Title: Social Entrepreneurship in start-ups: challenges and obstacles for training programs
Authors: Molderez, Ingrid
Issue Date: Nov-2015
Publisher: Journal of Cleaner Production
Conference: Global Cleaner Production and Sustainable Consumption Conference location:SItges, Barcelona, Spain date:1-4 November 2015
Abstract: Training programmes for start-ups to turn unemployment into self-employment measure effectiveness in terms of economic indicators (Michaelidis & Benus, 2010; Baumgarter & Caliendo, 2008). The social impact in relation to health, happiness and sustainability is often neglected. A study on the social impact of Job Yourself, a non-profit organization in Belgium that helps unemployed people towards self-employment, revealed that aspects of sustainability were included in their guiding process, but at a modest level (Molderez, et al, 2013). Coaches spent a lot of attention on the hardline of business, i.e. customers, accounting, price setting. Survival of the young start-up was more important than including goals in relation to sustainable development. This outcome urged for a follow-up: how can young entrepreneurs be trained for social entrepreneurship, what are the challenges and obstacles to start with a social enterprise. In order to do so a multiple case study was set up. Social entrepreneurs were selected on the basis of Alter’s (2003) framework. She defines social enterprises as hybrid organizations that combine social and business interests. Different from socially responsible businesses and corporations practicing social responsibility, social entrepreneurs are characterized by a mission motive, stakeholder accountability and reinvesting of their income in the organization. According to Dees (1989) they are self-sufficient, market oriented and based on fulfilling social goals. To be able to make comparisons and to disentangle challenges and obstacles, social enterprises were chosen at different stages of their life-cycle: start-ups, young and mature organizations. The data was collected through surveys and interviews. The results demonstrated that social entrepreneurs started their company because of a passion for social change. It took more than one year to actually start their business. Despite the emphasis on a social mission they did not want to communicate about it. They focused on social goals because it fitted within their own philosophy and not because of the economic benefits of their social mission. The social change they could create with their enterprise, triggered them to effectively start an enterprise. They were intrinsically motivated and not inspired by the concept of shared value. Entrepreneurs that were guided by Job Yourself were stimulated to communicate about sustainability and to work on the social cohesion. But, they lacked guidance on how to integrate sustainability aspects in their company. Often entrepreneurs perceived conflicts between economic, ecological and social interests. They did not receive guidance on how to balance these interests. Social entrepreneurs did not get enough support from the external environment. Their market share was modest and suppliers with the same mission were hard to find. This obstacle was difficult to overcome by training programmes because too often social companies operate within a niche. Starting and surviving as a social entrepreneur remained a lonely business. Because they work on their own, they could not spend a lot of time on networking. Relying on their inner circle became a dangerous vicious circle.

Alter Kim Sutia (2003), Social Enterprise: A typology of the field contextualized in Latin America, Working Paper, Washington DC.

Baumgartner, H.J., & Caliendo M. (2008). Turning Unemployment into Self-Employment: Effectiveness of Two Start-Up Programmes. Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, 70, 3 (2008) 0305-9049.
Dees J.G. (1989), The meaning of social entrepreneurship. Stanford: Kauffman Foundation & Stanford University.

Michaelides, M., & Benus, J. (2010). Are self-employment training programs effective? Evidence from Project GATE, MPRA Paper 20880, University Library of Munich, Germany.
Molderez, I., Jonckers, M. & Van de Put, T. (2013). Maatschappelijke impact van JobYourself: Zelftewerkstellingsscan op micro niveau. Vergelijkende analyse tussen zelftewerkgestelden en niet-zelftewerkgestelden, 99 zonder bijlagen pp. Brussel: Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel.
Rodgers, C. (2010). Sustainable Entrepreneurship in SMEs : A Case Study Analysis. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 17 (3), 125-132.
Publication status: accepted
KU Leuven publication type: IMa
Appears in Collections:Department of ECON-CEDON, Campus Brussels
Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB) - miscellaneous

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