.

What is the main objective of the session organised together with EIB Institute?

One comment that we have heard in the past about the EVPA conference, is that it is a wonderful gathering of impact oriented investors and funders, but sometimes we have to be reminded of why we are there, what types of projects, entrepreneurs and impact solutions we aim to finance. So this partnership with the EIB Institute came in a good time as it helps us incorporate specific investible opportunities into the conference design.

The EIB Institute is the social impact arm of the European Investment Bank and it has been developing and nurturing for the last 5 years a very interesting network of high impact social entrepreneurs. The session at the EVPA conference will gather the most interesting ventures that went through their Scaling Impact Bootcamp last year. These are ventures that either have just received financing for European replication or they are looking for funding. They have innovative solutions to societal problems in Europe and they are at the point where they aim at scaling their solution. They are exactly at the stage where they need support from venture philanthropy and social investors to help them scale across Europe.    

Can you describe the ventures present in this session?

Koiki. Has a very compelling model, already proven in Spain and planning to be replicated in Italy and France, of employing people with physical and mental disabilities to do last mile package delivery in a very cost effective way that is sustainable for the environment. It is a model that not only provides inclusion, but it also economically viable, has received impact investing and is growing.

Projetto Quid. Has developed a new brand of fashionable clothing using recyclable textiles that they source from partners in the fashion industry in Italy. They hire mostly women from disadvantage backgrounds in producing the clothing and accessories. The model is profitable, is employing more than 50 people now, reduces waste and is creating a new brand of sustainable and ethical clothing.

Speak. Is a project that addresses a key problem in Europe, which is the integration of migrants and refugees. Speak is a platform, online to offline, that sets up learning groups with migrant and refugees in the country and local citizens, that come together once a week to learn the language, exchange culture and cuisines, and to create networks of friendship and support. The model is replicated across seven cities in Portugal and already expanding to Milano and Berlin.

Code Academy. One the one hand, we have high rates of youth unemployment in Europe, on the other hand, we have the IT industry lacking people with programming skills. Academia Codigo is addressing this issue, working with young people and teaching them programming skills in intense 12 weeks bootcamps. They have high rates of success integrating people into the job market in areas of high demand and are also developing a scalable program to educate young children in programming to create a new generation of IT literate individuals.

Color Add. About 10 % of the male population in the world and 0.5 % of the female population are color blind – 350 million people. Color Add is an universal language for color-blind people to be able to identify colors. The code is already embedded into hundreds of thousands of products and service around the world, generating royalty revenues while making the world more inclusive for color-blind people. 

Recicleta. In Romania, like in many other Eastern and Southern European countries there is a problem with waste recycling. This project is creating a logistic network for collection and disposable of waste, mostly paper based waste from small businesses, and it is also creating new job opportunities for disadvantaged individuals.

Apps for Good. Has developed a nationwide school children competition for the development of mobile applications that have the potential to improve the lives of disadvantaged individuals and change society for the better. The program is expanding and also nurturing the development of the best apps.

This session is an opportunity for social investors at the EVPA conference to discover European projects with high potential impact and to identify promising ventures that they may want to be connected with and potentially support and invest in the future.

From your experience in the EVPA conferences what would you advise to newcomers?

It is really a great opportunity for newcomers to understand  who are the players in this growing investment ecosystem, what are the topics discussed, what are the impact ventures that are being funded or open for funding. So it’s really a good way to be immersed in the social investment field and to understand the issues and the opportunities for impact.

Rsz Santos

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