Final Conference: all deliverables available!


Thank you!

During two conference days we welcomed almost 200 (social) entrepreneurs, policy makers and academics. We would like to thank everybody for being there, for helping out and for adding their voice to the debate. Below you can find all necessary documents, videos, pictures and presentations to get inspired even more, or to relive your favourite moments of the conference.


You can find all conference photos in our Facebook album.


Click on the respective speakers to download the presentations in PDF format!


Testimonial presentations:

Library Corner

Click on the links to download the requested documents.

Person-Organization Fit and Incentives: A Casual Test

The Person in Social Entrepreneurship: A Systematic Review of Research on the Social Entrepreneurial Personality

Market-Oriented and Mission-Focused: Social Enterprises Around The Globe

Subliminal influence on generosity

Human capital in social and commercial entrepreneurship

Women's Entrepreneurship: Closing the gender gap in access to financial and other services and in social entrepreneurship

Resisting Temptation

Organizations Driving Positive Social Change: A Review and an Integrative Framework of Change Processes

On the compatibility of benevolence and self-interest: Philanthropy and entrepreneurial orientation

Women CEOs in social enterprises earn 29% less than their male counterparts

Institutions and social entrepreneurship: The role of institutional voids, institutional support, and institutional configurations

Policy Brief on Scaling the Impact of Social Enterprises

The welfare state and social entrepreneurship: Insights from a multi-level study of European regions

Women earn less than men even when they set the pay

To ask or not to ask? The power and pain of seeking feedback

A new apprenticeship for a new economic reality

Unltd Impact Report 2016

How corporates can engage with social entrepreneurs

How can social entrepeneurship break through?

Book launch: “Innovation and Scaling for Impact. How effective social enterprises do it” by Christian Seelos and Johanna Mair

Johanna Mair & Christian Seelos

During our first international SEFORÏS Conference in Birmingham, Prof. Johanna Mair, Professor of Organization, Strategy and Leadership at the Hertie School of Governance, Academic Editor of the Stanford Social Innovation Review and Scholar at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society gave a keynote on innovation processes,  scaling capacity and social impact of social enterprises.

The insights of over 10 years of research are now gathered in the new book “Innovation and Scaling for Impact. How effective social enterprises do it”, published by Stanford University Press and co-authored with Christian Seelos, Adjunct Professor at the Hertie School of Governance and a Visiting Scholar at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society.

The book draws on four in-depth case studies of social sector organizations that represent innovation archetypes. Issues such as learning processes in organizations, innovation pathologies and the relationship between achieving social impact, innovating and scaling are furthermore all highlighted and thoroughly discussed in the book.

A copy of the book can also be ordered online.

A more detailed overview of the book can be found here.

SEFORÏS paper puts forward a positive view of how Welfare States and Solidarity enable Social Entrepreneurship and wins Best Paper award at leading Entrepreneurship conference

SEFORÏS paper puts forward a positive view of how Welfare States and Solidarity enable Social Entrepreneurship and  wins Best Paper award at the leading Entrepreneurship conference (BCERC).

The paper is entitled “The welfare state and social entrepreneurship: insights from a multi-level study of European Regions”. Authors are Aston University academics Emma Folmer, Anna Rebmann and Ute Stephan.

Emma, Anna and Ute investigate the relationship between solidarity attitudes and social entrepreneurship. National welfare states are an expression of solidarity. They aim to redistribute income and life chances. In turn, how extensive and ‘compassionate’ national welfare systems are depends in part on citizen’s attitudes toward solidarity including redistribution. Indeed in many countries the welfare state has increasingly come under pressure and has been downsized or ‘rolled back’ considerably (even before the 2008 financial crisis). Governments especially in developed economies increasingly see social businesses as complementing or even replacing welfare state interventions. They thus seem to expect that social enterprises will ‘fill the gap’ left by government welfare programmes.

