Social Entrepreneurship made by family business


1. Can we still separate social entrepreneurship from the "classical" business? Do companies not need to promote social entrepreneurship and sustainable economies in general to have a long-term chance of survival?

The most important thing is not to look at these two areas separately. In recent years, an artificial division between social entrepreneurship and traditional business has emerged that no longer works in the modern world. We live in“social” century - that's why we need to learn to link social and business  based on "shared value approach." A different mindset and the partnership with unusual stakeholders (e.g. social entreprneurs and local NGOs)  will  lead to better solutions for society and  bring innovations to the company—a win-win for both sides. The big trends reflected in the media,in reports and publications today show clearly that innovation means technical AND social innovation. This requires a new way of doing , an innovative mindset within the company, but also in the way on how we co-create with others. Also in the financial sector it’s getting obvious:   Investorswill invest primarily in companies that include social thinking and sustainable acting in the core business.

2. Against this background, what do you see as the most significant challenges (family) companies currently face?

Many  companies are struggling to link their r social activities to the core business. Often structures , such as dedicated CSR departments or corporate foundations do a great work, but they have only few linkages to the day by day business. Moreover, many companies find it challenging to measure their real social impact. A very powerful way is to experience the social innovation effect and impact directly on the spot. In our leadership weeks, we bring managers to our Making More Health areas in India and Africa or offer them frameworks to engage locally to give them the experience  of “engagementon the ground. They also have the opportunity to work with social enterprises and  NGOs to experience unusual partnerships and the daily challenges of communities.

3. Which projects have you accompanied in the past, and how have these projects changed the company's business model?

With the leadership and insight weeks described above, our employees are taken out of their comfort zone. By working with local communities, other questions are suddenly asked – it's no longer about what we need to change; it is about what are the needs the communities have and how to find the right solutions. This is also taken back to  the office – challenges  are addressed differently and solved more sustainably. We give our colleagues the chance to become social intrepreneurs in their own company. This is why we have launched an internal competition "Bag2thefuture" where employees can apply with a cross-functional team and a social idea. We support the best ideas with a small budget, network, and know-how and empower them to try out new ways of doing. This has a positive impact on the whole way of working, as employees can better understand why social entrepreneur and intrapreneurship is so essential.

4. How important is the topic of social entrepreneurship in the field of employee acquisition and development?

In particular, the younger generation will more likely want to work for companies engaged in societal issues. Also  older gerenations of  employees  engage a lot – when they find the right culture around and look for   added value that takes into account social issues.. Particularly in the current crisis, we have seen the importance of sharing and supporting others.

5. What are your wishes for the future?

We need a systematic change outside and inside the companies,  a shift in mindset that can take place at all levels to link social to business and viceversa. Sometimes it’s not the big solutions and projects only, but social innovation can start even  small, with few resources, and … passion. Most of all, we need to change the way on how we see and how we measure success. It’s not so much about key performance and output, but rather about outcome.  Social innovation happens when we start to see different things, while building unusual partnerships and starting to do things differently.