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Together we can shape the social business sector

Social entrepreneurship is hot. Although a social entrepreneurship to change processes has been adopted by a variety of organisations in Cambodia, the Dutch social enterprise sector is still rather young. The emerging sector in the Netherlands is seeking expertise on how to develop, transform into or manage a healthy social enterprise. The E-Motive exchange for social entrepreneurs from Cambodia and the Netherlands provided an inspiring ground for learning for Dutch social entrepreneurs.

How do we jointly learn about social entrepreneurship?

The professional discipline of social entrepreneurship is quite young and although there are internationally some forums for exchange, there are not many low cost exchange opportunities for young practicing social entrepreneurs, while that is actually ‘where the action is’ and where innovation quite often takes place. Key learning areas are how to facilitate a social enterprise sector, and how to develop or transform into and manage a healthy social enterprise. A social entrepreneurship approach to change processes is well developed in, among others, Cambodia. SmallWorld and Friends International are two Cambodian organisations which have adopted and well developed a social enterprise approach, both in very diverse ways.

Together we can shape the social business sector

Social enterprises can take many forms, ranging from ‘hybrid models’ in which social entrepreneurship is adopted as one of the various strategies towards social change; to a full fletched social enterprise that manages to pursue social change in a financially sustainable way; and enterprises that are rather business-minded, but are able to integrate their social objective in their work. In the Netherlands, various NGOs have adopted a social entrepreneurial approach; businesses have embedded some social objectives in their work (may be for marketing purposes); and social entrepreneurs have risen. Due to the exchange, knowledge brokerage and joint learning are fostered and room for collaboration and coordination is created. More practically, Context and Move have learnt how to stimulate the emergence of a social enterprise sector, how to position an organisation or business on the continuum from business to charity, and how to take into account contextual factors in developing and managing a healthy social enterprise. These lessons learnt can be used both at conceptual and at practical level, contributing to the organisational capacity of the participating organisations.

Dutch social entrepreneurs in Cambodia: the exchange itself

Five social entrepreneurs from Context and Move have visited their Cambodian counterparts from SmallWorld and Friends International in August 2014. During a 10-day exchange, the Dutch entrepreneurs have learnt a great deal due to organisational visits, inspiration sessions with their counterparts, field visits and a jointly organised masterclass. The exchange proved to be very fruitful. From eye-openers about a possible organisational form for the Move Foundation, to insights in a ‘social solidarity economy’ for Context, and useful methodological input for SmallWorld thanks to Move and its wonderful ‘Move methodology’: all participants went home as inspired social entrepreneurs, enjoying the afterglow of an overflow of rich experiences and learnings.


Watch here the Prezi-Timeline of the exchange: