25 08, 2016

SEF interviews. 1000 Worms.

By |Thursday, August 25, 2016|Categories: SEF interviews|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Drumroll for David Witzeneder, who tells us about 1000 Worms.

Describe yourself in 3 words.
Passionate, calm and hard-working.

What problem do you solve?
When I came to Vienna to study I was upset that I had to dispose organic waste into the rubbish bin with all the other residual waste. There was no organic waste disposal system. This was not only my problem. Many other people told me that it feels bad to dispose organic waste, which is actually a resource we can use, together with the other residual waste. What we do now is to offer a solution for this problem.

How does your business model work?
We developed boxes made of wood. So called wormbox or “wurmkiste”. In the boxes live earthworms. Earthworms love organic waste and 1000 Worms eat approximately the amount of organic waste one person produces every day and they process it to fertile humus. We construct the wormboxes in our small workshop as ready-to-use boxes, do-it-yourself sets or make them together with participants in our monthly workshops in Vienna. As well we sell a very efficient wormbin called “hungry bin” for outdoor use.

What is social entrepreneurship to you? And what is it not?
To be able to fall asleep easily at night because everything you did on this day was in line with your personal and social values. Selling crap to your customers or treating your employees bad would result in bad sleep. At least for me.

What are the toughest challenges you have to face by running a social business?
To treat yourself as well in a social way. Working 60 hours per week, answering emails on Sunday and being present at every event even if you are not interested are the toughest challenges I have faced or that I am still facing.

What is your vision for Social Entrepreneurship in Austria?
Once a businessman came to me and told me he has some contacts to an Indian factory. “You could let them produce the boxes produce and sell it for 1/4 of the actual price”. That was his idea.
My vision for social entrepreneurship in Austria is, that it can contribute to a greater awareness that business is not only about money and cheaper production but about creating value to customers (solutions to problems) and employees (purpose and financial safety) alike. So I hope in the future there will be fewer business people thinking like that.

A little piece of advice for social entrepreneurs to be?
Don’t believe everything they tell you 🙂

If you could put up a huge billboard anywhere – what would it say?
1000 Worms can eat your daily organic waste.

David is co-founder of 1000 Worms (formerly Wurmkiste). More information can be found on their website: https://www.1000worms.com

21 08, 2016

SEF introduces. Franziska.

By |Sunday, August 21, 2016|Categories: SEF introduces|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Meet the SEF Team! Up today: Franziska Graf, aka Fran, who is responsible for brand building, visual content and communications. 

What are you doing right now? One sentence, short and sweet.
I am readjusting to Austria after having spent six months in Milan – so far I cut pasta consumption from 4 to 3 times a week. #proud

What are your summer plans?
Working, travelling and also actively taking some time for reflecting. Apart from that, highlights include friends, family and SEF, of course.

What is one random piece of information about you?
I often substitute lunch with gelato. Yes, that picture was taken during my lunch break.

How did you first become interested in social entrepreneurship?
I took a course at WU on the subject that gave me an introduction into the topic as well as the scene in Vienna. I quickly discovered some pretty awesome people with a shared spirit, that made me want to expand my knowledge and get involved.

What is your motivation behind SEF?
For me, SEF is about making change happen and creating a platform for dialogue. My vision is to see SEF become a movement across universities and countries.

How do you envision yourself and social entrepreneurship in the future?
I definitely see social entrepreneurship intertwined with my future, but to be honest I am still figuring out how, with a different idea in my head every day. What I do know is that I want to see purpose in the work I do and further explore how social entrepreneurship can be introduced in already existing businesses.

What’s on your bookshelf at the moment?
I am currently reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera and my Lonely Planet about Turkey. 

One piece of advice to business students?
It’s very easy to be pressured into expectations on where and how business students should work, driven by money and career perspectives. We need people that question the status quo and that want to shape a bright future. Use your time as much as possible to explore what really suits your talents. Talk to people. And think big. 

Find Fran on LinkedIn or contact her at franziska@socialentrepreneurship.org.


14 08, 2016

SEF introduces. Marc.

By |Sunday, August 14, 2016|Categories: SEF introduces|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Up today on our Sunday interview is Marc Trebitsch, SEF Ambassador, whose exact role at SEF is still written in the stars. 

