In a world dominated by change, business support organization must be able to readapt their services to an evolving market. Given the fact that a capitalist society is no more sustainable, in the last years, a new form of human economy is taking space: Social Entrepreneurship has been able to show its effectiveness in promoting sustainable development by proposing innovative and sustainable solution to social and environmental problems.
Business support organizations need to readapt their services in order to provide a tailored offer in line with the specific technical needs of social entrepreneurs, with MedUp!, as part of the meso level activities, we are working to reinforce more than 60 social entrepreneurship support organizations (SESOs) through capacity-building and networking activities. In this framework, Euclid Network, partner of the MedUp! Project, organized peer exchanges between SESO senior staff in the MENA region and Europe.
The goal of this activity? Exchange knowledge and good practices, collaboratively work on common challenges and objectives, and explore the social enterprise ecosystem of the host country in a mutual learning perspective. After the exchanges the peers will return to their organizations and share the knowledge acquired with their colleagues. Thus, the exchanges are aimed at facilitating both individual and organizational collaboration and learning between countries of the two sides of the Mediterranean region.
The first round, in which the EU peers traveled to their exchange partners, took place in early 2020. The return round was planned for March 2020 but had to be postponed due to COVID-19. Finally, between September and November 2021, the MENA peers were able to visit their European partners. Morocco, Italy, Palestine, Great Britain, Jordan, Greece, Lebanon and France were just some of the countries involved.
A common ground to build innovative approach
We truly believe in the importance of mutual learning: since the application process our peers, despite the geographic distance, were able to identify common key challenges as social entrepreneurship support organizations. Following their specificities and differences, our peers were able to share and learn mutually. Social entrepreneurs most often combine business activities and social issue, they don’t measure their success in terms of profit alone. Success, to a social entrepreneur, means that they have improved the world. It goes without saying that work on impact measurement is one of the most crucial challenge to support SEs, find a way to measure their impact and give monetary value to that will allow to facilitate access to finance, another key topic of this sector.
Our peers, thanks to this experience have the opportunity to discuss about all the main issues for SEs, understand and learning more about new ecosystems and work together to strengthen their offer and improve the social entrepreneurship support services both in Europe and in the MENA Region.
“The exchange has opened up new partnership opportunities for us across the Mediterranean. Since the initial exchange in 2020, we have already collaborated on a research project mapping social innovation practices in the Mediterranean, and we are exploring new means of collaborating with Impact Hub Siracusa and the members of their networks.” said Eric Asmar from Happy Smala in Morocco.
Eric’s peer, Rosario Sapienza from Impact Hub Siracusa highlighted the importance of networking and collaboration for the research of innovative solution, for this reason he said: “We signed a partnership agreement between Impact Hub Siracusa and Happy Smala to scale our common activities across the Mediterranean.”
Learning from each other, allow to learn new techniques and methods to provide high quality support services to social entrepreneurs and build a support network at the ecosystem level.
We are aware that we have a long way to go, but this EU-MENA peer exchange was a first step in the right direction. We gave an opportunity to build relationship, understand that to face common challenges we must act together and build a strong network for a more friendly ecosystem for social entrepreneurship, the future of our economy.
This piece was elaborated with Elena Mertel from Euclid Network and based on the materials collected from the Post Peer Exchange Survey.