Toppling a Paradigm, Building a New One in Europe: From Subsidies to Investment

Toppling a Paradigm, Building a New One in Europe: From Subsidies to Investment

Authored by: Renee Manuel and Felix Oldenburg

Over the years, financial indicators and quantitative metrics have grown in importance in evaluating society’s competitiveness. In spite of this, the most important indicator remains remarkably simple: How many changemakers are there?

As representatives from Ashoka, we talk about making a world where “Everyone is a Changemaker” – empowering people to engineer social change in a way that no one has thought of before. From 30 years of experience searching for leading social entrepreneurs, we have learned two things:

1. Social entrepreneurs emerge in every society, no matter how progressive or traditional, and often from the most unlikely backgrounds.

2. As resilient and creative as they might be, the speed of growth of their innovations depends on whether we can create and support the needed infrastructure for their ideas to scale.

But what happens when the financial ecosystem in which social entrepreneurs work is fundamentally broken? Where, for instance, the financing structures that are offered encourage dependency, organizational growth, and shrinking salary pools to pay top level talent?

Instead of empowering social entrepreneurs to unleash their innovations on the market, the current forms of capital hinder citizen sector organizations and box their ideas into programmatic grants and traditional non-profit models, or offer loans and equity at conditions that threaten to undermine their social purpose.

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