What are you doing right now? One sentence, short and sweet.
Currently I am enrolled as a business student at WU and am busy collecting research to finally finish my bachelor studies.

What are your summer plans?
I am spending all summer in beautiful Oregon, visiting my even more gorgeous girlfriend, enjoying the US lifestyle and assisting her dad in business and miscellaneous affairs.

What is one random piece of information about you?
I like to directly translate German to English and weird people out by doing so:
Dude you hang me out so much, but still, can I build me in on your sandwich?

How did you first become interested in social entrepreneurship?
Mostly through my friend Goran Maric, who sharpened my awareness for SEF and invited me to SEF rises, but also through all kinds of people around me telling me that I was too “nice” for business when I complained about common (mal)practices in the outside world.

What is your motivation behind SEF?
I want to raise awareness for social and solidary causes in our society and demonstrate to the business world that there is more to pursue in life than just the plain and dull belief that (more) money alone will lead to happiness.

How do you envision yourself and social entrepreneurship in the future?
I want to accomplish actual change in the way we interact with each other and how we treat one another. SEF is a hub to propagate this change and inform as many people as possible that something is happening. I am still dreaming, but I am dreaming big.

What’s on your bookshelf at the moment?
Currently I am rereading “The Prince” by Niccolo Machiavelli, which will be followed by his Discourses. In order to keep my feet on the ground after this intense session I will read “The Motivation Manifesto” by Brandon Burchard.

One piece of advice to business students?
Step 1: So you are studying business and dreaming of big money, just like I did at some point during my business degree…so far so good. Step 2: Now go watch and truly understand relevant movies such as the Wolf of Wall Street and the Big Short. Step 3: Do everything in order to avoid becoming one of those greedy people who plunge the world into crisis with their striving for more and more profit.

Find Marc on LinkedIn or send him a message at marc@socialentrepreneurshipforum.org for questions and answers.

11 08, 2016

SEF interviews. Younited Cultures.

By |Thursday, August 11, 2016|Categories: SEF interviews|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Another interview, another social enterprise: Andra and Younited Cultures.

Describe yourself in 3 words.
Optimist, creative, fighter.

What problem do you solve?
Raising awareness towards the positive role of im/migrants for the society and economy.

As a migrant myself, I am disappointed to see how the negative image of migrants is being constantly promoted, yet, the positive side of migration is never really shown. I want to bring more awareness towards that. The press plays a big role in influencing society. Migration has been misrepresented for far too long. We need new ideas to show that migration is positive.

How does your business model work?
Storytelling scarves. Wear a story!

Together with the im-/migrant role models and through a creative process we transform their integration journey into unique scarf designs, that express their character, diversity and cultural heritage. In order to make our message impactful for everyone, we also created the “Celebrate Migration” signature scarf, which aims to become a symbol for cultural diversity. By wearing it, we make the positive image of migration visible, a topic rarely promoted and spoken about.

We sell these scarves/ stories as gifts online, via fairs, events, shops as well as companies. Additionally, we now offer a teambuilding workshop for companies to create their own signature scarf with their employees. We capture their story, vision and values and put them on a scarf that they or customers can receive on special occasions.

What is social entrepreneurship to you? And what is it not?
Creating value for society no matter your business, product or service. Overall, social entrepreneurship is not a charity activity. It’s creating value, purpose and impact by putting people before profits.

What are the toughest challenges you have to face by running a social business?
Finding state funds that concern social entrepreneurship, which are equal to none. We are registered as a GmbH (eng. company with limited liability) but act as NGO, which means that we reinvest the earnings to bring awareness towards our vision, to celebrate cultural diversity. And for that, there is no subsidy, because we are for-profit, but our focus is social.

It saddens me that all I hear about is tech funds, digital app funds, fast growth, fast job creation. There’s always money for that, but nothing for social entrepreneurship.

What is your vision for social entrepreneurship in Austria?
That all companies act more social. I hope it will become a standard form of doing business.

A little piece of advice for social entrepreneurs to be?
Network with other social entrepreneurs, learn from their experiences and be aware that, in order to make an impact, you also have to develop a sustainable business model. Don’t get dependent on external money (sponsors, etc.) but make sure you have a viable product that can sustain you long-term.

Andra is founder and CEO of Younited Cultures. For more information please visit http://younitedcultures.eu.

7 08, 2016

SEF introduces. Jana.

By |Sunday, August 7, 2016|Categories: SEF introduces|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Meet the SEF Team! Up today: Jana Christina Fälbl, who is responsible for Involvement, Event Coordination and Website Development.

What are you doing right now? One sentence, short and sweet.
Studying pedagogy and didactics to become a teacher next fall. #excited 😀

What is one random piece of information about you?
I would love to have a nickname, but my first name is too short, so nobody ever gave me one. I can recommend JC.

How did you first become interested in social entrepreneurship?
Through a class at WU called “Social Entrepreneurship” in early 2014, and especially through the introduction to the Impact Hub Vienna – a place where the social entrepreneurship spirit is simply in the air.

What is your motivation behind SEF?
For me, SEF is about the people. It helps me to meet those who strive for more than just to make a living. With SEF, I want to create a broad community of students and young professionals, who desire to make the world a better place by being creative innovators. Because of SEF I am allowed to work with people who inspire me everyday.

How do you envision yourself and social entrepreneurship in the future?
I have not yet decided, whether I want to become a social founder myself, or someone who is making change happen in a public sector organisation. What is certain, though, is that I want my work to be focused on fostering educational equality.

What’s on your bookshelf at the moment?
“Herausforderung Migration” (engl. the challenge migration) by Hans Winkler – a book on how we can manage the current challenges due to immigration.

One piece of advice to business students?
Whether business or not – use your skills wisely. Don’t only take your own career or profit goals into account, but think about how the work you (will) do affects others. We are facing challenging times of various conflicts and cultural, ethical, religious misunderstandings. This is why I truly believe that it is highly important to our society that we as a generation focus our efforts on collaboration instead of competition.

Find Jana on LinkedIn or contact her at jana@socialentrepreneurshipforum.org if you have any more questions.

31 07, 2016

SEF introduces. Silvana.

By |Sunday, July 31, 2016|Categories: SEF introduces|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Meet Silvana Lobin, SEF Ambassador of the first hour, so to speak, who moderated a SEF event and is keeping you updated with the review blogs of our events.

What are you doing right now? One sentence, short and sweet.
I just finished my Bachelor and am currently doing the editing and picture selection for a calendar published yearly by the NGO Society for Threatened People.

What is one random piece of information about you?
I collect funny and artsy postcards, that I buy in museums or find in pubs – I have over 300 of them and not nearly enough room on my wall 😀

How did you first become interested in social entrepreneurship?
For me the whole reason why I started studying business in the frist place was to try to find ways to make it more socially responsible. I first heard about social entrepreneurship in a class at university and then got really into it when I joined SEF because I thought – yes, that’s it, that’s how you can bring those two sides together.

What is your motivation behind SEF?
I want to contribute to spreading the concept of social entrepreneurship and the idea that a commitment to social issues and a good business sense are not mutually exclusive. I also love that I get to meet and learn from so many inspiring people. 

How do you envision yourself and social entrepreneurship in the future?
In a nutshell: I want to bring people together. I think one of the most intriguing and yet challenging aspects of social change is that it can’t be accomplished by just one person, but rather needs the combined creative energy of many people – people from different cultures, with different skills and their own unique set of experiences. And while we can usually agree on what the general issue is, when we go further into detail, it becomes clear that almost everyone has a slightly different idea on how to approach it. Everyone has an individual perspective, but in my mind that’s precisely what is necessary for social change. So I think it’s a lot about how we communicate with each other and whether we look at our differences as something that divides us, or as something that enriches our lives.

What’s on your bookshelf at the moment?
Bill Bryson – Down Under
Hannah Arendt – Nach Auschwitz
Isabel Allende – Das Geisterhaus
Stephen Hawking – A short history of time

One piece of advice to business students?
There is still this idea that in business, in order for someone to make a profit, someone else has to lose – which is a pretty depressing thought. So be reflective, talk to as many different people as you can, try to form your own opinion and don’t be afraid to think outside the box!

If you want to know more, find Silvana on LinkedIn or send her an email at silvana@socialentrepreneurshipforum.org.

