Blog & News.
Blog & News.
This case study from Belgium has been provided by the Belgian partner in the BASET project – Creative District, illustrating an insightful example of a non-profit organisation, which has managed to overcome the challenges in the social impact ecosystem by implementing an innovative business model, proving systematic growth. Moreover, while scaling up with a very fast rate, it has boosted its positive social impact.
CREATIVE DISTRICT 2014-2019
Creative District was established in Belgium in 2014 as a non-profit association to promote entrepreneurs in the sector of CCI (Creative and Cultural Industries). In order to provide them with an adequate workspace, Creative District started its journey by identifying and occupying unused spaces.
The first experience proved to be very profitable from the point of view of the real estate owner: the completely empty building in which Creative District operated, benefited from its presence, its management and its dynamics to find new tenants and increase its price per square meter.
Over the years, Creative District has specialized in the revitalization of vacant spaces. From promoting entrepreneurs in the CCI sector, Creative District has set the mission of revitalizing vacant spaces by implementing projects with societal values and local anchorage, related to the creative industries, to revive them and re-create an economic activity.
Thus, the benefits have evolved significantly according to the expertise developed by Creative District. In parallel, more and more property owners have realised the novel business model of Creative District for the revitalization of their spaces, whether in consultancy, management, or activity creation.
Over time, the organisation has proved that this continuous support to entrepreneurs and providing them with workspaces and experimental grounds for their project is a win-win for the various stakeholders in the ecosystem.
Hence, more spaces can be revitalized leading to more positive and diversified impact. The evolution of Creative District's services from 2017 has not only required a change of the business plan, but also of the branding and marketing. Consequently, in 2019 the organisation created two new legal forms to better manage and valorise each type of services.
This pinpoints how crucial it is for an enterprise in the social ecosystem to be flexible, not only with their business model but also to be able to diversify in various ways. In conclusion, from the graphics above it is evident that over the years and during its development Creative District has gone through several transformational evolutions:
The newspaper Le Monde has recently (22/10/2018) reported the trend of business students who are more and more seduced by social entrepreneurship. Indeed, some students no longer hesitate to enter a large business school to develop a project with high social content. Here is a sentence from one of these students who seems to sum up this new state of mind: "When you have the chance to study, you have the responsibility to do something that you like and that animates you. " Kevin Berkane, a 28-year-old HEC graduate.
Thus, many are interested in associative engagement, specialization in social entrepreneurship or the creation of positive impact structures, and therefore correspond less and less to the cliché that we can make of these schools. But what happens after school? Indeed, for many of these students it can be difficult to make a career choice oriented towards social entrepreneurship, as this student explains: "It can be complicated to have invested in a school, for a certain standard of living, and finally to give it up. Personally, I tell myself that I prefer to take more time to repay my studies than to deny myself. But it's not an obvious choice either". For these young people, seeking to be accompanied is quite difficult as they emerge from 5 years of study: difficult to imagine redoing specific trainings in social entrepreneurship. Therefore, it is tempting for some of them to embark directly on the adventure when they have made their choice.
However, more and more European business schools are investing in the Hult Prize contest. Each year, the Hult Prize designates and accompanies a student start-up. In association with the United Nations, the Bill Clinton Foundation and the support of Education First, the winning team is awarded $ 1 million for its innovative and social project. This is enough to have the tools to get started, both in funding and support.
But what about others? Unfortunately, there are still no clear statistics on these students who have become social entrepreneurs. In Belgium, for the past decade, there have been platforms such as Coopcity, which offers tailor-made support programmes: discovering social and cooperative entrepreneurship, knowing the ecosystem, using specific tools to get started, finding financing adapted to the activity, choosing the appropriate governance, communicating on a project, etc. These kinds of platforms are especially useful for their willingness to create important networks, which is one of the biggest challenges for the social entrepreneur. These platforms create a link for actors who wish to engage in social entrepreneurship: project leaders, citizens, local authorities. They develop a rich community.
