Pocket-sized online maths teacher, cool fashion collection sporting Roma designs, unique gift artefacts created by persons living in deep poverty, a guest house and café employing persons with disabilities— all these social business ideas were selected to the Erste SEEDS program with the aim of supporting and scaling up social organisations in Hungary.
Out of more than 200 applications, 68 applicants were selected to enter the 18-month incubation programme to launch or grow their social business initiative. The involved social enterprises/organisations will receive a customized business training, organisational development support and expert mentoring. The most promising enterprises can receive “seed grants”, pitch to impact investors or ask for bank loans while being supported by mentors. The operational program will start in May 2017, the opening event and announcement of participants took place on the 21 April.
Startup social enterprises, or those thinking to establish one, often face the problem that even though their idea or activity is good and beneficial for the community, they have no experience in how to establish, operate, and develop such a business venture. Established to tackle those problems and help social businesses get past the initial obstacles, Erste SEEDS Program has invited the first applications in Hungary this year. Ultimately, 68 applicants have been selected, including Nem Adom Fel Alapítvány [I Won’t Give Up Foundation], Budapest Bike Maffia, Kockacsoki Nonprofit Kft. [Cube Chocolate Non-profit LLC], Magyar Élelmiszerbank Egyesület [Hungarian Food Bank Society], Kultúrgorilla [Culture Gorilla], and Re-Cikli Műhely [Re-Cycle Workshop].
The selected participants will be given extensive support services and high quality know-how transfer such as training ranging from business planning to leadership skills, consulting by experienced social business developers, mentoring by experts from business, social and public sector, networking and group work, access to financial institutions and impact investors and PR and communication support in CEE region and on EU level. The most promising and most committed organisations may receive up to EUR 240,000 in form of “Seed grants” provided by ERSTE Stiftung to support testing the most promising prototypes and help the start-up or growth of new social enterprises. At the end of the program the nest enterprises will have the chance to hold a presentation for Hungarian and international social business investors.
“According to our experience, it is hard for startup social businesses using their own funds only to reach a level of readiness where the only thing missing from further development is money. SEEDS was created upon that realisation with the aim of propelling viable social business initiatives to a point where money is really the only thing that’s lacking. Business that manage to reach that plateau will be given an impetus through an initial amount provided by the program,” says János Czafrangó, director of Social Banking Development and Management at Erste Bank.
The programme is a common initiative of the Social Banking Development department of Erste Group, ERSTE Stiftung and Erste Bank Hungary. Experienced implementation partners are IFUA Nonprofit Partner and SIMPACT. Members of the Advisory Board are important stakeholders of the social economy sector in Hungary. This project has received financial support from the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation “EaSI”.
“Being an entrepreneur is not an easy job and becoming a social entrepreneur is an even more challenging task, especially for non-profit social organisations. This is the reason why we teamed up with experienced and trusted partners to develop the SEEDS support program designed for transformation of social organisations towards more sustainable business models. At Erste we believe in empowering people and organisations in their efforts to make their lives better and their societies more prosperous. With our Social Banking programme, we offer practical solutions that will make a direct impact in the lives of those people in our region who have been left behind,” said Peter Surek, head of Social Banking Development at Erste Group.
“At ERSTE Foundation, we are conscious of the great challenges civil society organisations in Central Europe are facing today. A sustainable economic development is a critical factor for the independence and effectiveness of non-profit organisations. Together we have been able to establish a programme that enables those which until now were relying on donations or short-term public contracts, to broaden their income base. By developing social enterprise activities they can build long-term stability for their services”, explains Franz Karl Prüller, Senior Adviser to the Board of ERSTE Foundation. “This project makes an important contribution to a steady and stable development of the social sector of civil society in Hungary.”
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