24 07, 2016

SEF introduces. Tine.

By |Sunday, July 24, 2016|Categories: SEF introduces|Tags: , , |1 Comment

Second SEFster to be introduced is Christine Jama, aka Tine, responsible for our information platform, event coordination, and the numbers.

What are you doing right now? One sentence, short and sweet
Learning as much as possible about (social) entrepreneurship during my master in Copenhagen and doing an internship at the Social Entrepreneurship Akademie in Munich.

What is one random piece of information about you?
I have two different looking thumbs. And yes, you can have a look one day.

How did you first become interested in social entrepreneurship?
During my bachelor degree at WU when I took a course on Social Entrepreneurship – I finally found a name tag for this need of mine to do something with actual purpose.

What is your motivation behind SEF?
I would love for as many people as possible to get in touch with the concept of social entrepreneurship to realise that there are so many possibilities out there to do good while doing business. Creating positive impact should be the norm rather than a movement. So let’s make the movement normality!

How do you envision yourself in the world of social entrepreneurship in the future?
An initiator that empowers and inspires others to question the status quo and create actual value and positive impact for our society and planet earth.

What’s on your bookshelf at the moment?
Because I always want to do 1,244 things at the same time and can’t seem to fit them all into my schedule, I currently have 6 books on my shelf that I have started and not finished yet:

Glücksökonomie (The Economy of Happiness) – Annette Jensen, Ute Scheub
The Longest Way – Christoph Rehage
The Blue Sweater – Jacqueline Novogratz
Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahnemann
Tiere Essen (Eating Animals) – Jonathan Safran Foer
Der kleine Prinz (The Little Prinz) – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

One piece of advice to business students?
Dare to question the status quo especially with regards to our economic system. It’s not just a bunch of hippies, as some people would dismissively describe those that are advocating alternative options. It’s a time for re-thinking. It’s people who dare to question the status quo in every aspect, even if it means that the truth they find is uncomfortable. Change takes a lot of work but less of it when we pull together on the same string .

You have more questions for Tine? You can find her on LinkedIn or contact her at christine@socialentrepreneurshipforum.org.

17 07, 2016

SEF introduces. Stefan.

By |Sunday, July 17, 2016|Categories: SEF introduces|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Welcome to our summer feature, dear SEFsters: SEF introduces, a set of interviews with the people behind SEF. Why? Because we want to give you an insight into our team, tell you what we are doing during the summer and simply explain why we love SEF.

So, here we go. First up is Stefan Steinberger,  SEF Ambassdor, who already moderated a SEF event and is responsible for the on-boarding process of future Ambassadors.

What are you doing right now? One sentence, short and sweet.
I am teaching kids between 10 and 15 from low-income communities at a school in Vienna.

What are your summer plans?
I will try to pursue some of my own little projects as during the school year I did not have time for something else than school work. For example, I try to build a bridge between corporates and schools as many apprenticeships stay vacant whereas on the other side many young people are searching for a job. And yes, I actually cheated a bit with the “summer plans” picture above – it was during Easter. 

What is one random piece of information about you?
I don’t like to spend money – that’s why I prefer to pay with card 😉

How did you first become interested in social entrepreneurship?
I always liked doing good and helping other people. After my internship in consulting I started to think about how to be independent and be my own boss, which led me towards startups. I then combined doing good with startups and discovered social entrepreneurship.

What is your motivation behind SEF?
For me SEF is all about the people. I like to work with likeminds, who are hands on, thinking positively and also want to make the world a better place. It is also a chance to learn from and with others, to develop yourself and try out some things you never did before (e.g. write a blog, host an event, etc.).

How do you envision yourself and social entrepreneurship in the future?
No one is going to stand up at your funeral and say: “He had a really expensive car and great clothes.” I want to be a social entrepreneur myself and build something which lasts longer than I live.

What’s on your bookshelf at the moment?
At the moment I am finishing “Der große Kostolany: Börsenseminar. Börsenpsychologie. Die besten Geldgeschichten” by Andre Kostolany, stories about money.
Next to come is  “Schularbeit – Die Leiden eines Lehrers” by Frank Huss, about teachers’ work, and a book on the digital education revolution, “Die digitale Bildungsrevolution”, by Jörg Dräger.