From the point of view of the Belgian public sector, social entrepreneurship is now completely ingrained in people's minds. Indeed, whether at the local level or at the regional level, the local authorities integrate into their policies and administrations the notion of social entrepreneurship.
Just look at the amount of calls for projects and grants issued by the state. But what about today's positioning of the social entrepreneur in the business world? The multiplication of links between start-ups and large groups shows a clear message: it is a source of innovation, on which the survival of companies depends today. For start-ups, it's about accelerating their growth by building on the strengths of their elders. In exchange for a source of youth and inspiration for groups that need to inject agility and flexibility into their model, to stay at the forefront of innovation. A win-win situation, called "open innovation", in which everyone finds his account.
According to an article by La Libre (03/07/2017), a forgotten element in this collaboration between start-ups and large groups is the social entrepreneur. Yet, present in the programmes of the largest business schools, social entrepreneurship is still struggling to make its way to the directions of innovation and strategy of large companies. Not enough "business", not enough strategic, not-for-profit and therefore no interest for a company?
A symbolic barrier and some prejudices seem to persist between the start-ups of the social and solidarity economy and their digital cousins, who at first glance appeal to them. However, the success stories of the social and solidarity economy exist and continue to demonstrate the strategic potential of collaborations between social entrepreneurs and large groups. Businesses have a lot to learn from the social entrepreneur's "toolbox". Social entrepreneurs design bottom-up strategies, know how to analyze concrete needs, on which they build agile strategies, and react to rapid changes in social contexts. A fluidity guided by a meaningful mission, which also attracts and retains the young talents of Generation Y, in search of fulfilling professional experiences. Finally, the social entrepreneur is by nature hybrid: he responds to the general interest, while ensuring the economic sustainability of his model. This ambivalence results in an ability to invent economic and financial models that shape the contours of the economy of tomorrow.
It is time to consider social entrepreneurs as levers of innovation for large companies, like classic startups. So far we have seen the positioning of social entrepreneurship in business schools, public sector, support platforms, and the business and industry sectors, but what about the public opinion? In the face of societal challenges, more and more citizens see values as a priority and question the meaning, ethics and responsibility of their actions. Although there is general awareness, the messages criticizing the current economic system are perceived as too negative. It is now time to move towards positive communication, more inspiring and mobilizing. It is important to give more visibility to concrete initiatives that already respond to various societal problems and that show that even small-scale change is possible.
By responding in an innovative way to societal challenges, social enterprises can re-link economic activities and society and provide a vehicle for transition. In conclusion, there is still some way to go about social enterprise, its image and its positioning. It should be noted that during a recent visit to Portugal, the King of Belgium argued that "Social entrepreneurship is now fully integrated into our Belgian economy". So be it!
On 26 October 2018 all partners in the BASET project gathered for the 3rd project meeting in Brussels, Belgium after the organised 5-days' Training & Review on the Social Entrepreneurship Model + Train the Trainers Toolkit. The project coordinator Knowledge, Innovation and Strategies Management Club (KISMC) and the project partners CEED Bulgaria, IDEC, Caban Capital and Creative District gathered to discuss the current status and results from the intellectual outputs so far as well as next steps for implementing the project BASET: Boost Aid for Social Entrepreneurship through Training.
The timing of the project meeting was very good, i.e. after the 1st project training, since all the feedback collected could be discussed and reviewed for taking on board the updating of the drafts of the 2 intellectual outputs:
The training orgnised prior the project meeting contributed also to the discussions for the future development cycle of the project as well as post the project duration. During the project KISMC provided a progress update on the SEDM, taking on board the additional comments and feedback from the previously held training with the educators from Bulgaria, Greece, Belgium and the UK. All partners suggested additional aspects that could slightly be improved and updated. Moreover, IDEC and CEED Bulgaria provided insights from the training's comments and feedback on the TTT and led the discussion on the structure and the development on the online platform. On the ground of all discussions, Caban Capital and Creative District took on board a collective overview of the best development of the intellectual output 3 - Train the Investors Handbook.
