Cartography: Amsterdam

March 24, 2015

Cartography[n.]: Mapping, review

In this second part of the review of my field visits to the Netherlands and Belgium, I share some lessons learned from Kennisland, Discovered, Social Enterprise NL and Impact Hub Amsterdam.

Kennisland

Though not a typical support organization, Kennisland taught me a thing or two that can be transferred to the more specific challenges of social enterprise. Quick recap: Kennisland is a think tank facilitating social innovation through civic participation. One of the tools they employ are social labs in which they bring a variety of relevant stakeholders such as government representatives, local service providers and the target beneficiaries to the same table to develop context-specific solutions to a shared community issue.

Any #SocEnt should run a social lab focused on their central issue before getting to work. Click To Tweet

In working with social entrepreneurs – and the lean start-up method is supporting this claim – I have found that they often shy away from talking to their beneficiaries and understanding the wider context of the issue they are trying to solve. I go as far as to say that any social entrepreneur should run a social lab focused on their central issue before getting to work, to understand the stakes of each party involved in or affected by this issue.

By the way, Kennisland has a brilliant website that I highly recommend checking out! Research insights, updates from their desks directly to the landing page and lots of background information with each post. Swing over to kl.nl – worth a visit!

kl.nl

Discovered

Discovered was the first social entrepreneur I spoke to about their general incubation experience and needs, in their case at a stage between acceleration and investment readiness. This is what I took away:

#1: Classifying and categorizing start-up stages helps us get a sense for the maturity of an enterprise. But we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that there aren’t soft borders and overlaps between those stages. Though I’m sure this seems obvious to all of us, we must keep this in mind when designing support programs, and make sure we have mechanisms in place to respond to support needs that come up in-between stages.

#2: I have come to understand that there are gaps between what support organization offer, and what the participating enterprises find valuable. Again, this is obvious, but the conversation with Discovered re-emphasized that we need to constantly assess whether the services our programs offer are what start-up and later-stage social enterprises need. What is the relation between perceived effectiveness by entrepreneurs as opposed to the outcomes programs hope to achieve?

Consult with your participants to fine-tune your #SocEntSupport to their needs! Click To Tweet

#3: An on-going discussion I have had over the last months was about the level of standardized vs. customized support for social enterprises. Part of the answer lies right here: Ask your participants to fine-tune your portfolio suited to what they need at any given point within the program.

Social Enterprise NL

Apart from trainings and services offered to members, Social Enterprise NL works in what they call Agenda Setting: The team around Stefan Panhuijsen represents social entrepreneurs’ interests in conversation with the Dutch government. In 2014, they published a policy agenda calling the  Dutch government to:

  • Recognize and acknowledge the entrepreneurial form “social enterprise”
  • Increase the availability of capital
  • Facilitate access to markets, and
  • Institutionalize social enterprise legislation and create targeted tax incentives.

Read more here (I recommend google translate!).

So far, I have not come across any other advocacy organizations for social enterprise and I wonder who takes it upon themselves in other countries. I can only speculate here but based on the social enterprise concept’s visibility and popularity as a newcomer in fields like academia or the start-up world, I assume it is a lonely job to represent the interests of entrepreneurs who fit neither in the profit-driven private sector nor into the world-saving charity category that we have so conveniently put in place.

Who are the agenda setters, advocates and lobbyists for #SocEnt in Europe? Click To Tweet

The one thing I did learn about advocating for social enterprise is: If a support organization wants to be their members’ voice, it can’t speak FOR them unless they speak WITH them, and keep a close eye on current issues and trends. I hope this list will grow substantially over the next months. But first tell me, dear readers, who ARE the agenda setters, advocates and lobbyists for social enterprise in Europe?

Impact Hub Amsterdam

My conversation with Wieke Van Der Zouwen about Impact Hub Amsterdam felt a bit like peeking through the keyhole into a whole new world of supporting social entrepreneurs through a tightly-knit network, franchise model and a pool of shared experiences and knowledge. Not to mention some exciting EU-funded research such as BENISI and Impact Hub Scaling. Impact Hubs are part of a closed network that generates a lot of know-how and best practices through their day-to-day work with social enterprises in over 60 locations across the world. But it is hard to gain access as an outsider. They do hold an annual summit called Unlikely Allies (click here to learn more about the June 2015 summit). The registration fee ranging from  EUR 1,200 to EUR 2,000 probably doesn’t allow many of us to participate. If anyone wants to throw Social  Venturers a free ticket for next year to see what it’s all about, get in touch!

