2011 will without a doubt be remembered as one of the most difficult years globally, not only in terms of financial tribulations that global markets have experienced in the past 12 months, but even more for the terrible social problems that have grown exponentially.
Inequality, poverty and youth unemployment and unaccountability in the face of the crisis have reached dangerous peaks in countries that as of yet appear unready to provide solutions.
Whilst traditional medias have provided a narrative portraying the negative and destructive aspects of the transformation (I object to calling it crisis) other trends apparent in the last 12 months provide opportunities to look positively to the future.
In my inaugural post I would like to list some of the most important trends related to social innovation in 2011 in Europe.
The growth of commitment of big corporation in Social Innovation activities.
While big corporations are in the eye of main protests in Developed Countries, some of them have decided to commit themselves to efficient and interesting social innovation activities. To quote some, in February JP Morgan has invested more than 2.5 million of pounds in Bridge Venture, pioneer social venture capital fund based in UK. Dell has launched successfully its new Social Innovation Competition, while Deloitte has introduced social innovation topics more structurally in its business activities. The year ahead will be interesting for our understanding of the outcomes of those activities.
The growth of crowd-funding platforms for social initiatives in Europe.
2011 has been surely the consecration of Kiva, the most famous crowd-funding platform for social change. Moreover a lot of new platform have become popular, especially in Europe that historically is underdeveloped compared to US regarding the sector.
Indeed platform such as BuzzBank, BabyLoan.com in France or Betterplance.com in Germany have faced an interesting growth. Also Italy has seen the born of interesting actors in the field, such as Shinynotes.com.
The trend seems just at the beginning of its growth, peer to peer funding is expected to become even more popular in the near future.
The growth of non capital support for social entrepreneurs .
While social innovation sector has been principally complaining about the lack of capital available, I have personally been convinced that one of the main problems has always been the lack of projects ready to receive the claimed investment. Therefore the need to create a generation of social entrepreneurs able to satisfy the requests of investors becomes a principal priority and a challenge for the sector. The number of initiatives in support of social entrepreneurs have growth exponentially all over Europe with an obvious concentration in UK.
The Europe Social Business Initiative.
While European Union is facing the most difficult moment since it was born, very interesting steps have been taken to ensure the growth of the social enterprise and social investment/impact investing sector along the old continent. Indeed last November the Commission has launched officially an initiative aimed to the creation of a favorable environment for the development of social business in Europe, and of the social economy at large.
The provisional text of the Commission’s communication to the European Parliament on Social Business can be viewed here: Social Business document
Social Stock Exchange : from buzzing to facts.
The need to create a regulated market place for social entrepreneurs has been one of the main topics in the headlines of the social innovation debates of the past 4 years. Thanks to the Big Society Capital The Social Stock Exchange, which will use its £850,000 investment, will set up the world’s first stock exchange for social enterprises, to be located in London and improve access to capital for social entrepreneurs.
Hopefully the British experiment will prove to be a boost for the birth of similar projects around Europe.