On May 24th almost 200 participants gathered to the 10th Social Entrepreneurship Forum in Riga, Latvia. Can social entrepreneurship be a successful business? This was the main question of this year’s forum. The answers were sought during the lectures, workshops, and competitions throughout the day.
The first part of the day was dedicated to the theme “Business models” – professionals and practitioners from Latvia, Austria and Romania shared their social business success stories. All of the speakers brought something new to the audience with their stories such as a reward system for customers who bring their own bag when going shopping (“goodbag”, Austria), production of design products that are made with the aim to preserve the cultural heritage and craftsmanship as well as encourage the employment and education of the Roma people ( “Mesteshukar ButiQ” /MBQ/, Romania) and the global change ecosystem that brings together people in need with social innovation projects in Europe, Asia and Africa (“Make Room”).
During the second part of the day the search for successful business models continued, but with a more practical approach – three social enterprises that are based in Latvia were analyzed through their business canvas models. One of them- “KK Original Design” – a social enterprise that creates special mobility aids for people with disabilities- specializes in production, the second – “Sonido”- a call center that provides job places for social risk groups, providing customers with multilingual information – is providing services, while the third – “Cesis’s New Primary school” created with the aim of fostering availability of high-quality and modern pre-school and primary education in the region – was representing social initiatives in the educational field. Therefore participants had the chance to hear about three different social businesses, their operational modules and discuss possible cooperations.
The third and last part of the Forum was the most intense – a competition of pitch among six member organisations of the Social Entrepreneurship Association of Latvia with the prize of 2000 EUR. The winner was determined by the audience vote and this time the prize went to social enterprise “Dabas zirgi”.
The anniversary year of the Social Entrepreneurship Forum was successful and brought new knowledge, and new connections. The social entrepreneurship and social innovation field continue to grow in Latvia with each year with a growing number of courageous and active innovators and entrepreneurs.