What I do like about the Impact Hub model is that they lead by example in terms of financial sustainability. If you think that you can’t support social entrepreneurs unless it’s for free, think again.

Questions that I will take to my upcoming meetings with other Impact Hubs:

  • How do you organize your network-internal knowledge exchange?
  • How can the Hub Network open up and start collaborating with other support organizations?

 

Cartography: Rotterdam

Cartography: Brussels

 

Spotlight: Jiska Klein

jiska_klein

What drives you?

The opportunity to learn new things and to have a positive impact on the world. Thereby I strive to make social entrepreneurship the norm of doing business.

Biggest SocEnt trend have you seen over the last 5 years?

With my background in international and environmental economics, I am really enthusiastic about the trend in fair chain development. This is about taking responsibility, being transparent and internalizing negative externalities. For instance, Fairphone approaches things differently by sourcing conflict-free minerals from the DRC and Tony’s Chocolonely contributes to slave-free chocolate products.

Currently reading

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (a definite must read)

Background

I am very lucky that I can do what I really like and what feels good for me. Such as working with microfinance and social entrepreneurship projects in rural areas of India and my current activities for the supportive program at Social Enterprise NL. It is all about what you are contributing, what drives you and with whom you are surrounded. I come across a broad range of interests and perspectives. In this respect I learned a great deal from my interdisciplinary study Bèta Gamma at the University of Amsterdam, where we were trained to approach challenges from various angles and to use tools from bèta (natural) and gamma (social) sciences. Furthermore I am often inspired by documentaries, by fruitful talks at work and by unexpected meetings with people during hitchhikes through foreign countries.

twitter@jiskaklein

Social Enterprise NL

Members with Benefits

My last visit in the Netherlands took me to Social Enterprise NL. With all the social media buzz and in line with my silent-office-experiences at Enviu and Kennisland I was prepared to introduce myself to an armada of 20 or so hard-working Social Venturers frantically typing away on their computers to make the world a better place (hush!).

In trying to blend in I walked up the stairs deliberately quietly, not wanting to interrupt and ruin some genius thought (I wanted a good start!). In my trance an energetic Stefan Panhuijsen flew towards me, hand outstretched, welcoming me to Social Enterprise NL. Good start then! He walked me into a bright red room and introduced me to the four out of seven team members. We had a good chat and I was thrilled to see that project manager Jiska Klein joined our conversation. I already knew I had more questions than time, so we jumped right in.

Paid membership builds community

Social Enterprise NL was established in September 2012 by Mark Hillen and – if you read my earlier post on Social Enterprise in the Netherlands you are familiar with this name – Willemijn Verloop. As a network organization, you can only become member if you have been operational for at least a year and gain at least half of your revenue from the market. By March 2015, they counted 230 paying members in their community – and that’s what the program is all about: community. Other than most support programs I had met until then,

Social Enterprise NL is first and foremost about building a community. Click To Tweet

As part of their Affiliate Program, members benefit from support services such as training sessions, peer-to-peer workshops, mentoring and coaching. Many of these are offered by or in collaboration with corporate partners such as Price Waterhouse Coopers. The majority of experts and mentors at Social Enterprise NL are employees of large partner companies and bring with them extensive legal and financial knowledge from their corporate background. For social enterprises that do not yet meet membership criteria, Social Enterprise NL’s program BOOST offers four program days to learn about access to finance and pitching, marketing and positioning, business modeling and theory of change.

SocEntNL

Lobbying for Social Enterprise

Beyond, Social Enterprise NL lobbies for regulation with the Dutch government to build a more favorable legislative environment for social enterprises in the Netherlands. I got the sense that they are in a strong position to represent the needs and interests of Dutch social entrepreneurs, and can actually work as a mediator between their beneficiaries and the government by speaking both languages and provide guidance how to approach this trend that appears to be sticking around. Stefan said: “One of the central challenges in our work is trying to plan. Nobody knows yet where social entrepreneurship is headed, what the government will do, what legislation will look like. This uncertainty makes it difficult to plan long-term.”

Social Enterprise NL: A Review

On my way out, I asked for a picture of the team and it was a short moment that summed up my experience at Social Enterprise NL that day: A well-organized team always up for a laugh and obviously enjoying their work, but also busy busy busy trying to meet their members’ needs, lobbying for favorable social enterprise legislation, offering a support program, managing their partners and external communications. I look forward to meeting more membership organizations and start talking to some of their participants. I want to get a better sense of the importance of a structured content-laden support program compared to the pure community benefit. After all, members do pay to be part of this network, I want to know which factors add the most value, and what we can learn from membership organizations for other support programs.

twitter@SocEntNL

social-enterprise.nl

Spotlight: Stefan Panhuijsen

Stefan Pnahuijsen

What drives you?

