In the coming six months, SEFORÏS will survey a 1000 social enterprises across Europe, Russia and China. No small feat that has been prepared very thoroughly by all team members of the SEFORÏS consortium. The preparation culminated in the training in Brussels of 18 team members who will start contacting the social entrepreneurs in the 9 countries that are included in the research.
China, Germany, Hungary, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom are the 9 countries that have been included in the SEFORÏS large-scale survey program. Critical to the success of the survey is integrating the issue of context of each country - 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.
An intensive week in Brussels
Since it is so critical to include the local context in which social entrepreneurs operate in the survey in a meaningful way, it was important to organize a training week for the team performing the survey in the 9 countries. They will exchange experiences as the survey work progresses. They especially need to carefully gauge the deeper sense of all the questions put to the social entrepreneurs, so nothing is lost in translation, or worse, results become incomparable. Another puprose of the training was to make it possible for the surveyors to familiarise themselves with the software and database tools they will work with.
Onward, to high quality data
Austin Dempewolff, coordinator of the survey for NPI, gave some insight into the the promise but also the challenges for their work in China. "It's very exciting to be able to start the actual survey after an intense preparation that has taken up to 3 months", tells Austin Dempewolff. "I believe the survey will yield very high quality data. All the more exciting is the fact that for China this will be the first large-scale academic research into the phenomenon of social entrepreneurship. The term and concept 'social entrepreneur' has a very broad meaning in China: it can mean anyone that starts up an initiative with a social goal, not just those that actually run an enterprise or company. That is where part of the challenge lies for our part of the SEFORÏS survey."
What's so special about Social Entrepreneurs, anyway?
"Social entrepreneurship has a long tradition in our country. At the same time there seems to be a new wave of social enterpreneurship", says Christine Alamaa of SITE in Sweden. Sweden, known as an inclusive society and famous, even, for its social policies. What makes the role of social entrepreneurs still relevant there?. "What's interesting to me about social entrepreneurs in my country is that it is one thing to be able to identify a problem or void in society and have feelings about what things should be like, it is quite another to actually be able to translate that into action, and 'Do something about it' so to speak. That is what sets social entrepreneurs apart in a significant way and why I look foward to speaking to so many of them in the forthcoming months. "
A healthy dose of oxygen
The training week was an effort led by SEFORÏS consortium member Oksigen Lab: Dr. Marieke Huysentruyt, Ira Lardinois and Anna Kint gave the training sessions. They deserve recognition for a job well done. Thank you!
See more photos of the training week in Brussels, here.