However, we do not know much about how social entrepreneurship is related to support for and the configuration of the welfare state. Does solidarity, the foundation of the welfare state, also drive social entrepreneurship? If people support the welfare state, and thus the idea of redistribution, does that make them more likely to engage in social entrepreneurship? And if the welfare state works well, are people still inclined to start social businesses? Is it the case that large welfare states lead to complacency – if welfare states ‘take care’ of social needs then social enterprises are not needed –; or may there be spillover effects such that more expansive welfare state signal to their citizens that ‘it is good to care’ and stimulate social entrepreneurship?

The team analysed data from the European Social Survey and the Flash Euro Barometer on entrepreneurship to answer these questions. They focussed on a subset of social entrepreneurs, those that form as businesses but with a clear goal to create social or environmental benefits. As there is evidence for growing regional socioeconomic inequalities within Europe, the research took a regional perspective (while controlling for country differences).

Emma, Anna and Ute find that there are more social entrepreneurs in regions where people have more positive attitudes toward welfare state redistribution. They also observe more social entrepreneurs in regions where the welfare state is performing well. Thus, individuals are more likely to become social entrepreneurs in areas where social problems are seen as collective problems, as something that all members of society bear some responsibility for. This is in contrast with views that argue for trade-offs and suggest that welfare states may crowd out individual’s social initiative. Rather, the positive relationship between welfare state performance and the regional share of social entrepreneurship that the current study finds, means that a ‘rolling back of the state’ by itself will not result in alternative social service provision by social enterprises. A well-functioning welfare state allows social entrepreneurs to thrive. 

Post-event materials of the International SEFORÏS Conference in Birmingham available!

On 9 December 2016 SEFORÏS held an International Conference in collaboration with Aston University in Birmingham. The aim was to combine both research findings from SEFORÏS researchers and practical examples from social enterprises in Europe and China as a basis for discussion and future recommendations for policy makers. More than 75 social entrepreneurs, researchers and policy makers joined us, with lively discussions and debates as a result. The conference programme can be found once again via this link.

Our next, and final, conference is taking place on 16 and 17 March in Brussels! Save the date!

Downloadable Presentations

Introduction to SEFORÏS by Prof. Ute Stephan, Aston University, UK

Keynote by Professor Johanna Mair, Hertie School of Governance, Germany & Stanford University, USA: "Innovation and Scaling - How effective Social Entrepreneurs create Impact"

Presentation by Dr. Miriam Wolf, Hertie School of Governance, Germany: "Governance in Social Enterprises. Insights from SEFORÏS"

Presentation by Assoc. Prof. Chloé Le Coq, Stockholm School of Economics (SITE), Sweden: "Financing Social Enterprises. Insights from SEFORÏS"

Presentation by Dr. Alain Daou, KU Leuven, Belgium: "Innovation in Social Enterprises and Social Innovation. Insights from SEFORЇS"

Presentation by Dr. Marieke Huysentruyt, HEC Paris, France & Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden: "Scaling Impact in Social Enterprises. Insights from SEFORЇS"

Presentation by Dr. Emma Folmer, Aston University, UK: "Social Enterprises across Countries: More Similar than Different? Insights from SEFORЇS"


Check out the conference photos in our Facebook Album.

Video footage

All presentations, roundtable and discussions and debates have been recorded and can be found in one simple YouTube playlist below:

Funded PhD-studentships available at Aston University to pursue a PhD in Social Entrepreneurship

Aston Business School offers ESRC-funded PhD studentships as part of the Business and Management pathway in the Midlands Graduate School Doctoral Training Programme. More information about the programme can be found here. The deadline for application is Jan 24th. Please note that due to ESRC rules only UK or EU citizens can apply for this scheme.

If you are interested please contact Prof Ute Stephan or Dr Emma Folmer for discussion of social enterprise-related PhD proposals.


Social enterprises in Germany and the refugee crisis: What role do they take?

By Miriam Wolf and Alexandra Ioan

More than a year ago - in the midst of what is often called the refugee crisis and in the midst of our survey data collection - we realized that organizations in the social sector were rethinking their activities as a reaction to the refugee crisis. We reflected about the role of German social enterprises might take in this situation in a country where the state has a particularly strong and pronounced role in social service provision. 

Meanwhile, looking at the survey results from the SEFORÏS project, German social enterprises emerged as particularly strong collaborators and innovators.  

