Social enterprises, networks and collaboration work

In the first week of August five Social Enterprises (SE) chosen by our partner organization NESsT from its portfolio from several Eastern European and Latin American countries visited SEIF in Switzerland.

NESsT develops sustainable social enterprises that solve critical social problems in emerging market economies. The two-day visit addressed the issues of digital communication and success factors for the Swiss market.

To do that we looked at the needs of the social entrepreneurs and the important role digital communication can play in moving their company forward, and gave them a few tips and tricks on how to get visitors to their website, the basics of search engine optimization (SEO) and the main aspects of advertising.

But the entrepreneurs were here not just to listen. They were encouraged to ask questions and raise problems they were dealing with on their daily work. We also arranged an afternoon at the well-known and very successful social enterprise ESPAS, which supports the integration of disabled people in the job market, and found out that the main difference between Romania and Switzerland seems to be where the funding comes from. Romanian social start-ups in this sector do not receive any public funding, while their salary in Switzerland will be paid by the insurance.

The visiting social entrepreneurs are advancing powerful solutions for improving educational outcomes and creating jobs opportunities in Romania. They had the exclusive chance to pitch in front of an extraordinary jury made out of seven people mainly from the social entrepreneurship field and with experience in sectors as different as clothing, food and household goods. The jury gave them valuable feedback, and for some social enterprises the pitch was the beginning of a collaboration with Swiss partners.

The tour of the social enterprises through Zurich, on the other hand, gave them an insight to different business models in Switzerland and closed an intensive and inspiring couple of days.

Our guests from NESsT went home with plenty of insights and action plans and we were thankful for having such motivated, curious and nice guests from Romania in Zurich. During these days every participant, whether a social entrepreneur from Romania or Switzerland, a jury member or the host developed skills, self-confidence and made quite a few new contacts.