Hi Suzanne, it’s now the beginning of 2023 – what is the year ahead looking like for you?
As many of you may already know, 2023 begins with some exciting developments, namely my stepping down as CEO. I wanted to take this moment in my last newsletter to you to celebrate everything that has been achieved by us over the last years whilst I was CEO.
What would you say are the biggest successes over the last 4.5 years?
I see most often that social innovators are ordinary people brave enough to do extraordinary things. The same goes for the individuals in our community of impact leaders. The network has really raised the bar in supporting social enterprise, thanks to hard work of our team, members and partners. For me the following points really stand out – We have built strong strategic partnerships with public institutions, private organisations, corporates and impact funds. We strengthened our collaborations with peer impact organisations. We increased the organisational budget by 300% and extended the membership from 18 to nearly 50 fantastic organisations. This resulted in a much more engaged and supportive network, partnering on concrete programs that provide financial and non-financial support to social entrepreneurs throughout Europe.
What have been the main challenges for you?
It hasn’t all been easy as we have faced huge challenges: a pandemic, a war and an economic crisis.
However, these challenges have demonstrated our resilience and have brought the community closer together. At EN, we work with the front runners in the social enterprise space in Europe. Our job is to build up and strengthen an ecosystem that represents them and changes the environment where they operate. Social enterprises have the power to transform industries and inspire change in various ways. To get through challenges, social entrepreneurs need to be persistent, resilient and creative, and I think what they teach us is that every business has the power to change the world if they want to. In order to do that, they definitely need every support they can get along the way. We have shared, advocated, collaborated and rooted for social enterprises making them stronger and with more effect than before. That is where I see the relevance of our work through our community with members based in 24 countries, including social enterprise support organisations like incubators, national networks, research centres, and universities.
What do you see next for EN?
Since the triple transition in 2018, the Network has accelerated enormously and as well as moving to a new location in The Netherlands, we have created a new team and strategy which helped us to get to where we are today. We have every reason to be more bold about the work! After guiding EN through this growth and transformation process, I am confident that both the EN organization as well the broader EN community are set to grow. I am also confident that looking forward EN will continue to go from strength to strength achieving positive impact within the community and beyond.
Anything to add?
My personal drive throughout my career has been to enable entrepreneurs, with brilliant innovative ideas that tackle global challenges, to grow their impact. The time has come for me to start a new adventure and work even more closely with impact entrepreneurs and impact funds.
It has been a privilege to work with the talented team, the passionate members and cherished partners. A truly special group of people, that made EN grow into one of the leading social enterprise networks in Europe.
I wish Wouter Bakker, the new CEO every success and am confident he will do a fantastic job as well as have a great experience.
Neven, how do you look back on Suzanne’s years in leadership?
I have taken the responsibility of the Chair of the Board of Euclid Network in what could be described as turbulent times for the organisation. Due to Brexit, we were moving the network from UK to the Netherlands, trying to mobilise a new team, and most importantly the new CEO who will take on this transformational task. I think that both me personally, and the whole Board in general were very privileged that we had a chance to work with Suzanne on these important tasks over the past few years. Suzanne did a fantastic job of both managing this transition, but also further building the organisation, gathering a great team, establishing new relations, partnerships and growing our fantastic community of members throughout Europe. Taking on previous EN legacy, Suzanne has been able to build a most relevant European network for SE support organisations, while ensuring support and participation from some of the key stakeholders from European institutions, national and local governments as well as the business community. It was a great honour to work with her and I wish her all the best in her future endeavours, which will also be very successful. Of that I am sure of.