Google’s Social Innovation Fund as a tool for strengthening the social entrepreneurship ecosystem in Slovenia
On the 9th of December 2021 Google and the Slovenian Ministry of Digital Transformation have signed an agreement on the basis of which Google will invest 2.5 million euros in Slovenia in the next two years to help with digital transformation. The recipients of funds are the leading Slovenian research, educational and business institutions. One million euros of the whole investment will be allocated by Google.org to strengthen the Slovenian social entrepreneurship ecosystem. The funds are part of the new Google.org Social Innovation Fund in Europe, which supports the development of social entrepreneurship in Europe. Under this fund, grants were provided to Fund 05, our Slovenian partner in the Interreg SIV project.
Rowan Barnett, Head of Google.org EMEA (http://Google.org), who was also present at the press conference on the Memorandum signature event between Google and the Republic of Slovenia that was held in Ljubljana (Slovenia) on the 9th of December 2021, stressed the importance of social entrepreneurship during the recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic. In Slovenia, Google will offer free workshops, tools and programs, as well as targeted consultations to current and future entrepreneurs, employees and jobseekers
What is the Google background of those activities?
Social entrepreneurs tackle big societal challenges that benefit people and the planet alike — with sustainable business models.
In Europe, there are an estimated 2.8 million social enterprises that employ 13.6 million people and contribute to a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable economy. However, the pandemic has exacerbated some of the challenges that these social entrepreneurs face, including existing inequalities and access to resources.
Which is why today, Google is committing €20 million in cash funding through the Google.org Social Innovation Fund to support underserved social entrepreneurs across Europe through access funding, networks, skills and tools to grow their business
Social entrepreneurs need more support
According to a study released today by ChangemakerXchange and The Possibilists and co-funded by Google.org, only 1 in 5 young social entrepreneurs can live off their venture and over 60% have experienced burnout. Entrepreneurs from underserved communities experience these challenges more acutely. In addition, research from the Euclid Network shows that social enterprises face significant barriers to growing their business and scaling their impact. In particular, they lack access to capital and support from companies and governments.
Private companies need to play their part in helping the social economy. Today, the European Commission is setting out a strong policy agenda to support social enterprises in its EU Action Plan on the Social Economy and calling on governments, funders and companies to do more to support the social economy. Google is committed to doing their part and to building on their work at Google for Startups in Europe over the last ten years, among which most notably the Google.org Impact Challenges and the more than €10 million in Google.org funding that they have awarded to social enterprises to support charitable projects over the last 3 years.
For instance, Paris-based social enterprise Chance (previously called YGeneration) knows first-hand how critical such support can be — now more than ever. In 2015, Google.org awarded them $200,000 to further their mission of using technology to help people from underserved communities access career guidance, digital coaching and the job market.
Seven years later — with the help of mentoring from Google volunteers and an additional $2 million in Google.org funding — they’ve helped 10,000 job seekers to find roles and improve their careers. They also inspired additional funders to invest over €5 million, and will soon announce that they’ve attracted additional funding to reach even more people in French and English-speaking countries.
We know there are more social entrepreneurs who could have a positive impact on their communities, if they could get more support.
Supporting underserved entrepreneurs and social economy ecosystems
Google’s today’s announcement will deepen their support for the social economy, with €20 million in cash funding, as well as additional in-kind support through AdGrants.
€13 million will go toward strengthening local social economy ecosystems across Europe, and creating better access for underserved entrepreneurs. This funding will support leading social economy organizations to create and scale programs that help build the capacity of underserved entrepreneurs, and provide access to networks, upskilling and tools.
The first grant within this campaign will be €1 million to Fund 05 in Slovenia to help catalyse the country’s nascent social entrepreneurship sector. The overall objective of the Project is to support underserved End Beneficiaries to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, access greater economic opportunity within the social economy, and empower them to create solutions to address critical societal challenges related to the sustainable development goals.
Grantee will use Grant Funds to support the Project called “Act Imp Act”. The Project will:
- support End Beneficiaries with training and wraparound supports to develop social impact ventures;
- support End Beneficiaries with access to the social economy through skills training and networks;
- accelerate the development of social economy programmes in Slovenia to address critical societal challenges related to Covid and sustainable development goals
- support End Beneficiaries in their creation and/or development of 150 social impact ventures.
The Project will support the following End Beneficiaries:
- Young underserved people (up to 28 years old), with a focus on those living in rural areas, young women, low-income households and persons with a disability
- Underserved women, with a focus on single mothers, women from rural areas and women with disabilities
Furthermore, by these means Google is also supporting the Euclid Network to gather social economy leaders so they can share insights, learnings and solutions across borders.
In addition, Google is giving a €7 million grant to INCO to provide access to capital and support for entrepreneurs from underserved communities in the form of cash grants between €25,000 - €100,000 each to scale up their enterprises. INCO will also help individuals who are just starting out turn their idea into a business, with funding of €4.000 - €10.000 alongside mentoring and incubation services.
To unlock the full potential of the social economy, we need to work together — that includes governments, companies, foundations, investors, nonprofits, cooperatives and social enterprises. That’s why Google is joining the World Economic Forum’s COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs.
As we work towards an inclusive economic recovery, the decisions that companies, funders, foundations and policymakers make now will determine what our economies of tomorrow will look like. We hope that social entrepreneurship — which truly puts purpose, people and planet at the center of business goals — can influence the economy going forward.