LIAISE programme will enable development of sustainable businesses for under-represented and social entrepreneurs
This programme aims to kickstart an “eco-systemic” change bringing incubation and business support services closer to the whole society.
The European Business and Innovation Centre Network (EBN), Impact Hub and the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA) kicked off their collaboration to formalise a knowledge exchange under the Linking Incubation Actors for Inclusive and Social Entrepreneurship (LIAISE) programme, funded by the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).
The objective of the project is to provoke a paradigm shift in the European incubation ecosystem towards a more inclusive and impact driven approach to innovative entrepreneurship. The final goal is to kickstart an eco-systemic change aimed at providing social and under-represented entrepreneurs with dedicated business support services, incubation programmes, and virtuous networks enabling them to develop viable and sustainable businesses.
In the sustainable transition, the entrepreneurial innovators providing new solutions to tackle the global challenges we experience in our local, regional and national environments are key enablers. Supporting those who support this new innovative kind of entrepreneurs should be part of the equation.
“At the European Commission we have done a lot in recent years to improve access to finance for social enterprises and entrepreneurs from under-represented groups. However, when speaking with stakeholders we repeatedly got the message that “whilst money is important, it is not enough”. In reality most early-stage businesses need some degree of mentoring and non-financial support, and this is all the more true for under-represented entrepreneurs or social entrepreneurs who deal with a triple bottom line.
We wanted to come up with an approach with really meaningful, systemic impact, so this is where the idea of a pilot project stimulating mainstream business support organisations to broaden their horizons to social and inclusive entrepreneurship came from. The timing has never been better: it feels like we are beyond a ‘tipping point’ in the sustainability debate. Sustainability is now at the core of the policy agenda in Europe. We hope LIAISE can contribute to this bigger picture by bringing these two groups of entrepreneurs onto the radar of mainstream business incubators and mobilising the collective power of European networks”, stated Ann Branch (Head of Unit, European Commission, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) in her closing remarks during the kick-off meeting held online on 27 January 2021.
The LIAISE project will develop a network of networks inspiring debate, providing solutions, and creating partnerships to enable business organisations to support the transition of our economy and society onto a sustainable path.