Socialnest , an innovative center in Valencia and Spain for the promotion of social entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs, professionals, students and all those with concern for helping finding an ecosystem of support, encouragement, training and opportunities to make their visions of a better world a reality. Margarita Albors, Project Manager, says it is committed to innovation and social entrepreneurship in network:
Q: Margarita, what is Socialnest?
A: Socialnest is a support center for social entrepreneurs. We support people who want to improve the world through a social enterprise.
Q: What is a Social Enterprise?
A: A social enterprise is an organization that aims to solve a major social or environmental problem by using business principles to be sustainable grow. A social enterprise is between a traditional NGO and a company. Has in common with an NGO that the social or environmental problem to be solved is the goal pursued, but unlike NGOs and like a traditional company, uses market principles to be financially sustainable and to grow in their operations. In these companies, the economic benefits are only the means, the end is the solution of social problems.
Some examples of social enterprises are, for example, The Fageda . This social enterprise seeks to work on social insertion with people with mental disabilities. It employs over 160 people with mental illness. This iis the goal, and it manufactures and sells dairy products. VisionSpring is another company that sells sunglasses at affordable prices to people in poor countries, by establishing a franchise system that provides jobs for many poor women.
Q: Going back to Socialnest. How do you help entrepreneurs who want to create social enterprises?
A: We help them through a training program and workshops on business management and social entrepreneurship, as well as emotional support, mentoring, contacts with potential funding sources and give them visibility to the projects. All this to promote a culture of collaboration among the entrepreneurs themselves. Often the entrepreneur’s path is very lonely, and to avoid it, there is a need to create a community around social entrepreneurs.
Q: How are you doing this?
A: We do it by involving all sectors of society. The workshops, training and mentoring are given by professionals, academics, business … who voluntarily contribute with their knowledge and experiences for social projects. We encourage and facilitate citizen participation in solving social problems, and therefore, we approach this type of initiative and act as a connecting node between all actors: professional, business, academic community, government, sources of funding …
Just now it is open a call for all those with an idea. In June the program will begin running until December. Both entrepreneurs and people who want to help in any way can find more information at our website: socialnest.org .
Q: How did it start?
A: The idea came after my experience in America. I was studying a masters at the University of Harvard and going to class, just outside of Harvard I met dozens of people homeless.This was shocking during my stay there and raised me how I could help improve things. Also I enjoy the atmosphere and ecosystem for entrepreneurship environment there, which is much stronger than here. What also influenced the creation of Socialnest was checking the high citizen participation in matters involving their community. It was something that surprised me and I realized that these two factors entrepreneurship and participation needed to be driven here to create a society and a better world.
I believe that social enterprises can play a very important role in improving many of the current problems, so I decided to create an organization to facilitate and encourage the creation of them and create an ecosystem around it.
Q: Why it is important to our economy the social innovation?
A: As we know, there are many social problems of very different natures: poverty, drug addiction, school failure, abuse, social exclusion … entrepreneurs seeking to resolve these problems in an innovative way, attacking from the root and in a way that is sustainable. We can imagine how to solve the problems in a sustainable manner would reduce some costs by the governments in addition improving the lives of many people and, thus, for example in the case of poor people, increasing their ability to participate in the economy, in the sense that they can have access to products and services that currently are unavailable to them, thus becoming new customers.
Q: What is the role of technology in social improvement?
A: The technology has an important role in improving society. Internet, for example, enables people from all over the world to help an initiative that is taking place elsewhere thousands of miles. An example is the case of Kiva , a social enterprise that enables anyone to make a small donation to entrepreneurs in developing countries, especially women, by way of credits. But not just internet, other applications of the technology that we can change the lives of the poorest in a very meaningful way. D. Light Design designs and sells solar powered lamps at affordable prices in areas where no electricity. The fact that people have more daylight hours can increase their productive hours. They can for example read or study whenever they want, which contributes to education, and therefore the reduction of poverty. The mobile is also a tool that is changing the lives of millions of people and giving them many opportunities.
Q: In Socialnest network you look for networking. What advantages do you see on it?
A: The social problems, as mentioned earlier, are varied and complex to solve, since many factors involved in them. Social entrepreneurs can not and should not act alone in order to have sustainable impact. Should collaborate with governments, businesses and NGOs. Knowledge, experience and resources of all of them are very valuable to address social problems and social entrepreneurs know. In Socialnest , we want to involve the whole community: universities, governments, NGOs, citizenship and thus assist in the social improvement through projects of social entrepreneurs. We also want to keep in touch withwhat is happen elsewhere in other parts of the world in innovation and social entrepreneurship, identify best practices, what works and does not work, and create and belong to networks that provide real value to what we want.
Q: Finally, could you mention some of the problems they seek to resolve the initiatives that are being submitted to Socialnest?
A: We’re starting. I can tell you that one initiative seeks to shorten the recovery time of the hospitalized children, another wants to offer sports and leisure activities for people with physical problems, and another one to employ women in exclusion.
Socialnest opens the way to support innovative entrepreneurs in promoting their business initiatives, and where the technology applied to development as a responseis a socio-economic challenges our community has an unstoppable future.