The questions I would ask social entrepreneurs before I start working with them [Based on the BASET Project]
Following the publications on our blog in the BASET project’s site - www.baset.info, let me share as a mentor and management consultant, what questions I would ask social entrepreneurs at my first meeting with them. The proposed questions neither exhaust all possibilities, nor claim universality. Any one of us - mentors and consultants - could ask more or less the questions below, depending on their own experience and concrete case.
Nevertheless, I believe that at the very beginning of starting my work with my client – the social entrepreneur, I have to sketch a general picture of the business idea and to understand the profile of the owner of it.
Questions to ask social entrepreneurs
So, let me describe these questions with more details:
1. The first question concerns the motivation of the person. I would be very keen to have an idea what his/her motivation is and why he/she would like to start his/her own business in the areas of tackling social challenges and problems. I will ask the entrepreneur whether he/she knows what the expected impact is and whether he/she will rely on sustainable decisions. What the vision and mission are and how they are described? What does lead the entrepreneur to the realization of this idea?
2. Secondly, it is commonly accepted that the inherited mentality of people is an important factor of their decisions to become entrepreneurs and to help other people. I would ask them to share with me whether in their family they have entrepreneurs or people who have led other people and managed projects, and if they have received tips and good examples from them? Or maybe they have been instructed or influenced by other leaders or concrete examples in a national or global context?
3. Next question concerns important competences. Does the entrepreneur know the social issues he or she will have to deal with as an entrepreneur and could he/she share with me what knowledge and competences still lack about this area, as well as for the economy and management of the company or the organization, which the entrepreneur plans to start-up or scale-up? Does the entrepreneur know well what difficulties and challenges await him on the way?
4. The 4th question concerns what skills the entrepreneur would be able to rely on, so the social venture is successful? Does he or she know what skills they lack for being successful social entrepreneurs??
5. Next, I would like to know whether the entrepreneur has personal experience in working with social projects and/ or with doing classic business? I will ask the entrepreneur about his or her experience in a social enterprise or in a network that supports social causes? Any information I will receive about the previous experience of the social entrepreneurs can be very supportive for me as a mentor and consultant?
6. My 6th question will be about empathy. I will be very interested to know what is the reason that the entrepreneur would like to be involved in solving social challenges. Whether this is philanthropy, social responsibility, the belief that everything is in our hands and this is their philosophy of life, or the understanding that every business is social when it is innovative, and that the social business model is more efficient in comparison with the classic ones, or this is a better approach of searching for justice, or for solving global problems, or all these things? Also, I would be very interested to understand if the entrepreneur is ready to achieve the goal, despite the anticipated difficulties and losses and he/she is ready to work hard towards reducing the risks of failure to a minimum?
7. The 7th question concerns the leadership and is one of the most important for me. I would be very curious to understand what the entrepreneur thinks about him/herself as a leader who can engage other people in solving the tasks and achieving social impact? What qualities are needed and are useful to become a business leader as well? Does the difference between the two types of leadership is known?
8. Next question concerns the integrity. Whether the entrepreneur knows the moral and ethical norms of doing business in regard to users, investors, customers, beneficiaries, competitors, suppliers, consultants, etc.? Is the entrepreneur ready to give up of the ideas and goals for achieving financial and social impact, if this overrides the norms?
9. The 9th question is about what is the social intelligence of the entrepreneur I would be engaged to work for. Can the entrepreneur find stakeholders, supporters, partners and/ or a network of contacts that support their mission and intend to achieve specific social effects? How does he/she plan to include them in their initiative / project / enterprise to increase their chances of success?
10. And finally, the 10th and may be the most important question concerns the business model. Does my trainee or mentee have an initial idea of how he/she will create and sell something useful to the users, and how the target group will benefit? I would like to receive simple answers to the questions: who, why, what, how, to whom, and where? Can my mentee develop a more detailed operational business plan and do they know where they would seek some help?
This package of questions may look quite large but form my experience any professional mentor, coach, consultant, or trainer can succeed of collecting all those answers within 30 minutes. The professionals can also use ready questionnaires that are included in our SEDM model and are posted in the site as self-evaluation questionnaires https://www.baset.info/for-social-entrepreneurs.html .
After making this preliminary picture of the business idea and the profile of the social entrepreneur, we can proceed with creating an individual plan for working with him or her.
Knowledge, Innovation and Strategies Management Club (KISMC)
Many SMEs realize the need of investing in young talent and have started to recognize the benefits. However, attracting new talent has its challenges and realizing what support is out there to assist this process and make it more appealing for SMEs to implement these practices requires better awareness of the existing materials, know-how and support. Moreover, this type of investment starts early, with partnerships and activities at school and universities.
Apart from the direct benefits for companies, there is also a broader spectrum of advantages for the society, such as increased employability and employment of young people, work experience opportunities, development of a pool of skilled workers at regional level, social inclusion of vulnerable groups, economic returns like reduction of public expenditure etc.
Furthermore, SMEs providing WBL and apprenticeship programmes experience variety of advantages, ranging from financial to soft benefits on both short and long term, such as higher productivity, reduction of external recruitment, high motivated and talented personnel, enhanced corporate image, staff retention, opportunity to fill skill gaps etc.
There are various factors and elements of the education system across the EU but a unified approach and frameworks have been developed in order to enhance the role of work-based learning in its different forms and apprenticeships in particular to make them an effective tool for SMEs to solve the issue with lack of skills and talent, from one side. On the other hand, they are growth and success factors for businesses as well as key drivers for success for SMEs.
Implementing a holistic approach and system for apprenticeships allows SMEs to become more competitive and attract the right set of skills, knowledge and competences for growth and innovation as key competitive advantages in today’s economy and competitive markets.
According to the research and surveys as well as the conducted focus groups of the project “Return on Investment of Work Based learning and apprenticeships”, co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union, SMEs' decision to engage in the supply of WBL and apprenticeship training is determined by the cost-benefit ratio of such an investment.
Knowledge, Innovation and Strategies Management Club (KISMC) is a partner in the "Return on Investment of Work Based learning and apprenticeships" project (ROI), along with a diverse and complementary mix of organisations - from Slovakia the Technical University of Kosice (TUKE), 3 training organisations active in VET: IDEC - Greece, CECOA - Portugal, PIT - Spain and also from the UK - Social Value UK - a network focusing on social value and social impact, from Italy a network focusing on the promotion of digital learning and use of ICT - DLEARN and an ICT company focusing in ICT-enabled E&T - Cosmic Innovations - Cyprus.
Costs & Benefits
The following costs and benefits have been identified through the project partners' research based on focus groups and surveys among SMEs:
Calculation of RoI
The ROI project has been focusing on developing:
- A model for the calculation of RoI of WBL and apprenticeships by SMEs
- A digital tool that will demonstrate in visual way the RoI model
to calculate and visualise how investment on WBL and apprenticeships can manifest to multiple benefits.
To access the ROI calculation model and digital tool, please click here.
Did you know that SMEs represent 99% of all businesses in the EU? Or that statistics from the European Commission (EC) outline that in the past five years SMEs have created around 85% of new jobs and have provided two-thirds of the total private sector employment in the EU?
The availability of skilled labour is an important prerequisite to the SMEs’ prosperity, however, there is a mismatch between the skills the labour market demands and those that the education and training system provides. In order to tackle this mismatch, the EC has identified that quality work-based learning (WBL) and apprenticeships can be an efficient way of addressing labour market imbalances.
What is work-based learning?
“Acquisition of knowledge and skills through ‘carrying out – and reflecting on – tasks in a vocational context, either at the workplace (such as alternance training) or in a VET (vocational education and training) institution”.
What is apprenticeship?
“Systematic, long-term training alternating periods at the workplace and in an educational institution or training center. The apprentice is contractually linked to the employer and receives remuneration (wage or allowance). The employer assumes responsibility”.
In countries, where there is a well-established apprenticeship system, such as UK, Austria and Germany, SMEs contribute strongly to the training of the future work force through their involvement in work-based learning and apprenticeship schemes. On the contrary, in countries with more school based systems, like Slovakia, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Bulgaria, the engagement of SMEs in the supply of placements is more challenging as they lack the support systems and fail to realize both the financial and social benefits.
Based on this need, project “Return on Investment of Work Based learning and apprenticeships” (project N°: 2017-1-SK01-KA202-035375) suggests the development of a return on investment (RoI) model and digital tool that will allow European SMEs to calculate and visualise how investment on WBL and apprenticeships can manifest to multiple benefits, especially economic benefits, which you can have a glimpse on below.