Furthermore, all project partners covered topics such as quality assurance and evaluation, dissemination of the project as well as project management and next steps. The project meeting helped the entire project team sync their efforts in a direction that would be beneficial to all stakeholders in the social entrepreneurship ecosystem. The meeting was also focused on discussions about the project activities, financial and administration details.
Training & Review on the Social Entrepreneurship Development Model + Train the Trainers Toolkit in Brussels [BASET]
On the 22-26 October 2018 all BASET partners - KISMC, CEED Bulgaria, IDEC, Caban Capital and Creative District, together with educators from Bulgaria, Greece, Belgium and the UK, took part in a 5-days training in Brussels under the project BASET: Boost Aid for Social Entrepreneurship through Training, co-financed by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.
The training, which was organised and hosted by the BASET project partner - Creative District, aimed at delivering a brief overview of the project, its target groups, main objectives and results so far, and more specifically the two already produced draft intellectual outputs:
All participants had the opportunity to support the project by testing the teaching methodology and the certification procedure implied by the project. There were discussions on how the Social Entrepreneurship Development Model provides the invited to the course educators with the necessary knowledge and information on the typology of social entrepreneurs. Furthermore, views were exchanged whether the information in the draft was useful and easy-to-use as well as there was an overview of what mentors and trainers needed to know about training and mentoring social entrepreneurs, which had been linked to how SEDM supports this process.
Additionally, the educators were familiarized with the Train the Trainers Toolkit and reviewed and assessed the relevance and ease of use of the established methodology. During the training there was a workshop for social entrepreneurship and discussions on the content, structure, tools, examples and best practices to be included in the further development of the project and the TTT.
Despite the training and overview of the two intellectual outputs - SEDM & TTT, the educators from all countries, invited by the project partners, actively took part with specially designed for the training workshops as well as everyone participated in diverse gamified activities supporting the delivery of the final results of the BASET project. The participants also presented about their case studies and best practices of working with social entrepreneurs & social enterprises, partnering for change and impact investment, social entrepreneurship challenges, social inclusion, neuroscience and emotional intelligence. Moreover, the discussions also covered the Business Model Canvas for social entrepreneurs and social impact as well as social innovation acceleration programmes.
Besides all the activities and intensity of the few days in Brussels, Creative District also invited all partners and educators in an area, which the organisation is currently in the process of revitalizing, due to securing a good number of commercial spaces to promote the cultural and creative sector by implementing projects by adding societal values.
All participants had the opportunity to learn more about the work of Creative District and their business model supporting social entrepreneurs. Because of the hard work, resilience and social mission, the team at Creative District are now providing access to spaces that usually people won't have access to, such as spaces with no value or the so called 'dead spaces' causing negative image to the specific neighbourhood, but via workspaces, meeting spaces, commercial spaces and exhibition spaces, Creative District has revived plenty of areas in Brussels and has supported the business and entrepreneurship community.
During the 5 days in Brussels, Creative District organised a visit to a social enterprise-restaurant Les Uns & Les Autres in the neighbourhood of Molenbeek, where all the participants could meet the social entrepreneurs, try the deliciously prepared food and have a feel of the community union of the place. This restaurant, social and open to all, is a local service created by the Local Mission of Molenbeek in August 2004. It is approved as "Local Initiative for Employment Development" (LDEI).
The feedback of all participants' experience was extremely positive, especially because the location of the restaurant, i.e. Molenbeek, which a few years ago was in the world spotlight for its Muslim population and presented as a jihadist breeding ground. This, unfortunately, destroyed the neighbourhood's image which has been slowly recovering in the last couple of years with the help of the local authorities and social entrepreneurs embracing the diversity, creativity and culture of the area.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
The Boost Aid for Social Entrepreneurship through Training /BASET/ Project No. 2017-1-BG01-KA204-036360 has been co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.
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