This motivated us to take a step back and look more closely at what this means in the context of the refugee crisis. We followed up with almost a quarter (24) of the 107 German organizations who participated in our survey and asked them about the role they took in relation to this new challenge. 

While half of these organizations indicated that they had already worked with refugees before the refugee crisis, most of them have intensified or scaled their services as a consequence of the crisis. 9 out of 24 organizations indicated that they added refugees as beneficiaries to their target groups, 6 of them long-term, 3 temporarily. Only two organizations indicated they do not work with refugees and do not plan to do so in the future. 

Adapting established structures to changing needs

We found that 21 out of the 24 social enterprises that responded to our short survey have developed new services (15), processes (8) or products (7) as a response to needs they saw emerging with the refugee crisis. 

So what kind of services, products and processes did they predominantly develop? We find two principal types of social enterprises in this case: the ‘capacity builders’ and the ‘access facilitators’.

The ’capacity builders’ channel resources into other organizations or actors working with refugees: they support schools, youth organizations or business organizations in working with refugees. This type of social enterprises engages in adapting existing structures to changing needs – for instance by supporting teachers in dealing with students who do not speak German and have a different cultural background. 

The ’access facilitators’ focuses on the refugees themselves. Here we found predominantly organizations who support refugees to enter the labor market or gain access to education, thus enabling the target group to make use of existing structures and opportunities. 

This suggests that, apart from the organizations that design their own internal programs for refugees, social enterprises also take a mediating role in the refugee crisis: one the one hand they support established structures in adapting to changing needs, while on the other they enable beneficiaries to make use of existing opportunities.

Socia enterprises - refugees

Strength through collaboration and diversity

A year ago we also asked if the refugee crisis might be an opportunity for diverse actors in the German welfare state to move closer together and address challenges collectively. Today we find that on average, the 24 social enterprises we followed-up with reported to collaborate with more than 4 different types of partners in their refugee-related activities. What is striking is the diversity of collaborations:  14 collaborate with welfare organizations, 13 with other social enterprises, 12 with charities and 11 with business organizations. This corroborates our more general SEFORÏS survey findings about the connecting role of social enterprises linking sectors and stakeholders in tackling social challenges.

Although our data on the role of social enterprises in the refugee crisis is not representative of a large population, it does gives some further food for thought of how social enterprises contribute to solving emerging social challenges. Firstly, by mediating between existing structures and changing social needs, they contribute to the adaptation of the social sector to emerging challenges. Secondly, by collaborating with actors from different sectors simultaneously they contribute to pooling capacities and resources to tackle the social challenges we face as a society. 

First SEFORÏS Cross-Country Results available!

Market-Oriented and Mission-Focused: Social Enterprises Around the Globe

Between April 2015 and December 2015, the SEFORÏS consortium surveyed over 1000 social enterprises in Hungary, Romania, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Russia and China. This means that thanks to the diligent cooperation of social enterprises and funding from the European Union, we have been able to launch the world’s largest and most rigorous panel database on social enterprises. This report presents key findings for all the countries investigated. Where possible, we compare findings to the 2009 SELUSI survey, the predecessor of the SEFORIS project. 

A detailed blog post, written by SEFORÏS researchers Marieke Huysentruyt, Johanna Mair and Ute Stephan is available on Stanford Social Innovation Review's website.

The 1st IESE-LUISS Conference on Responsibility, Sustainability and Social Entrepreneurship

Hybrid Organisations: walking at the edge between economic performance and social & environmental impact

Hybrid Organisations: walking at the edge between economic performance and social & environmental impact

The 1st IESE-LUISS Conference on Responsibility, Sustainability and Social Entrepreneurship
18-19 April 2017, Rome Italy 

This conference, possibly the first of a series, is aimed at gathering scholars from different literature streams interested in highlighting the mechanisms through which hybridity is created and sustained. To give more substance to the debate we asked key scholars in the field –among them Johanna MairAnne Claire PacheGuido PalazzoTommaso Ramus and Ute Stephan, who already accepted our invitation- to join us and present their work. To give more visibility to the research discussed at the conference, we proposed to the Journal of Business Ethics, one of the leading journals in the field, to create a Thematic Symposium on these themes linked to the conference.

