Business with social value

A new type of entrepreneur is on the rise. These are people who see a business opportunity and set out to make money, but in doing so help to solve social problems, conserve the environment and promote the integration of vulnerable people into the workplace. Social entrepreneurship is a global trend that offers specific, flexible innovations in order to change the world, a process which usually starts with changing the part which is nearest.

The latest edition of Bizbarcelona, held at the beginning of July, put the enormous potential of social entrepreneurship squarely on the table. “A fledgling market in our country, but one which is growing rapidly” according to Clara Navarro of Ship2B, a foundation aimed at fostering and boosting companies with a high social impact.

biz_2In recent years, a large number of similar consultancies and assessors have emerged to guide these new social entrepreneurs, and the public administration is developing specific programmes to support the endeavours of this group. However, the numbers taking the plunge is still very small. The last edition of the Informe GEM España, puts us in last place among European countries for the percentage of social entrepreneurs (0.51%). We therefore have a lot of ground to make up, especially considering that Anglo-Saxon countries have been creating and developing these businesses with social impact for over twenty years.

As examples, we have chosen three of the best business initiatives from the programme for the creation of social businesses set up by Barcelona Activa that we came across in the aforementioned edition of Bizbarcelona.

  • 1. A New look at Graffitti

Marc García is one of the founders of RebobinART, an association that “liberates” and manages spaces for creativity to allow Barcelona’s urban artists to create their works legally. This project, which was awarded 12,000 euros as the first prize for social entrepreneurship of Barcelona Activa, also aims to change our perception of urban artworks, offering added value and promoting the most capable artists. It is all based on groundwork carried out in the districts of the city, with neighbourhood associations and bodies and an educational programme for junior and high schools.

  • 2. Creative tourism for all

Núria Valero is one of the people behind FunTrip4all, an accessible tourism platform that puts people with special needs in contact with local guides – professional and amateur, with or without disabilities – who are able to offer them a travel experience adapted to their needs. Inspired by the force of the collaborative economy, this project is supplemented by a range of activities suited to disabled tourists, the elderly or those with specific conditions, and encourages the users to make their arrangements themselves, to make suggestions and to build relations with each other.

  • 3. Financing good ideas

Eduard Clariana is the man behind Realfunding, an online finance company based on crowdlending, a version of crowdfunding which uses collective loans to finance business projects. In this case, the sums provided must be returned with the interest that was set. But Realfunding goes further than this and has specialized in the search for credit in favourable conditions for businesses with environmental or social impact. It uses its online platform to select social entrepreneurship projects and to put them in contact with savers who are concerned about the way their money is to be used. Besides granting loans, it encourages the involvement and “non-monetised” collaboration of the investors in the project by using their time, knowledge and contacts.