10 Economic benefits for SMEs
In conclusion, there are a number of key benefits of work-based learning and apprenticeships for SMEs, which are not always considered by the companies. If you are leading one of the 99% of SMEs in the EU, wouldn't you want to increase your productivity and innovation capacity? Or strengthen your brand as an employer, develop your talent in-hose and increase your retention rate? Overall, wouldn't you want to decrease your talent acquisition costs?
If every employer asks themselves these questions, it appears significantly evident how important it is to review their practices regarding work-based learning and apprenticeships and to better evaluate their future investment. However, more awareness needs to be raised about the benefits of WBL and apprenticeship among SMEs as well as support.
“Return on Investment of Work Based learning and apprenticeships”, co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union suggests has developed a return on investment (RoI) model and digital tool that will allow European SMEs to calculate and visualise how investment on WBL and apprenticeships can manifest to multiple benefits.
The Model for calculating the return on investment (ROI) of worked-based learning and apprenticeship reflects the perspective of the consortium “Return on Investment of Work Based Learning and Apprenticeships”, project coordinated by Slovakia, with partners from Portugal, Greece, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Italy, Cyprus, United Kingdom and Spain. For more information about the partners in the project, read here.
The “RoI of WBL and apprenticeships” is based on the traditional model of calculating ROI, taking into consideration the costs and benefits of the SMEs regarding their investments in WBL and the apprenticeship courses.
The list/menu of key “costs” and “benefits” proposed by the model are based on national research reports, developed for partners' countries (such as Slovakia, Portugal, Greece, Bulgaria, Italy and Spain), highlighted the SMEs needs and their national apprenticeship system.
What is ROI?
ROI is the calculation that compares the value of outcomes (changes as a result of an activity) to the value of the resources needed to create them.
Presented as a ratio, the value of outcomes is divided by the value of resources required to create them. The results of the calculation demonstrate the efficiency of an investment or activity. This can aid decision making by highlighting if an investment provides a positive return, and if there is more than option, it can help decide which option provides the greatest return.
The return on investment formula is:
ROI = Value of outcomes / Value of investment
In the above formula, "Value of outcomes” refers to the aggregated value of all of the included outcomes of investing in WBL.
As well as presenting results as ROI, the net present value of money can also be used to aid decision making. This is calculated by subtracting the value of the investment from the value of the outcomes.
The net present value formula is:
Net present value = Value of outcomes – value of investment
13 Interesting Insights to Review from the International Conference 'Digital Skills & Innovation @2030'
The conference was organised to reveal the results of the 2-years DigiThink project, where 6 organisations were working together: KISMC - Bulgaria, State University of Library Studies and IT - Bulgaria, University of Deusto - Spain, Tecnalia - Spain, Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra - Slovakia, Training 2000 - Italy. In addition to that, the international conference "Digital Skills & Innovation @2030" brought together innovation and digital experts, entrepreneurs, investors, academicians, professionals and stakeholders in the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. During the event like-minded people had the opportunity to exchange views on various topics in the digital, innovation and entrepreneurship space and discuss potential collaboration.
The event was full of excitement, great networking over glasses of wine and plenty of follow ups bringing potential opportunities for everyone.
1. Design Thinking for DigiThink
- Human Oriented approach: “Empathising”
- We focus on the “creators” of new digital products and services, their needs and the environment for their activity.
- In today’s fast developing and increasingly digital world, organizations face many challenges: disruptive technologies, economic pressures, globalization and, mainly, keeping up with changes in customer behaviour.
2. Objectives for "Design Thinking for Digital Innovation"
- to take students out of their comfort zone of learning to create innovative products and services
- to encourage students to start their social businesses
- to develop necessary digital skills for both target groups: student teams - digital business creation and lecturers – open educational resources in courses
- to develop empathy, ethics, values, and sense of social responsibility.
3. Responsible Research & Innovation (RRI)
- A major part of the current EU Research Framework Programme “Horizon 2020” is dedicated to societal challenges.
- Challenge-driven programmes are usually interdisciplinary and often cover the entire innovation chain from fundamental research to demonstration.