This call for papers aims at generating a conference exploring how organisational hybridity is created and sustained, with particular reference to social enterprises. 

Call for papers! 
Submission deadline [EXTENDED]: 20/01/2017



EXCEPTIONAL SPEAKERS: Johanna Mair (SEFORÏS) , Anne Claire Pache, Guido Palazzo, Tommaso Ramus and Ute Stephan (SEFORÏS).

SPECIAL ISSUE: The Journal of Business Ethics will create a Thematic Symposium linked to the conference.

EXTENSIVE DISCUSSION OF YOUR WORK: Each paper will be allocated a large slot for presentation and Q&A. In each parallel session a discussant -asked to read the papers in advance- will give feedback. 

DEVELOPING SCHOLARSHIP: The conference hosts a Ph.D. and Early Career Symposium.

SEFORÏS at the 8th International Social Innovation Research Conference (ISIRC) in Glasgow

Between September 5th and 7th 2016, Prof. Ute Stephan from Aston University (UK), Dr. Miriam Wolf and Alexandra Ioan from the Hertie School of Governance (Germany) attended the 8th International Social Innovation Research Conference in Glasgow and presented some first insights generated through the SEFORÏS project.

Prof. Ute Stephan gave a keynote speech (download here) on the role of social entrepreneurship in achieving social change. Going beyond discussing the internal challenges that social enterprises face, the talk focused more on the way in which these organizations have societal impact through their wide range of activities. Drawing on the existing knowledge from several research disciplines, Prof. Stephan focused on a framework for change that can be useful both for practitioners and researchers when discussing social impact.

SEFORÏS was represented also by Dr. Miriam Wolf and Alexandra Ioan who presented first research insights in the “Governance and stakeholders” conference stream. Dr. Wolf’s presentation concentrated around the topic of governance and the key role it plays for social enterprises both internally and externally, as they adapt to different contexts. Ms. Ioan’s presentation revolved around particular cases of social enterprises in Germany and the particularities of their development in this specific welfare system.

The ISIRC 2016 conference was a great occasion to open up some of the current debates around social innovation, social enterprises and their role in society. Some of these topics and many more will also be discussed at the SEFORÏS conference on December 9th, 2016 at Aston University, in Birmingham, UK. 

Do women earn less, even as social entrepreneurs?

According to a recent study, of which we published a summary in our news section in September 2015, female CEOs earn 29% less than their male counterparts.

Gender differences in pay are ever-present at all organisational levels. As CEOs of their own organisations, entrepreneurs largely determine their own pay. In addition, social entrepreneurship may be a particularly gender-blind occupational choice; evidence indicates that women are more likely to start a social enterprise.

Do women at the top of social enterprises see a gender pay gap? 

Saul Estrin (London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)), Ute Stephan (Aston University - Aston Business School) and  Suncica Vujic (VU University Amsterdam - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration) share the outcomes of their research in the interview below.

SEFORÏS research discussed at the Stanford PACS Junior Scholars Forum hosted by the Hertie School of Governance

The Stanford Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society held its 3rd annual Junior Scholars Forum at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin between June 15th – 17th, 2016. SEFORÏS research was well represented. Alexandra Ioan presented her research on patterns of interaction between social enterprises, resource providers and established social welfare organizations in Germany. Miriam Wolf acted as a discussant of a paper unpacking the role of transparency in philanthropic organizations.

As Johanna Mair, convener of the forum jointly with Walter W. Powell, Rob Reich and Paul Brest and member of the SEFORÏS academic board explains, the Junior Scholars Forum is the most powerful tool to disseminate, test and refine emerging insights from our research on social enterprises in 7 European countries, China and Russia. The issues of governance, financing, impact, innovation and institutional context that are core to the research undertakings in SEFORÏS were highlighted throughout the discussions.

The Stanford PACS Junior Scholars Forum brings together young researchers working on civil society, philanthropy, social entrepreneurship with the aim of creating an intellectual community around these issues. The intense exchange between junior and senior scholars during the Forum contributes to the development of high-quality research in this domain. By building an interdisciplinary research community, Stanford PACS is supporting the next generation of dedicated scholars in this field.

This year`s Forum hosted 11 junior scholars from 10 different nationalities working in 8 different countries. They conduct work on topics such as transparency, the sharing economy, collaborations between civil society organizations and private companies, social impact measurement and social entrepreneurship.  

The remarkable growth and resilience of the SWEET project



The story of the SWEET Project is a story of remarkable growth and resilience. The SWEET Project provides placements for university students who are qualifying as social workers. While being trained and supervised, these students provide social support to families living in the South of Birmingham.

Jayne Hulbert and Jayne Creswell had always liked the idea of a student social work training unit. Jayne Hulbert has been a long time social worker in the South of Birmingham and Jayne Creswell is a senior family support worker. When other support services were withdrawing from the area in 2009 they knew the time was ripe to start the SWEET project. As it reads on their website: ‘The idea was simple and had two aims: on the one hand, to find a workable means of meeting the needs of families and adults; at the same time, to provide the quality of placement learning opportunities for student social workers. But would it be possible to combine the two? The SWEET Project was born out of this question’.

31 universities

It did prove possible, as testified by the remarkable growth of the SWEET Project in its first years. The first group of students, coming from the University of Birmingham, reported back to their placement supervisors about their exceptional learning experience. The University of Birmingham committed more students to the SWEET Project in its early phases and soon other Universities came on board. Today, students from 31 Universities all over the country do their work placements at SWEET to become qualified social workers. The SWEET Project receives a daily placement fee for each student, which funds the salaries of the staff and any overheads. All social services are provided free of charge.


At least they were, until the SWEET Project was hit with an unwelcome surprise. In 2014, the government announced it was reducing placement fees for social work students by one third, effectively taking one third of the project’s income away. However, the founders and staff of the SWEET project have shown remarkable resilience. They have succeeded in securing a contract with the Birmingham City Council to deliver part of its social services for children and families. Also, some of SWEET’s clients such as schools have now started paying fees for the tailor-made support that SWEET provides to some of their children. The SWEET project has now also started a consultancy service for social start-ups – offering their expertise to aspiring social entrepreneurs.

It looks like the SWEET Project will be able to recover from this external shock by being creative and working in partnership. The SWEET Project has won several awards since its founding in 2010:

  • 2011 – The Big Society Award, awarded by Prime Minister David Cameron
  • 2011 – Winner of the Big Venture Challenge Award an award for ambitious scalable social venture that is run by UnLtd, the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs.
  • 2012 – Social Enterprise UK awarded the SWEET project for being the most innovative social enterprise of the year.

Read more about the SWEET project on their website:

The SWEET Project was also featured in the Guardian:

Discover 6 social enterprises fighting housing and energy poverty

Universal access to affordable and modern energy services is critical to sustainable development, the World Bank states. According to its World Development Indicators improvements over the past two decades led to 85 percent of the world enjoying access to electricity in 2012. Yet, 1.1 billion people are still without. Likewise, The EU estimates 11% of its inhabitants may have to deal with energy poverty. An important opportunity, as well as a challenge, may be provided by the way we deal with urban development, now and in the future. An estimated 60 percent of the world's population will live in urban areas by 2030. Access to adequate housing with resilient energy infrastructures will be ever more key to sustainable and healthy (urban) life. This triggered us to look into what some of the social enterprises we have surveyed do in these closely, interlinked domains. Below you will find links to six social enterprises from China, Germany, Portugal and the UK. It shows they myriad ways social enterprises try to achieve social impact in regards to housing and energy poverty.

Grwp Cynefin (Wales)

Grwp Cynefin is a housing association in North Wales offering affordable housing in rural communities. It aims to be a catalyst for positive social change in communities in Wales. They have projects around preventing domestic abuse and homelessness as well as projects around housing, employment and language.

Mobisol (Germany)

Mobisol provides low-income customers in developing country with solar energy systems for their homes. Depending on the size of these systems, they provide enough energy for various home appliances but also small businesses of the home owners which help them generate additional income.

