Engaging the Public Sector to Support Social Entrepreneurship

An Austrian initiative inspired by the European Commission’s Social Business Initiative

A graphic recording of the Have your Say conference in Strasbourg | Picture Credits © http://ec.europa.eu/


In January 2014, the European Commission invited to the “Social Entrepreneurs – Have your say event in Strasbourg”, bringing together around 2000 stakeholders of the European social entrepreneurship sector. The highly participatory process of the conference enabled the participants to come together, showcase the power of the sector and formulate the support needs to help the sector grow. All this culminated in the Strasbourg Declaration

Some highlights of the Strasbourg Declaration:

  • Social enterprises offer a model for 21st century business that balances financial, social, cultural and environmental needs.
  • Social enterprises work. They are effective. There is no part of Europe that cannot benefit from social entrepreneurship. At this time of economic crisis and with the challenges of an ageing population, youth unemployment, climate change and increasing inequalities, Europe needs more social enterprises.
  • In partnership with the social enterprise sector, Member States, regional and local authorities must fully support the growth of social enterprises and help them build capacity.

The Multistakeholder Summit on Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship

Kai's 50. Geburtstag
On June 24th, the Multistakeholder Summit on Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship took place in Palais Eschenbach. Picture Credit | © Markus Prantl gruppewasser.at


Inspired by the strong commitment of the European Commission to support Social Entrepreneurship with its Social Business Initiative, a group of key stakeholders followed the invitation of 6 host organsiations to come together and identify the main areas where the Austrian public sector can support social entrepreneurship.  After 5 months of work the results of three working groups 10 concrete suggestions for support were presented to minister Hundsdorfer and minister Rupprechter at the Multistakeholder Summit on June 24th

Image Credits | © Markus Prantl gruppewasser.at

Find more pictures of the Multistakeholder event here.

Together with high profile participants, i.e. minister Rudolf Hundstorfer, minister Andrä Rupprechter, Member of the Europen Parlament Heinz K. Becker, Deputy Headmaster of the WU Wien, Michael Meyer, and FAS-founder Harald Katzmair the 10 support needs were discussed and next steps were planned.

Concrete suggestions for how to support the Austrian social entrepreneurship sector

Some of the key recommendations:

  • To enable access to incubation services and local infrastructure
  • To support the development and spreading of educational activities
  • To create a funding program tailored to the financing needs of social entrepreneurs
  • To enable the access to private capital through tax incentives and alternative means of financing (i.e. Crowdfunding)
  • To redefine the Austrian definition of charitability (“Gemeinnützigkeit”) and give tax incentives to charitable foundations

It was very exciting to see that also the public sector in Austria is beginning to see the great potential of social innovation and social entrepreneurship in Austria. Everybody, who wants to contribute to this process going forward is warmly invited to get in touch with one of the 6 host organisations. This is just the beginning of the process!

The 6 host organisations:

Ashoka Austria, aws Austria Wirtschaftsservie, Austrian council, bdv Austria, Impact Hub Vienna and the Industriellenvereinigung (Federation of Austrian Industries)

Please find here the result of the 3 working groups
(business start-up and development support, legal frameworks and access to finance):

Please find here the 10 key recommendations for support:

Matthias Reisinger IMPACT IS… Doing what makes you come alive in a way it contributes to more than just yourself. WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE BECOMING PART OF THE IMPACT HUB VIENNA TEAM I was finishing my studies and building up emersense, the NGO which gave birth to the Hub WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? Prototyping the new way of doing business WHAT DO YOU WANT TO HAVE ACHIEVED AS PART OF THE IHV TEAM BY THE END OF THE YEAR? Hosting the impact eco-system in Austria and bringing it to the next level WHAT DOES YOUR PERFECT SUNDAY LOOK LIKE? Excercize + Chillaxation + Good Food & Good Movie in Good Company WHAT IS AN ABSOLUTELY RANDOM FACT ABOUT YOU THAT EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW? When I was learning the piano as a child, I refused to learn the music pieces I was supposed to, but only wanted to play my own compositions PLACE OF BIRTH? Linz, Austria LANGUAGES YOU SPEAK? German, English, French