- Within the R&I system there have been examples of controversies and failures in fulfilling societal expectations in part because not all key actors were engaged
- Certain key issues (or policy agendas) need to be taken into account:
- gender equality
- open access
- public engagement
- science education
4. Experience Logic Marketing & Design Thinking
5. The Agile School & Scrum Ban Lab for Business
- A lab for experiments for creating didactic instruments based on the toolbox applied in real practice
- Parents are the stakeholders in the education process and are kind of Product Owners, along with teachers
- Teachers are moderators, mentors and observe the processes of building the "overall picture" as they are the Product Owners together with the representatives of the companies, organizations and institutions
- Students self-organize, self-assess (somewhat) and work in teams / clusters
6. Gameplay for Inspiring Digital Adoption (GIRDA)
- GIRDA is using multiplayer touchscreen games to introduce older people to digital technology. The aim is to help them build confidence, motivation and skills in an informal, social setting where there is no pressure to learn.
- Research has shown how trust and confidence in using the internet grow quickly with first-hand experience - but many older people don’t take the first step.
7. Design Principles in Higher Education
- The dimensions of wickedness are prevalent in the problem; and
- Student tasks are challenging and require them to get involved in the problem. This leads to the (experienced) open-endedness of the problem solving process and the need to cross boundaries.
- Ensure alignment between learning goals, coaching, assessment with regard to boundary crossing
- Organize milestones.
8. Is Design Thinking the Right Tool?
- developing technology enablers?
- creating startups?
- easily design products?
9. Cluster & Digital Innovation Hub
An important component within the cluster is the development of working groups such as:
10. Design Thinking & Intrapreneurship
Where to start from?
No, it's not creating ideas...
It is FINDING PROBLEMS.
Combining empathy, creativity, collaboration and prototyping.
11. Entrepreneurship & Innovation
- Entrepreneurs use innovation to drive and achieve change for commercial or socio-economic results
- Innovation underpins the differentiator that allows the entrepreneurs to succeed by utilising their unique skills-set and personality
12. SMEs Innovation & Growth Acceleration
- SMEs represent 99% of all business in the EU
- SMEs are the backbone of the economy and have skills they can leverage
- Start-ups are interesting but risky (96% die before they turn 5 years)
That is why the IXLerator has been designed to take multiple teams in the creation of the
innovation process system and obtaining results in SMEs.
13. Smart Cities & Accelerating Innovation
If you didn't have a chance to attend, don't forget to follow our social media as well as sign up for our Newsletter.
6 Reasons to Attend the International Conference 'Digital Skills & Innovation @2030' [Sofia, 11 July 2018]
However, most of us know, have seen or/and have attended the large number of events that have been taking place in Sofia and Bulgaria in the last 6 months because of Bulgaria holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Despite that, we believe that 'Digital Skills & Innovation @2030' will bring value to you and below you can find 6 reasons why you should attend it.
1. Conference programme featuring international panellists
2. Panels with exciting topics to inspire hot discussions
3. Deeper understanding of Design Thinking for Digital Innovation
4. Practical workshop / Competition game on Design Thinking
5. Wine Networking
6. Meet all the project partners/conference organizers for potential future collaboration
The group gathering took place as part of the main project objective of BASET: Boost Aid for Social Entrepreneurship through Training which is to establish and maintain a well-developed and a more effective the process of training the trainers of social entrepreneurs (SE).
For more information on the focus group, please read here
The results will provide the base for the elaboration of the digital tool for the calculation of the return on investments (ROI) of WBL and apprenticeships made by SMEs. The research is part of the project “Return on Investment of Work Based learning and Apprenticeships” project N°: 2017-1-SK01-KA202-035375.
We would highly appreciate your participation in this study. The research is taking place in all the countries of the project's partnership: Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Spian and the UK. However, with this post we are focussed on Bulgarian SMEs and will take you a few minutes to enourmously help the study.
* In the processing of analysis data, partners will maintain the confidentiality of your response.
Why the ROI Project?
The innovative force of the project is the development of a model of costs and benefits calibrated on the specific needs of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in order to calculate in advance the return of investments. Differently from traditional ROI analysis, the model presented by the project focuses on both SMEs-related benefits as well as on society-related ones in order to clearly demonstrate the multilevel outcomes derived from work-based learning practices.
Your Contribution to the Research Matters
1. Model for Return on Investment of WBL and apprenticeships
2. Digital tool
3. Good practice guide
For more information on the tools, please read here and below you will find useful information from the resources you will have access to when they become available:
- If you are an SME already involved in apprenticeships, you will gain a model and a practical digital tool to calculate the return on investment from your engagement in the provision of WBL and apprenticeships. You will also benefit from the opportunity to promote your related activities through the Good Practices Guide and the participation in the apprenticeships-friendly enterprises badge. This will allow you to gain visibility on your local and national markets, as a company that cares for their apprenticeships. This visibility will support your company’s’ image and social responsibility.