Nottingham Energy Partnership (UK)

NEP provides an independent body to drive forward the climate change agenda. They are a platform for climate change prevention partnerships, working across all sectors within Nottingham. Within this role they work with partner agencies with the aim of alleviating fuel poverty and educating the public about energy efficiency, ensuring that those most in need achieve affordable warmth and a better quality of life.

Qi Chuang – Elderly Home Renovation Program (China)

Qi Chuang started its elderly home renovation program after two years of site visits to community care centers and the homes of elderly persons who live alone or are poor. They found various alarming safety concerns in 6 out of 10 homes they visited, including uneven floors, important passages and bathrooms without handrails and corroded wiring. They also discovered that in homes where the furniture is weighted or fixed in place, the fall rate is lower compared with homes with no renovation. As of March 6th,2015, the program had evaluated 137 homes and renovated 94 homes, in addition to improved hall passages in 3 public housing compounds for the elderly.
Website: (Chinese)

Solarkiosk (Germany)

Solarkiosk targets bottom-of-the-pyramid communities where they operate the Solarkiosk E-Hubb, an energy center that can serve as an energy and business outlet for these communities using solar power.

TESE (Portugal)

TESE is a Non-Governmental Development Organization (NGO) that aims to support the sustainable development of deprived communities and regions in Portugal and in developing countries through the creation and implementation of innovative responses that best promote social development, equal opportunities and quality of life. In developing countries, including Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe, TESE Without Borders works in articulation with local partners, formulates and implements projects promoting the access to water, waste and energy services.

SEFORÏS welcomes LUISS Guido Carli as its newest academic partner

The incorporation of LUISS Guido Carli in the SEFORÏS consortium represents an important step in the consortium efforts to spread the SEFORÏS research methodology and project objectives to countries outside of the original set of SELUSI and SEFORÏS countries.

SEFORÏS at LUISS will be coordinated by prof. Tomislav Rimac who has been a principal investigator from the beginning of the project, ensuring a seamless transition. SEFORÏS activities will be carried out within The Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability Hub (ERSHub), LUISS center of excellence whose aim is development of expertise on sustainability and related topics and development and implementation of solutions for real social needs by filling the gap between development of new ideas and their implementation. SEFORÏS joins other LUISS initiatives such as the International Center for Research on Social Innovation (CeRIIS), the Program for Student Volunteering (VolontariaMENTE), and the Laboratory for the Governance of Commons (LabGov) that work together towards making LUISS an Italian and European center of excellence for sustainability and social and solidarity economy.

Founded in 1966, LUISS Guido Carli is one of the major private Italian universities strongly committed to the development, transfer, and dissemination of knowledge, by conducting research activities and educating talented individuals. Recognized for its academic excellence, LUISS comprises four Departments - Economics and Finance, Business and Management, Political Science and Law – and three schools – LUISS Business School, LUISS School of Government, and LUISS School of European Political Economy. Thanks to its affiliation with Confindustria, the Confederation of Italian Industry, LUISS has developed strong corporate links that offer reciprocal, unique research opportunities for LUISS researchers and business practitioners. Department of Business and Management coordinates research activities across the areas of business administration, management, innovation, and ethics, responsibility, and sustainability. Through theoretical and applied research in collaboration with academics from national and international universities as well as from public and private organizations, its faculty aims to develop new management knowledge, approaches and methods to contribute to the academic debate as well as provide a long-lasting impact in the practitioner world.

Milestone: over 1.000 directors of social enterprises surveyed

SEFORÏS is proud to announce an important milestone: we have surveyed over 1.000 directors of social enterprises in China, Russia and the EU.

SEFORÏS has surveyed over 1.000 social enterprises across Europe, Russia and China. The survey will provide us with a bottom-up view that should help us better understand the role of social enterprise in leading to a more inclusive, innovative society.

"We are very proud to announce this important research milestone for SEFORÏS. 2016, therefore, looks hugely promising. I very much look forward to working with all of you, to help ensure that we make a big, positive impact on the research frontiers, as well as on actual social entrepreneurship and the ecosystems social enterprises rely on", says Marieke Huysentruyt, principal investigator and member of the SEFORÏS Academic Advisory Board and co-founder of Oksigen Lab.

