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:

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:

Fruitful SEFORÏS consortium meeting at Aston University (video)

SEFORÏS team at Aston Business School

SEFORÏS team at Aston Business School

Together the SEFORÏS consortium members are nearly finished with the survey of over 1.000 directors of social enterprises in Russia, China and Europe. The meeting at Aston University was an important to compare notes on this massive data collection on the role and behaviour of social enterprises. SEFORÏS wants to ensure the high quality of the data that allows for meaningful analysis in countries and between the several countries. In the spring of 2016 SEFORÏS will publish reports with first indicators on the field of social entrepreneurship within each of the participating countries: China, Germany, Hungary, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Respective country teams also presented their academic work based on the conducted case studies earlier in the project and together they explored the opportunities for cross-country analysis of cases. Professor Ute Stephan, principal investigator and member of the Academic Advisory Board of SEFORÏS, kindly summarised the present status of the research at the end of the meeting: