Social entrepreneurs are passionate entrepreneurs who bring innovative solutions and business models to the market with the main aim of driving positive social and environmental change. Yet, accessing and navigating through different funding opportunities, to sustain and grow their impact, can be a real challenge for social entrepreneurs as well as their support organisations. A fact that was not only highlighted in EN’s Annual Consultation, but also in the European Social Enterprise Monitor (ESEM). Therefore, supporting EN members, as well as the European social enterprise ecosystem, in accessing funding and updating them on new opportunities, is one of EN’s core activities to ensure their sustainability and lasting positive impact.
As part of the ‘Social Economy, the Future of Europe’ conference, a high-level conference organised by the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, EN co-organised two workshops focusing on ways to access EU funding and corporate funding opportunities.
To share knowledge, build new connections as well as boost inter-regional strategies with public authorities and social enterprises on how to participate, access and reinforce EU funds, EN co-organised with the Regional Ministry of Economic and Finance of the Government of Cantabria the ‘New ways to participate in EU funds’ workshop moderated by Anne Roussard, Trainer and consultant on EU funds.
Joined by over 30 participants, Veerle Klijn ,EN’s Head of Policy & EU Relations, and Gerlinde Schmidt, Project Officer at EN, kicked off the workshop by providing key insights on how to access EU funding, what to keep in mind when applying as well as tools on how to access EU funding, such as EN’s European Funding Toolkit for Social Enterprises and their Support Organisations. Afterwards, Paz Díaz Nieto, General Director of EU Funds, and David Sanjuan, Project Manager at European Projects Office, from the Regional Ministry of Economic and Finance of the Government of Cantabria showcased their regional work to boost the social economy, their ongoing projects as well as their role as an Interreg managing authority. After the two interventions, participants had the opportunity to connect in smaller roundtables, exchange their experience with EU funds and build new connections for future EU partnerships.
The “Financing Brilliant Solutions” workshop brought together an expert panel of funding experts from the demand and supply side of the social economy. This workshop sought to discuss strategies and avenues for ‘closing the financing gap’ for social entrepreneurs, across different European and national contexts.
Following the introduction of key facts & figures of the sector, and data resulting from EN’s ESEM by Wieteke Dupain, EN’s Head of Knowledge, Research and Development, we heard from Stefanos Kamperis from Staramaki Social Cooperative, and Joyce Knappe, from Pro Parents, on their journey towards accessing funding and what they hope for the future.
Funding experts such as Rowan Barnett, Head of Google.org EMEA, Bianca Polidoro, Senior Policy and EU Relations Manager at EVPA, Gorgi Klrev, Senior Researcher at CSI Heidelberg, Neven Marinovic, Director of Smart Kolektiv and President of the board of EN and Bjorn Vennema, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Social Finance NL led physical roundtables with participants to brainstorm solutions for some of the challenges highlighted by the SEs.
Where do we go from here you ask? EN is strategically positioned to support its members, and the wider SE community, in bringing together decision-making actors, shine a light on common financing challenges which go beyond borders, showcase best practices and success stories and thriumphs, ultimately seeking to build stronger connections between the supply and demand side.
Stay tuned to EN for more information on Access to Funding on our social media channels and website.