One piece of advice to business students?
Be curious, open minded and talk to as many different people as you can – especially to those who you would not talk to at first sight because they seem too different or even strange to you. It will broaden your horizon!

Find Stefan on LinkedIn or send him a message at stefan@socialentrepreneurshipforum.org if you have any questions.

12 07, 2016

SEF interviews. Peter Vandor on Social Entrepreneurship Education.

By |Tuesday, July 12, 2016|Categories: SEF interviews|Tags: , , , |1 Comment

University is where most of us from the SEF Team first heard about social entrepreneurship. Hence, we are very thrilled to have Peter, a real pioneer on the field of social entrepreneurship education in Austria, answering our questions.

Why should social entrepreneurship be taught and which role do universities play here?
Social entrepreneurship education meets a rapidly growing demand among students. More and more students are seeking competences and classes on social entrepreneurship and related topics. They see that the world is not exactly running out of problems and wish to do something about it in an entrepreneurial way. In Austria, we see this interest every year at the Social Impact Award, where hundreds of students participate in workshops on social entrepreneurship and develop their own ideas and projects. At WU, such interest has also materialised in the start of student-led initiatives around social and sustainable entrepreneurship, such as 180 Degrees Consulting, oikos and SEF.

How early should we start teaching about social entrepreneurship?
From an educational standpoint, the earlier the better. Research suggests that experiencing pro-social behavior in your youth increases the likelihood of such behavior for the rest of your life. Being able to help others is a powerful experience and those who experience it early are probably more motivated and develop the self-efficacy to become successful social entrepreneurs later in their life.

What are the barriers, if any, when implementing a rather new field like social entrepreneurship into school/university education?
Social entrepreneurship education is a pretty new field, so many of its tools and concepts are still under development. Much of the current teaching borrows heavily from entrepreneurship. While that is often very useful, sometimes the entrepreneurship instruments and concepts do not fit the reality of social entrepreneurs and can be a barrier. For example, many financial instruments and concepts taught in entrepreneurship are heavily venture-capital- and exit-oriented. This is far from the reality of social entrepreneurs in Austria, where social venture capitalists hardly exist and only a fraction of social enterprises chose a legal form that would allow external investments. We should avoid copying concepts blindly, but adjust the teaching to the social realm, the ecosystem we are in and the actual needs of people.

Which tools do you provide your students with?
In our courses, we first provide a brief theoretical background on social entrepreneurship and try to carve out similarities and differences between social entrepreneurship, commercial entrepreneurship as well as traditional third-sector organisations. The larger part of the semester is then focused on experiential learning. Students either work on their own idea for a social enterprise or work with other social entrepreneurs on their challenges.

Which advice do you give your students?
Try it out for yourself! The best way to learn about social entrepreneurship is by getting involved in social enterprises or starting your own social venture. For the later, I founded the Social Impact Award in 2009, which offers free start-up workshops for young social entrepreneurs in 10 countries and is operated in partnership with the Impact Hub Vienna. During these workshops, students from all disciplines can meet peers, develop a new idea for a social venture, improve and structure it and get expert feedback.

What is your vision for the future of social entrepreneurship (education)?
10 years ago, the coolest thing to do for a WU student was to become an investment banker or a consultant. This changed. Currently, entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs seem to be the rockstars on campus. It is likely that this hype will eventually fade a bit, but in terms of substance, I think, the best is still to come. Since we started the first course on social entrepreneurship in Austria in 2009, more universities have included the topic into their curriculum. Moreover, an ecosystem started to grow, including support organisations, co-working spaces, new funding instruments and an increased number of social enterprises. Since 2015, also public institutions have launched funding instruments for social entrepreneurs. The recent announcement of the government to reduce labor costs for start-ups could provide further positive impulses for social enterprises – but of course only, if they are included in the target groups of the proposed measures. I am curious to see the next steps and am optimistic about the development of this sector.

