The first pan-Baltic conference on social impact was held in Vilnius, Lithuania on 22nd November 2018. There were representatives from the social enterprise sectors from several countries, including the UK, Lithuania, Latvia, Sweden, Finland, and Estonia.
Mark Richardson, Rasa Žilionė and Loreta Sinkevičiūtė attended on behalf of the INTSENSE project.
During his address, Mark spoke to the 200 or so delegates about INTSENSE and the research into internationalising social enterprise, as well as speaking about social impact measurement. The three INTSENSE partners also discussed internationalisation in more detail with leaders of social enterprise networks of the represented countries.
Once again our findings were reinforced, that while there is increased sharing of learning and approaches between networks and governments, there is still little or no specialist support to help social enterprises trade or operate internationally.
Peter Ptashko, manager of the Global Social Entrepreneurship Network, said that around 30% of their members (social enterprise support organisations) were operating across borders. But generally the social enterprises they support are early stage and focussed on local operations.
Annica Johansson, of Reach for Change said that their alumni network stretches across 17 different countries and supporting collaboration between them is something the organisation is lookong to support in the future.
Juris Cebulis, the manager of Latvia’s social enterprise fund said that his fund was available to social enterprises wishing to expand their activities, and this could include internationalisation. (Although it was not specifically included as an option, it was not precluded either.) Advice however would need to be obtained through the government’s mainstream business support services.
In Lithuania, social enterprise has now been recognised as a specific group in need of support by Enterprise Lithuania, the government’s business support agency. This agency is also responsible for advice about international trading, which opens up the prospect of a smoothly integrated service. However, it was acknowledged that, at present, Enterprise Lithuania do not have any expertise in social enterprise, so this is something that needs to be developed.