This blog is the final part of a four-part series for the Microsoft Global Social Entrepreneurship Progam, a sub-programme from Microsoft for Startups, which Impact Hub Berlin supports as a Community Partner. You can read parts one, two and three here (in German).
As an Impact Hub, enabling social entrepreneurs is in our DNA.
In 2019, we helped 60+ early-stage social enterprises to develop their activities through our dedicated incubation and acceleration programmes.
It’s another long-held Impact Hub belief that to enable impact at scale, working with unlikely allies is a key component. This is why – as a Community Partner of the Microsoft Global Social Entrepreneurship Program – we’ve been utilising our local and global network to connect promising social startups with Microsoft’s extensive support package.
To dive deeper into the nature of corporate relationships with social enterprises, our Co-Founder, Nele Kapretz joined Robert Heinecke, Founder and CEO of Breeze Technologies and a recipient of Microsoft’s support, at a virtual event, Microsoft ENABLE Social Entrepreneurship.
Jetzt #LIVE: @msft4startupsEU, @ImpactHubBLN und @projectbreeze über #SocialEntrepreneurship: "Now it´s time for everyone to act in order to maintain a planet that is liveable for everyone." 🌱🌎 @heinecke #MicrosoftENABLE pic.twitter.com/cWf0O72WPZ— Microsoft Berlin (@MicrosoftBerlin) June 25, 2020
Viewers tuned in from Germany to India, Ireland to the US to listen along and ask questions, before finishing up at virtual networking tables with the on-hand experts.
Putting your money where your mouth is
Unsurprisingly, funding and finance were identified as pain points early on. In this area, Microsoft offers up to $120,000 in free software to social enterprises, as well as access to Microsoft Philanthropies grants. Support of this kind has enabled social startups like Breeze Technologies, who have scaled their air quality monitoring programme throughout the city of Hamburg.
It was agreed that more must be done both in Europe and beyond to better connect social entrepreneurs with much-needed funds.
Supporting under-represented founders
Audience members were also keen to learn about what support companies are offering specifically to female and other under-represented entrepreneurs.
♀️ Nele answers a question from the audience about supporting female entrepreneurs:— Impact Hub Berlin (@ImpactHubBLN) June 25, 2020
There are ever more programmes out there. Check out some that #ImpactHub Berlin has been involved in over the years: @FLANE_VFI, @womenaco's #Womentum etc. #MicrosoftEnable @MicrosoftBerlin
Creating better opportunities for female founders has been something that both we and Microsoft for Startups have been working to improve. We learned in this year’s German Social Entrepreneurship Monitor that with women founding 46% of Germany’s social enterprises, this is one key area in which the business world in general can learn from the world of impact entrepreneurship.
Tools for the digital age
The value of having the right digital tools (and the competence to use them effectively) has become ever more apparent since the COVID-19 outbreak caused businesses worldwide to resort to remote work.
Microsoft has been among the companies quick to respond to the crisis, supporting blockchain-based supply chain innovations like Skuchain, for example, while at Impact Hub Berlin we’ve also been busy with our government-backed #WirVsVirus initiative to tackle the fallout from the pandemic.
Even the platform the event was hosted on, Airmeet, was highlighted as an example of an innovative digital solution to the ‘new normal’ of dispersed teams.
After the panel conversation wrapped up, audience members joined them at the virtual networking tables, to discuss more topics such as community, sustainability and tech for good. We hope they left feeling connected, enabled and inspired to continue building the solutions of the future.
Those interested in applying for the programme can find all information on the Microsoft Global Social Entrepreneurship Program website.
Want to learn more about becoming an Impact Hub Berlin Community Partner? Get in touch via [email protected].