Critical to the success of the survey was integrating the issue of context - how formal and informal institutions, social capital environment and resources affect social enterprise performance and vice versa. In conjunction with the analysis of governance, impact, financing and innovation, this should allow us to develop thoughtful insights for new policy geared toward social entrepreneurs and social innovation.

Country Reports

In the spring of 2016 SEFORÏS will publish country reports for each of the 9 participating countries. They will contain first analyses and profiling of social enterprises in the 9 countries separately. This will later lead to comparative analyses.

Discover 17 social enterprises that fight climate change

As the dust from the Climate Conference in Paris (COP21) settles - nearly 200 countries and 40.000 negotiators attended the meeting – we wondered about what social enterprises are doing to mitigate or counter climate change. Below you will find 17 social enterprises from Germany, Sweden, Russia and the United Kingdom that each in their own particular way wish to make a contribution to the sustainable transformation of our societies.

While climate negotiations have been going on for more than two decades, climate change does not wait for binding decisions: the atmosphere and oceans keep becoming warmer, the amounts of snow and ice keep diminishing. Droughts, floods and rising sea levels keep destroying important infrastructures, diminishing agricultural productivity and forcing communities to dislocate.

Driven by economic and population growth, anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have been increasing since the pre-industrial era and today they are higher than ever. If we carry on like this, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reminds us, we risk severe and irreversible impacts on the natural environment and with this on our food supplies, jobs and homes. We know what the reasons for climate change are and we know that it is time to act.

But what about the role of companies? The Harvard Business Review recently published an article entitled " Corporations will never solve climate change" stating that "The reality is that voluntary corporate greening measures don't achieve scale, and therefore aren't climate solutions." Social enterprises may deserve a second look.

As our 17 examples show – and there are many more examples - social enterprises develop solutions on the ground: they create awareness, change attitudes, change patterns of behavior and consumption and develop innovative technologies and solutions. Through this, they contribute to paving the way towards political decisions and hopefully to a shift towards a more environmentally and socially sustainable communities and societies.


1. CO2 Online

CO2 online assists private households in decreasing their consumption of energy and with this lower their CO2 emissions. At the same time, consumers benefit from lower energy bills.

2. Jyoti

Jyoti designs products such as clothing and accessories out of recycled, ecologically, and equitably produced materials. The earnings enable the funding of literacy and education programs with emphasis on labor and women's rights, as well as the provision of health insurance. Together they develop individual projects that deal with finding future permanent and self-employment opportunities, where they can apply their newly acquired skills. At the same time, Jyoti addresses issues of overconsumption, and resource waste in Germany, creating awareness about how consumption impacts lives and the natural environment.

3. Polarstern

Polarstern provides exclusively green energy to customers in Germany and, together with them, enables households in Cambodia to build their own biogas digesters that generate biogas from implement livestock and human waste. Their story gives insights into how intersections between agribusiness, green energy, micro-financing and international collaborations work on the ground.


SOLARKIOSK has pioneered and scaled up a solar-powered technology design and an inclusive business model that are tailored for the specific needs of communities that aren't connected to the electricity grid. It includes local entrepreneurs as franchise partners who provide clean energy services and affordable solar products.

5. Yesil Cember

Yesil Cember works with immigrant communities in Germany who often remain disconnected from environmental protection efforts. Environmental groups have failed to integrate the Turkish community as well as other immigrant populations into their efforts. This results in key segments of German society not yet embracing environmental concerns as one key shared challenge facing the country. Yesil Cember, develops Turkish information material, provides training on environmental protection at Turkish community centers, and trains women as local multipliers promoting collaboration between German environmental organizations, Turkish migrant associations, state agencies, Turkish and German media corporations, and other relevant stakeholders.


6. Экологическая вахта Сахалина (Sakhalin Environment Watch)

The mission of Sakhalin Environment Watch is nature conservation, environmental protection and ecological protection of the rights of citizens. Their most recent action concentrated on the oil spill liquidation in Nevelsk in 2015.