Peter Vandor is senior researcher, co-founder and manager of the NPO & SE Competence Center at WU, the Vienna University of Economics and Business. In his position, he has been leading 50+ collaboration projects with organisations such as CERN, UNDP and the Roland Berger Foundation. His research interests lie in the areas of social entrepreneurship, migrant entrepreneurship and innovation. Peter is founder and academic director of the Social Impact Award, a learning program and idea competition for budding social entrepreneurs in 10 countries. He also initiated the first academic and award winning course on social entrepreneurship in Austria.

24 06, 2016

SEF inspires. How to not Change the World or Why Doing Good is not Good Enough.

By |Friday, June 24, 2016|Categories: SEF inspires|Tags: , , , , |1 Comment

The reason you started reading this blog article is probably because you have an interest in social entrepreneurship, social change and the like. Maybe you even set it as your career goal to work in the field, address a social or environmental problem and bring about change. Maybe you are already doing it. Or maybe you are even a critic of the work of social entrepreneurs. This article is for all of you. Because let’s face it – every concept has its shortcomings – even the work of social entrepreneurs. Nobody is perfect applies to almost anything, not just on a personal level: economic systems, politics and of course business practices. The only exception probably being the new single of Mumford & Sons which is as close to perfect as it gets, but that’s a whole different story.

I highly believe in the strong potential that lies within social entrepreneurship, within tackling nowadays challenges with innovative approaches and business models. We are faced with complex problems that require us to engage in innovation processes and new ways of thinking. By doing business differently i.e. acting more responsibly with regards to social and environmental aspects, we can change the system inside out. I am a strong believer that we, as individuals, have more power in us than one might believe – that we can impact a great deal with our own, seemingly small, actions. We have the ability to create whole new ways of thinking and doing business. We can contribute to a society that prefers collaboration over competition, common welfare over money, trust over control, and people over profits.

However, social entrepreneurship practices are not always perfect – they don’t always run as smoothly and are not as world-changing as one might hope for them to be. We have to be realistic when evaluating the work of social entrepreneurs – their good intentions are not enough to solve the problems at hand. It is the result of a social business’ activities that counts the most. If you haven’t watched the movie Poverty Inc. yet, do it now. It provides you with a shocking insight in the industry of NGOs and self-appointed social entrepreneurs. There are many examples of NGOs and social businesses that have made the problems they are trying to solve actually worse or have created other problems through their intervention. This blog post is neither to judge those organisations nor to point any fingers or support any conspiracy theories revolving around the charity industry.

It is much more a wake-up call, an insight and a call to action for (social) entrepreneurs to reconsider their business practices and take their whole supply chains into consideration – with all the consequences that come with it. It is on the one hand about realising that some of our old practices don’t work anymore, that we need to re-think and re-build our business models. On the other hand it is about evaluating the work that you do and the impact that you have. How Albert Einstein nicely put it: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

So let’s stop being insane and engage in more effective ways to come up with sustainable solutions that will once and for all eradicate the most pressing problems of our society today. Common sense as well as research suggest to go about this whole thing differently; rather than creating solutions FOR, we should create them WITH our target group by taking their environment, culture, economy, social ties, behaviours (the list goes on) into consideration. The design thinking process is a viable tool for coming up with new business models. It puts the human component in the center of its approach, meaning that the solution you will create is first and foremost desirable by your target segment before taking other factors like feasibility and financial rewards into account. It does not mean that the business model cannot be viable just because the product is desired – it means that we have to build on what is desirable and adapt the business model accordingly. I know – easier said than done.

In a second step, it is important to track your impact so you don’t end up like one of the many organisations shown in Poverty Inc.; publicly shamed and criticized for their (unintended) strains they put on the environment and/or their target groups.  This is why social impact measurement is not just a buzzword, but a powerful and inevitable tool for every social entrepreneur and NGO – it’s a thing. The first and foremost goal of a social business is tackling a social/environmental issue rather than solely making a profit. Now imagine you have a social business that doesn’t meet its aim of alleviating the problem at hand but much rather making it worse. Wouldn’t that take away the whole legitimacy of the business’ existence?

It’s time to make a shift – a shift towards a more effective way of tackling nowadays challenges, a shift towards sanity. It’s not enough to develop products and services that we think will help solve the challenge at hand and hope for the best. It’s not enough to give a fish. It’s not even enough to teach how to fish. Time for disruption of the fish industry and measuring our progress along the way.

For more information see: