Joining Forces for Social Change
On November 17, Europe Foundation and Impact Hub Tbilisi hosted an event – Joining Forces for Social Change, within the framework of the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW). GEW is celebrated annually, in November, in 160 countries. Various events, planned throughout the week enable entrepreneurs to open up new opportunities, network, share ideas, etc.
With its Social Enterprise Development (SE) Program, Europe Foundation has been participating in GEW for five years already. To showcase the importance of social entrepreneurship and present future plans, this year EPF was joined by its strategic partner, Impact Hub Tbilisi (IHT).
Ketevan Vashakidze, President of Europe Foundation made opening remarks and welcomed the guests of event. After welcoming remarks, she gave floor to Tinatin Gholadze, Regional Executive of Global Entrepreneurship Network. The latter spoke about the history of GEW and its goals and objectives.
Since 2009, Europe Foundation and its partner organizations have achieved significant success in promoting the concept of social enterprise in Georgia, but there is still a long way ahead. Viktor Baramia, who had been leading the SE Development Program at Europe Foundation for years, explained what is meant behind “social enterprise” and what social missions the enterprises might serve. He also talked about EPF’s practice of cross-cutting social entrepreneurship within EPF’s other programs (Europe Integration/Food Safety, Youth Integration). He spoke about the activities that had been implemented within the SE program so far, and the upcoming ones, jointly planned with the IHT.
Impact Hub Tbilisi, which represents a new co-working space, is located in one of the most vibrant places in Tbilisi – Fabrika and gathers like-minded people with creative ideas. Part of the global network, IHT, is a collaborative community in the city, enabling its members to unite for the greater social good. Ketevan Ebanoidze, who is the co-founder of the Hub explained the guests in greater detail what mission IHT serves and what possibilities the social enterprises or those, interested in social entrepreneurship might open for them here. She briefly overviewed the planned projects (Business Model Challenge, Social Impact Award etc.) and gave floor to her fellow colleague, another co-founder of the IHB, Elene Jvania, to elaborate more, in details, on one of the biggest upcoming projects – Social Impact Award (SIA).
SIA, a student competition to be implemented jointly by IHB and Europe Foundation and aimed at promoting the knowledge and practice of social entrepreneurship among students in Europe, will be launched in February 2017 . The competition will be open for the Students of the universities in Tbilisi and Telavi. The participants will have an opportunity to develop social enterprise business ideas, undergo mentorship and refine their business ideas, get awards and participate in the Social Impact Award annual summit in Vienna. Moreover, one of the teams will be given an opportunity to implement its idea with the funding from Europe Foundation.
Before closing the event, Europe Foundation’s Youth Bank committee members, who also attended the event, shared their story with the audience: youth, who had attended social entrepreneurship training within EPF’s Youth Integration Program later received a micro grant from the Foundation to implement a small social entrepreneurship project. Gori and Khoni Youth Bank members, with their peers now lead the awareness raising paper recycling campaign, as well as collect paper for recycling at Gori and Khoni local schools, financial and other institutions and transport them to Tbilisi for recycling. With the generated income they purchase fabric to produce handmade reusable shopping bags, to be decorated by the youth with disabilities and sold in Khoni and Gori. The half of the income is used for purchasing stationary and up-to-date academic literature for youth with disabilities, while another half is reinvested toward producing new bags. In response, IHB offered these young people to place a recycling bin at the Hub premises to collect recyclable paper for the benefit of the project.