Contributing to a better world where people take responsibility for their environment.

Biggest #SocEnt trend in the last 5 years?

The combination of different societal goals. Taxi Electric contributes to less air pollution AND the employment of elderly, Fairphone contributes to fair mining in Congo AND better working conditions in China.

Background

“I have always worked in small teams with really dedicated people. I think that is the most important reason why I always enjoy my work! At the moment, I learn a lot from our directors at Social Enterprise NL who bring a lot experience to the table.”

twitter @spanhuijsen

 

Spotlight: Wieke van der Zouwen

Wieke

What drives you?

I’ve been privileged to be born in this country and we are not looking at a long-term sustainable world in which everyone strives. On the contrary, we are living at the expense of others and nature. I have the great opportunity to enable others to do good, and that’s what I feel obliged to do.

Biggest SocEnt trend have you seen over the last 5 years?

There has been quite a big shift in the thinking about impact. People have started to see that you can make a profit and have an impact at the same time. We are finally moving out of the traditional NGO field.

What are you currently reading?

The Startup Game – Inside the Partnership between Venture Capitalists and Entrepreneurs by William L. Draper

Background

Wieke studied International Development studies, Spanish, and holds a masters in International Relations. As a project manager she worked for various social enterprises in fields such as IT and education. Wieke’s experiences as a freelancer help her relate to the struggles of the start-up entrepreneurs she works with. “The most influential experience in my career so far was joining Impact Hub Amsterdam. If you ask me, it takes guts for social entrepreneurs to think outside the I-have-to-earn-money box and out impact first. That has been a real motivation.”

twitter@WiekeVDZouwen

 

Impact Hub Amsterdam

“Profit is not a dirty word here.”

On day two in Amsterdam I met Wieke van der Zouwen who runs an acceleration program at Impact Hub Amsterdam, and we followed up a couple of days later during an insightful conversation about the Impact Hub Network which I had been keen to learn more about for years.

Creativity beats the Grey

Impact Hub Amsterdam is located in an old industrial complex in the middle of Westerpark in Amsterdam (Looks an awful lot like North Amsterdam to me, but what do I know?). The city continued to wrap me in grey-ness and damp air through which I fought my way to Westerpark. Even the daffodils looked beaten up by the lack of sunshine while pedestrians were walking by with their heads down against the wind and drizzle. The outlook of sleeping in a ten-bed hostel room that night was not necessarily my light at the end of the tunnel. Impact Hub Amsterdam, on the other hand, is a bright open space that invites collaboration and creativity. When I first stepped in, I was almost blinded by chalkboards with information of all colors and fonts scribbled all over, a large wooden kitchen table that seats over 20 people, and big industrial-looking light fixtures. It cheered me up to feel like I had just walked into a craft workshop, surrounded by fifty or so crafts(wo)men typing and chatting away. I was up for it, “Let’s get to work!”

Aviary Photo_130766795088115151

Speaking to Wieke was exactly that – getting to work. Precise and matter-of-fact information about their working model made it one of the most efficient and productive interviews I had had to that point. I suppose if you run a co-working space for social innovators, this attitude keeps your head over water. And with success: Impact Hub Amsterdam, like other Impact Hubs, manages to finance itself through entrepreneurs’ fees and venue renting. Whoever thinks there is no revenue to be made through social entrepreneurs – watch these guys!

Apart from co- and networking, Impact Hub Amsterdam functions as an incubator and accelerator alike, providing support to more than one stage of social entrepreneur. The Business Model Challenge offers start-ups at the prototype stage a five-day workshop covering business modelling, storytelling and pitching which culminates in a one-day final pitch event during which start-ups meet potential clients and business partners. They benefit from peer-to-peer as well as mentoring from industry and business experts, join sessions and master classes different business topics, and become part of the Impact Hub Network (three-months membership).

And social entrepreneurs pay for that package - why not? Click To Tweet

For more advanced social entrepreneurs in their post-revenue stage, the Investment Ready Program provides 12 program days over four months leading up to an investor forum; the winner is awarded EUR 50,000. Tailored towards the needs of social business that have moved on from the start-up stage, this program focuses more on strategic planning, financing, and leadership skills and business acumen.

