In ESEM, Members, NEWS

Although August is drawing to a close, Euclid Network (EN) continues to gather forward momentum from the seeds that were sowed in spring and summer. It is with great pleasure that we announce a new member of our network, the Social Entrepreneurship Network Germany (SEND). SEND has been a long-standing partner of EN throughout the years and we are proud to have them now officially join the network!

As is tradition for new members to Euclid Network, we interviewed the Chief Executive Officer, and Managing Director of SEND, Katrin Elsemann, to gather insights and introduce her social enterprise support organization to our members in her own words.

Social Entrepreneurship Network Germany at a Glance

SEND was founded about three and half years ago, and originally arose from the need to better collaborate with the existing social enterprises in Germany.

“There were different organisations on the meta-level in various German cities, like Ashoka, Social Impact, the Social Entrepreneurship Academy, and Impact Hub; along with a couple of other successful social enterprises, but there was no combined coordination to represent their interests, ideas and the demands of the sector towards the public and politics.”

SEND came about from these various actors joining forces, formulating their positions, and ultimately developing their own manifesto of what social entrepreneurship should look like in Germany.

Katrin has been leading SEND since its inception and was the only employee in the beginning. The organisation now has ten team members who work to represent a network of nearly 500 social enterprises.

Mission and Activities

With such a large network, one can imagine that the needs and desires of all these organisations vary. And indeed, according to Katrin, they do.

The overreaching goal of SEND is to develop a vibrant community of social entrepreneurs and actors in the German social entrepreneurship field. They work to achieve this through a variety of mechanisms. Katrin says, they “build regional groups within their membership, so these organisations can connect and inter-exchange needs.” Their members are also grouped according to their demands, their specific fields of work, and interests that each other organisation has. Naturally, all these different groups require a fair amount of community management, which SEND does.

SEND is also very active in the realm of advocacy. They speak regularly with various ministries to develop a rapport and strong working relationships, which they use to emphasise the importance of the social entrepreneurship sector and influence the kind of policies needed to help the sector flourish­.

They also seek to build bridges with various welfare organisations. Katrin explains:

“Welfare institutions play a very big role in Germany. They do a huge part of the social work in the fields of policy, housing, inclusion, occupation, and integration for disadvantaged people. Therefore, it’s very necessary that we establish a good relationship with existing, established organisations in these various fields, and then we come in with social start-ups, social innovations, and new actors, so they can benefit from each other.”

Advocacy in Action

Anyone who has worked in advocacy knows that it can sometimes be a slow process, taking many hours of relationship building with the right people, for matters to develop over time. Despite being a young organisation, they have already achieved great policy accomplishments stemming directly from their advocacy initiatives. From the top of her mind, Katrin goes on into detailing what success has looked like so far:

Photos courtesy of SEND

“There is a coalition initiative by the government on the topics of social innovation and social entrepreneurship in which they plan to support the field. They have a huge list of the things they plan to do – now we have to see whether those plans will be implemented. It’s a huge step forward. It has placed the topic of social entrepreneurship at the top of the agenda for the government – at least for a moment.”

There has been a massive development at the federal state levels as well: “Two federal states, Berlin and Hessen, have initiated programmes to foster social entrepreneurship. This is basically the first time that public funding on such a scale is going to be used to nurture the infrastructure of social entrepreneurship in Germany.”

Speculating on the Future of SEND

When asked about their future plans, Katrin enthusiastically says: We have a strategy and we have long-term goals in different sectors: in the sector of advocacy, work on professionalising the whole social entrepreneurship scene in Germany, building a vibrant community, and one of our important goals is to be more visible outside of our bubble.”

The future of SEND will revolve around dispelling the notion that social entrepreneurship is only an urban phenomenon. SEND wants to spread the message far and wide to “make more people aware that progress and innovation is for everyone, and it can be used to support solutions towards a more sustainable, fair, and social society.”

Working with Euclid Network

The idea to join Euclid Network first surfaced in 2018, not long after their founding:

“I was in touch with the former CEO of EN, Stephen Barnett. He came to Berlin and presented what Euclid does. I found that really interesting and I knew that at some point we would need to go in that direction. But then, we were small and it was just me. It was simply not possible for us to become part of an international network in that way. We had to find a more stable ground for ourselves first.”

This happened shortly before the European Union elections, which prompted another revelation. As a Network, they really wanted to pick up momentum and turned to Euclid Network’s, Veerle Klijn for help. The interaction was so positive, it led to an ongoing exchange, and it became even more definite that they wanted to join EN in the future.

If the chain of events for membership started in 2018, why did it take so long to join? With a smile, Katrin says: “Sometimes I forget that we weren’t an official member because we had already started the European Social Enterprise Monitor, and we were working very closely, but SEND wasn’t an official member, so we decided to change that now.”

The motto for Social Entrepreneurship Network Germany is: “Working collectively. Acting together”. We hope that this is exactly what is on the horizon with not just our newest member SEND, but for all EN members.

As they say in German, #GemeinsamWirken or #Let’sActTogether!

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