7. Экологический центр Дронт (Environmental Center Dront)

The mission of the Environmental Center Dront is to study wildlife, environmental protection, environmental education, hence contributing to a better world. One of their most recent projects is called 'Defend your ecological rights', it's goal is the assistance to citizens in the protection and realization of their ecological rights. The project was created to ensure that anyone who wishes to protect their environmental rights can obtain the necessary information on the legal mechanisms and direct assistance in the preparation of documents.

8. Ростов – город будущего (Rostov - City of the Future)

Rostov - City of the Future guides people towards a more environmentally friendly lifestyle by helping them collect and separate waste properly. Every month the organization runs campaigns to promote waste collection and separation.


9. Beat Food for Progress

Beat Food for Progress created the Bean Paste Beat made from 100% organic beans. The new plant-based ingredient was created to power a high impact green protein switch. Beat helps you transition from lots of meat and a little beans to... lots of beans and a little meat. Without leaving a bean taste or look, it can be used as a supplement of meat replacement in popular dishes such as hamburgers, meatballs, meat sauce, soups, sauces and gratins or even in the dough pizza, bread and cookies. Beat Food For Progress wishes to stimulate health and play a role in guaranteeing food security for a growing world population.

10. BeeUrban

Pollinating insects are crucial for human survival. Every third bite we eat is pollinated by a bee. Bee Urban offers interactive environment services in urban areas in the shape of beehives, gardens for biodiversity and habitat for pollinating insects and birds. Bee Urban targets companies, municipalities and other organizations that want to improve their environmental performance and their environmental profile in a concrete, interactive and innovative way. Bee Urban develops services to inform and disseminate knowledge about bees and biodiversity and how it is an integral part of sustainable urban development and human well-being.

11. Boodla

Boodla builds ecological house gardens and school gardens as a way to create a sustainable future, both socially and environmentally. Our gardens are something between a vegetable garden and a playground. The aim is to help people to co-create their surroundings and get to know each other while they grow their own vegetables, hence creating ecological and social value.

12. Kindness food

Kindness Food wishes to promote a healthy, green lifestyle via their website and presentations. Kindness Food develops knowledge on organic food health. The company defines KindnessFood as fair food that is kind to your body, mind, the environment and all animals.

13. Live Green

Live Green Production has built a community of environmentally committed enthusiasts, produced five green music festivals and fashion shows, organized youth parliaments in the countryside and horror theater in the suburbs, educated young leaders and changemakers and created several businesses working on social impact.

14. Plantagon

Plantagon International is the global innovation leader in the sector urban agriculture. Plantagon's resilient food systems minimize the need for land, water, energy and pesticides. The environmental impact is very low, and if the products are delivered directly to consumers in the city, the transportation costs are also minimized. Plantagon develops innovative solutions to meet the rising demand for locally grown food in cities all around the world. We minimize the use of transportation, land, energy and water – using waste products in the process but leaving no waste behind.

15. Re:wake design

Re:wake design is a jewellery brand that transforms used paper into colorful, one of a kind jewellery. Women from underserved communities in Kenya individually craft each piece, so that they may create individual savings and realize their entrepreneurial aspirations. Re:wake design empowers women from impoverished areas so that they not only become economically independent, but contribute to their communities, too. This is achieved by helping them acquire skills, providing them with economic opportunity, and assisting them in establishing their businesses. "Wanawake" means "woman" in Swahili. The name Re:wake Design represents the reawakening of dreams within women.


16. Food Cycle

FoodCycle is a national charity that combines volunteers, surplus food and spare kitchen spaces to create tasty, nutritious meals for people at risk of food poverty and social isolation. Food Cycle runs over 24 projects across the UK, united by the simple idea that food waste and food poverty should not coexist.

17. Worn Again

Worn Again started in 2005 with creating footwear made from recycled materials and has continuously sought out bigger, better solutions to the challenges of textile waste. From recycling Worn Again evolved to upcycling corporate textiles, turning waste materials like end of use uniforms into fashion products. Currently Worn Again is in development of an innovative fibre to fibre recycling technology for clothing and apparel with the aim of returning recaptured raw materials back into the clothing supply chain as new.