The Social Innovation Factory is a networking organisation of civil society organisations and social entrepreneurs that promotes, coaches and supports social and societal innovative concepts. It is based on the belief that businesses and organisations (both for-profit and non-profit) have the power to create new strategies, products, services and concepts that provide answers to societal challenges, such as poverty, climate change, aging and loneliness. It provides access to knowledge and expertise through its continually growing learning network, and is developing a social business model and exploring social impact bonds as ways to facilitate positive social impact.
The organisation communicates about its own knowledge and capacity building in a transparent way that avoids jargon and specialist language. However, because there may be issues regarding competition and sensitive internal processes, it respects confidentiality on projects in development and discloses only general findings, recommendations and tools. The social business model tool is offered in a workshop, which attendees pay for in euros or in knowledge.
Because good intentions are not enough to make a difference, the organisation challenges innovators to think their concepts through: What is their mission? Is the social impact that they strive for clear? What is their revenue model? Which partners and stakeholders are involved? It is also exploring a redesign of the funding process (using social impact bonds) that would be based more on the societal impact and societal value brought about by social innovations and less on their economic value.
As a small organisation, the Social Innovation Factory can adjust and change procedures and processes quite quickly according to the needs of its clients. Connecting different types of stakeholders and sectors through the learning network, peer tables and events enriches understanding of each other’s perspectives, needs and concerns. The organisation is also planning action research to test impact measurements in different working environments and on different topics.
The learning network is much used by innovators, and the social business model tool has been developed and is being fine-tuned. The organisation has set up a reflection group on social impact and about 50 one-on-one sessions that team experts with innovators on specific questions. Other workshops and tools are being developed. The social pitch box offers an online pitching tool for innovators and entrepreneurs to spread their concepts. We also offer now workshops on pitching and financial planning. In each workshop we integrate peer to peer learning systems.
Collective intelligence is too often neglected, but it is a very powerful tool for creating enthusiasm, insights and a movement of like-minded people across sectors, organisations and themes. Social innovation and entrepreneurship is very challenging, a tailored approach for innovators is a must. They have to be able to learn and grow their project at their own pace.