Social ideas win! - The Social Entrepreneurship Challenge of the ADA brings 15 winning projects in 20 countries and much innovation!

The Austrian Development Agency (ADA) called for a Challenge in December 2015: we were looking for new ideas for this world’s challenges. The results were presented on 10 May 2016. “We received 35 applications for 22 projects and 13 feasibility studies, which highly topped our 1 million euros subsidy” Martin Ledolter, Managing Director of the ADA, happily announces. “This overwhelming response exceeded our expectations. We are happy that development cooperation inspired young businesses and founders too and that together with new and creative partners we can contribute to a better world. We need the economy in order to be able to achieve a greater leverage effect and eradicate poverty and hunger.”

New ideas, much creativity and innovation

“Sustainable development cooperation often correlates with establishing perspectives in the education system and job market in our target countries. Both succeed with effective business partnerships. The Challenge of the ADA was a crucial step for transferring additional know-how, creativity and innovation into the area of development cooperation”, states Federal Minister Sebastian Kurz with enthusiasm.

15 entrepreneurs who left the Challenge as winners, presented their “pitch” at the Impact Hub at the beginning of May. Among them was the fashion label Joadre, which produces its products under fair conditions in Nigeria and South Africa and combats human trafficking. Joana Adesuwa Reiterer, who is the CEO of Joadre, wants to integrate disadvantaged women in the value chain. As a result, new sources of income shall be created and the risk of trafficking in human beings lowered. The ADA supports this project with 100,000 euros.

With another 100,000 euros the ADA is funding the Vienna University Children’s Office: together with Indian business partners, the office produces hands-on science communication materials (knowledge boxes) aiming to draw interest for science through fun and games and therefore encourage projects for self-help. “We do not only want to impart knowledge, but foster critical analysis”, says Cyril Dworsky from the Children’s Office.

The online direct sale of organic products, the organization of the logistics chain as well as direct marketing constitutes a mutual project of the Dorfmeister Projektentwicklungs GmbH and the Serbian company Zelenoo. The goal is to connect small and medium-sized farmers, who have difficulties to keep up with the competition and who are therefore at risk of poverty, with urban and quality-conscious consumers.

Investments for a better future

The broad range of projects of the winners of the Social Entrepreneurship Challenge is diverse and covers areas from the Western Balkans to Africa and Asia. “I am glad that the winners of the Social Entrepreneurship Challenge are also addressing partner countries of the Austrian Development Cooperation and contributing to the improvement of living conditions”, stresses Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Director General of the Department for Development Cooperation of the Foreign Ministry.

“The Social Entrepreneurship Challenge shows once again that the investment in young people with a vision is an investment for a better future and that we need dynamics of youth to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”, confirms Katharina Turnauer, president of the non-profit Katharina Turnauer Private Foundation.

Creating and developing synergies

“The winners will complete an accompanying program at the Impact Hub in the following 18 months, which will provide them with the necessary tools for the success of their business models”, says Lena Gansterer, program director at the Impact Hub. “We will also launch the DevelopmentHubClub in mid-June, a platform which is supposed to bring social businesses and development cooperation closer to one another and create new partnerships and synergies.”

In the meantime, the ADA strengthens its commitment in the ecosystem for social entrepreneurship: together with Ashoka a scaling agency for social entrepreneurship will be established in fall 2016, and entrepreneurship with positive social and ecological effects will be supported in all six countries of Western Balkans through the social entrepreneur Yunus (Yunus Social Business) and the Impact Hub network.