- If you are an SME with no previous experience in apprenticeships, you will get familiar and discuss the benefits of apprenticeships for the local development and the progress of your own company. By visualising the benefits for your company, through the provision of WBL and Apprenticeships, you are expected to engage in the provision of such positions thus enhancing the overall VET provision at local level and enhancing access to training and qualifications for all.
- If you are a VET provider, you will have at your disposal a model and a digital tool to promote to SMEs in order to engage them in the provision of apprenticeships. This way you will be able to find more easily apprenticeship positions for your learners.
- If you are a policy maker, you will be able to use the model and the digital tool results in your decision making processes in order to discuss the funding mechanisms for apprenticeships and engage in a dialogue with SMEs, VET providers and social partners for the identification of a sustainable funding formula.
* Erasmus+ is the European Union’s (EU) programme for education, training, youth and sport, with the EU committing £12 billion to the programme between 2014 and 2020. By 2020 it is expected that over 800,000 education and training staff and youth workers will teach or train abroad across Europe with Erasmus+. Projects provide opportunities for learners and staff to improve their skills, enhance their employability and gain cultural awareness.
Knowledge, Innovation and Strategies Management Club (KISMC) is a partner along with a diverse and complementary mix of organisations - from Slovakia the Technical University of Kosice (TUKE), 3 training organisations active in VET: IDEC - Greece, CECOA - Portugal, PIT - Spain and also from the UK - Social Value UK - a network focusing on social value and social impact, from Italy a network focusing on the promotion of digital learning and use of ICT - DLEARN and an ICT company focusing in ICT-enabled E&T - Cosmic Innovations - Cyprus.
Calculate the ROI for Apprenticeships & WBL
For SMEs with limited financial resources, work based learning (WBL) represents an important tool. The RoI online tool offers:
- a cost and social benefits model calibrated on specific needs of SME managers and entrepreneurs to calculate the RoI for apprenticeships and WBL supply.
ROI Project Objectives
- Contribute to the sustainable investment of WBL and apprenticeships by making apparent their benefits for both individual SMEs and the society as a whole
- Develop a model for the calculation of RoI of WBL and apprenticeships by SMEs
- Design a digital tool that will demonstrate the RoI model in a visual way
- Develop a Good Practice Guide addressed to SMEs, giving guidance on how to design, implement and monitor profitable apprenticeship practices which can benefit the enterprise, the apprentice and the entire society
- Create and promote an apprenticeship-friendly SMEs badge to increase the engagement of companies in the provision of WBL
- Promote a VET – SMEs cooperation, through experimentation and validation of the RoI model
A Project Designed to Engage
- Managers, staff and trainers from SMEs that already host or are interested in providing WBL and apprenticeship;
- Staff from VET providers, i.e. VET teachers and trainers, administrative staff dealing with apprenticeships, etc;
- Policy makers, representative of stakeholders, VET expert and practitioners, social partners.
In addition to that, long-term beneficiaries such as VET learners who will benefit from the increased provision of WBL opportunities in their local, regional and national area.
The project has been successful in the Erasmus+ call in 2017 and consequently co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union for its 2-years' implementation. Erasmus+ is the European Union’s (EU) programme for education, training, youth and sport, with the EU committing £12 billion to the programme between 2014 and 2020. By 2020 it is expected that over 800,000 education and training staff and youth workers will teach or train abroad across Europe with Erasmus+. Projects provide opportunities for learners and staff to improve their skills, enhance their employability and gain cultural awareness.
During the kick off meeting in Sofia all partners discussed their previous experience in social entrepreneurship and agreed on an agenda that would focus on producing quality intellectual outputs that would assist all stakeholders in the social entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Blog post by our team, innovation contributors, VIP members, blog guests, etc.
Funding For Innovation
Work Based Learning
The Knowledge, Innovation and Strategies Management Club is a non-profit organisation set up in Sofia, Bulgaria in 2012 to foster knowledge and innovation management across South East Europe. KISMC is supporting the development of the innovation ecosystem in the region by bridging the gap between education, research and business.
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