Scaling Social Enterprise

About the recently launched  Scaling Program Wieke says:”Innovative entrepreneurial solutions that tackle Europe’s major social and environmental challenges are all around us. Impact Hub Scaling is a program designed for social enterprises ready to scale locally & internationally. For one full year, up to 100 participating social entrepreneurs will be immersed in the Impact Hub network and acquire knowledge, skills and advice from top mentors located in Amsterdam, Athens, Bucharest, London King’s Cross, Madrid, Milan, Stockholm and Vienna.” I should learn more about this during my visit to Impact Hub King’s Cross a few weeks later.

'Profit is not a dirty word here.' Click To Tweet

“Entrepreneurs need profit to become sustainable and make investments towards their long-term success.” And the Impact Hubs seem to be getting this part right. Making a profit to secure your program’s sustainability for generations of social entrepreneurs to come also means practicing what you preach. Amen.

twitter@ImpactHubAms

amsterdam.impacthub.net

Discovered

Through the eyes of a Dutch social entrepreneur

Between my field visits to Kennisland, Social Enterprise NL and Impact Hub Amsterdam, I had the opportunity to meet with Jacquelien Bunt to look at the offers of Dutch support organizations through the lens of a social entrepreneur. As someone who works at an online marketplace for artisanal and upcycled fashion from emerging economies, Jacquelien had cycled to our meeting in her high heels and as I pointed it out (very nice shoes, she is a pro!), she countered: “Oh, cycling is the easy part, heels don’t matter. Try running from meeting to meeting and it’s a different story.” Jacquelien seemed to me as Dutch as they come: Bicycle as an extension to their legs, pragmatic yet humble opinions and always straight to the point. We hunkered down at the large wooden table in the Impact Hub kitchen and started chatting.

IMG_20150318_105745788

Support needs

Discovered is a marketplace that connects rural artisans from emerging economies with ethical consumers in Western markets. Originally, founder Gijsbert van der Sleen saw products during his travels abroad that were not available for sale back in the Netherlands. He was sure there was a market. The idea for Discovered was born and started to develop in collaboration with Enviu in 2012. With Enviu as founding partner Discovered has had its share in other incubation programs.

As a start-up, you don't lack ideas, you lack resources. Click To Tweet

About her experience with incubators Jacquelien says “With some programs, they are all about generating ideas, but when you are a start-up there is no lack of ideas, but of resources. Secondly, programs will often tell you what to do, but not so much how to go about it. They will tell you that you need to revisit your marketing plan, for example, but I need to know where to start, with whom to consult, where to focus and put emphasis, how much to spend. Generic programs can’t do that. What we need at this stage, for example, is access to potential investors, to networks of partners and customers, and advice from experts in areas that we are still building up.”

Stuck between incubation and investment readiness

Discovered has a working product and is operating. Too advanced for an incubator, it is too early for them to participate in an investment ready program as offered by Impact Hub Amsterdam. “We need support working on our finances, marketing and sales, as well as distribution and market access. Until we have these areas figured out, we don’t need coaching towards investment readiness. We are in between, and need a program that suits these needs between early-stage and growth.” Jacquelien has little choice but to find this kind of support through her networks, which are rich thanks to her being located within Impact Hub Amsterdam.

How can we support #SocEnt in between programs? Click To Tweet

The questions this conversation has raised in me are how we as support organizations can help and empower social entrepreneurs within various phases of what we call “early stage” and “growth”. In addressing support gaps how can we organize to build a pipeline and offer tailored support to social entrepreneurs that do not fit into the programs currently offered or need a different mix of support services?

twitter@dscvrd

discovered.us

Netherlands Warm Up

Before heading to the Netherlands I came across a 2011 report by McKinsey & Co. “Opportunities for the Dutch Social Enterprise Sector“. It is four years old, the researchers analysed 700 social entrepreneurs, 100 of them in more detail – I figured this was as close as I was going to get to a country-specific report on the social enterprise sector.

Observation #1: Willemijn Verloop seems to be the person to know. Along with some introductions, another Social Venturer sent me an article about Social Enterprise in the Netherlands, featuring Willemijn Verloop. Co-author of this McKinsey report: Willemijn Verloop. Founder of two support organizations for social entrepreneurs in the Netherlands: Willemijn Verloop. The book “Social Enterprise Unraveled – Best practices from the Netherlands” that some interview partners recommended – written by: Willlemijn Verloop. I didn’t get to chance to meet her, tracking down this mastermind seems difficult. But if you read this, Willemijn, I’m waiting by the phone, coffee is on me!

Observation #2: The Dutch seem to have it together when it comes to being and working with social entrepreneurs. The report starts of with defining social enterprise as “a company with the primary goal to deliver social value in a financially sustainable and independent way”. Concise and without much lingo. I like it.

Dutch social enterprises: challenges and supporters

If you are one of the 4,000 – 5,000 social enterprises in the Netherlands, you are most likely active in sectors of biosystems, cleantech, economic development, civic engagement health and well-being, or education. Secondly, the challenges you are most likely to encounter are these:

  1. Developing business models – at the time only 42% of social enterprises under study were profitable
  2. Becoming a manager both internal and external: leading the company through a stage of scaling and growth, and in the process managing an increasing number of clients, data, and responsibilities
  3. Gaining access to venture capital
  4. Legislation
Challenges of Social Enterprises in the Netherlands, McKinsey, 2011, p.10

Challenges of Social Enterprises in the Netherlands, McKinsey, 2011, p.10

Let’s get to the juicy bits: The report has an entire chapter dedicated to support networks for social entrepreneurs internationally, and the Netherlands more specifically. Giving social venture support organizations concrete marching orders is great! If every country report ever written on social enterprise did that, I wouldn’t be doing this work. So, should you ever write a report for me, or with me, or about me, please include a chapter that talks about and to support organizations directly. Dankewell! For the Dutch sector the report lists four main types of support organizations:

  • coaches and education facilities
  • investors and match-makers
  • researchers, and
  • lobby organizations (to improve legislation)

The core of the report is a set of recommendations in which the authors call for

  • Promotion: awareness and visibility of the sector in the Netherlands
  • Education: gearing more talent towards the social enterprise sector
  • Support: management support in developing triple bottom line business models, coaching and access to relevant networks
  • Capital: access to seed and especially growth capital and matchmaking intermediaries
  • Guidelines: (inter)national standards for measuring both financial and social impact
  • Government recognition and support: for example in creating right conditions and opportunities for Social Enterprises to grow (e.g., supportive legislation)
Current Providers of Seed and Growth Capital in the Netherlands, McKinsey, 2011, p. 12

Current Providers of Seed and Growth Capital in the Netherlands, McKinsey, 2011, p. 12

To be fair, this was the first report of this kind that I have come across (point for the Dutch sector already), and with little material for comparison, I think it’s very concrete and direct. I was already looking forward to what I would find in the following week!

Kennisland

A Multi-Stakeholder Approach to Social Innovation

My second day in the Netherlands starts with a very early train ride from Utrecht to Amsterdam. I drop Spivet at the hostel that will provide my bed for the night. Some people are still stumbling their way home. The bartenders working the morning shifts in Warmoesstraat are taking the trash out dumping it on the narrow sidewalk. 8.30 a.m. The Social Venturer is on schedule. Perfect. I am watching my left and right more than usual, hundreds of bikes – and this is not a metaphor – swarm through the streets and over the bridges. I’m in the Netherlands. The grey weather comes as a bit of the surprise as I walk across the De Dam covered in the misty morning light. I march on along the canals, the chilly humid air making me shiver. 20 minutes later I arrive at Keizersgracht, right around the corner from Anne Frank House (which – in case you ever wanted to visit – has queues winding around several blocks). My first field visit of the day: Kennisland.

Aviary Photo_130769791017327957

Amsterdam Centraal

First of all – great place. Similar to Enviu everybody was working in utter silence (pun intended) sitting around large desks typing away on their computers. I agree, changing the world through entrepreneurship and innovation requires focus – I’m all for it. Don’t let me interrupt. Nora van der Linden had agreed to meet with me on very short notice and I was thrilled to be able to fire all my questions at her after having read their report Lab Matters on the train from Utrecht earlier that morning (click here for their latest publication on Social Labs).

Kennisland is a think tank that has been working to “make society smarter” (their humble mission, love it!) for more than 15 years. Their issue portfolio includes education, government, cultural heritage, copyright, the cultural sector and social innovation. As I soon found out, public responsibilities in the policy area of work and income, youth care, and long-term care for the elderly had recently been transferred from central to local governments.

How do you ensure that the services provided to vulnerable citizens match their real needs? Click To Tweet

This transition challenged the latter to find local solutions, and Kennisland has positioned itself to develop such local approaches. As we speak about their work in Social Labs, Nora helps me understand this approach: “With already limited resources, how do you ensure that the services provided to vulnerable citizens match their real needs and desires? This is what we try to figure out in Social Labs.”

Social Labs – User-centered design to develop local solutions

A Social Lab focuses on a specific issue in a certain area and is often commissioned by local government authorities. Kennisland sets out to analyse the context and understand the issue from different angles. They then identify the relevant community around that issue and invite local citizens, professionals and (local) government officials to assess the situation (week 1) and derive possible solutions (week 2). Based on a recent neighborhood example (read more about it here) Nora explains: “We first go out and collect stories of the people in that neighborhood trying to understand their life situation, needs, and how they are affected by the issue we want to address. We publish the stories, collect feedback and re-evaluate until we get it right. Based on these findings, we spend the second week talking to local service providers and municipalities taking the beneficiaries with us. We start a dialogue about the current situation and its challenges, and develop opportunities to solve the issue. We look for quick fixes as well as long-term solutions.” Every Social Lab ends in some type of festival or closing event where all stakeholders come together, present solutions and – if available – prototypes, and have a chance to discuss on how to move forward.

Questions of Sustainability

An obvious dilemma is the question of the sustainability of the developed solutions. Who takes the lead after the Social Lab experience, once the Kennisland team has gone back to their offices? To what extent do you manage to identify and equip community leaders within the short time frame of such a pop-up Social Lab, and support them in the long run? For now, Nora says “We managed to secure a follow-up project and can go back to the community for a longer period.” To me, Social Labs are a great tool to raise an issue and ignite a first spark in the search of long-term solutions and change. What follow-up mechanisms are available to pick up the work after a Social Lab?

Kennisland now also runs other labs that cover a longer time frame. In Dordrecht and Nijmegen they work with municipalities on questions affecting their young population and work issues for several months, with ‘Lab days’ each week.

Social Labs and Social Entrepreneurs

Throughout our conversation I was trying to figure out how social entrepreneurs fit into this equation. We had talked a lot about civic participation and involvement of different stakeholders. Nora helped me out: “Some individuals feel compelled to implement a social business to address a need that is not met by any other stakeholder within that community.

Social entrepreneurship can be a tool for social innovation, but it’s not the only option. Click To Tweet

Very much in line with what I would learn from other social innovation enablers over the coming days. The Dutch chorus seems to be “Social entrepreneurship can be a tool for social innovation, but it’s not the only option.” I had and would hear it a lot more on my field visits. So what can we learn from Social Labs?

Learnings for Social Enterprise Support

Social Labs are a great way of tackling a specific issue securing the buy-in from all parties involved. I sometimes find that social entrepreneurs participating in incubators or other support programs tend to work in isolation from their target beneficiaries without fully understanding

  • the root causes of the issue,
  • the impacts on the community,
  • the consequences for beneficiaries,
  • the involvement of other stakeholders in the issue, and
  • their potential contribution to the solution.

A Social Lab approach borrows from the Lean StartUp Method and is a great way of getting social entrepreneurs out of the building, their support program, and potentially develop business models that consider the above-mentioned issues.

twitter@Kennisland

kl.nl

Spotlight: Nora van der Linden

Nora VDL

What drives you?

My current question is “How can we make sure education creates equal opportunities and outcomes for all children instead of reproducing inequality? And how can we develop new inclusive approaches (like the social labs) to work in and around the education system?”

Biggest #SocEnt trend in the last 5 years?

Social entrepreneurship and being engaged with society, nature and the world around you more generally is becoming the norm. If your product or service is not sustainable or not contributing to a better world, you have to explain yourself. And this is not a bubble of only the elite, it’s a slow transformation into a more reflective society where people are aware of the consequences of their actions.

What are you reading right now?

  • Paul Jungbluth, on inequality in education
  • Het F-boek, on feminism today
  • The Bible for non-believers (Bijbel voor ongelovigen), Guus Kuijer
  • Ik kom terug, Adriaan van Dis
  • Different articles for some research on accelerators and incubators

Background

Nora studied sociology and philosophy at the University of Amsterdam and in fact had her first job at university. “At that point I was asking myself: ‘How can you not only think about change on a theoretical, academic level, but actually make it happen? At Kennisland, I had the opportunity to put many of my previous ideas into practice and learn how to make them work.” About her work in education and social innovation she says: ”This whole innovation language is the language of those who are already in the space rather than for people who are new to it. We need to be open and inviting, and among many other things, we need to break that language barrier.” Nora is involved with organizing the European Competition for Social Innovation and you can stay up-to-date with her work on the Kennisland website.

twitter@noravdl

photocredit: Giorgos GripeosCC BY 4.0