On 3 March 2014 EuCham organized the Social Business Forum with the aim of raising awareness and spearheading new social business initiatives. It was inspired by Nobel Prize laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus’ new model of capitalism based on microfinance, promoted by him to eradicate poverty and to spread the idea of cause-driven business.The conference raised widespread positive feedback from the almost 150 participants who attended from the private, public and NGO sectors.
The President of EuCham Mr Michele Orzan opened the conference by highlighting the need for including the social needs of disadvantaged groups into business models, as the ones currently pursued by companies are often not inclusive.
His message was reinforced by the video presence of Ms Antonella Noya of OECD, sharing the outcomes of the research on social entrepreneurship undertaken by the OECD over the last 20 years.
The keynote speaker Ms Samantha Caccamo, Founder and CEO of Social Business Earth, shared the lesson taken from Prof. Yunus, expressing the hope that her experience would be a valuable source of inspiration for those willing to act.
Ms Anna Horváth, Country Director of NESsT, drew attention to the growing inequalities in emerging market countries and the lack of fair employment and basic services for the disadvantaged class. The social enterprise model is one of the responses, which was also pointed out by Mr János Czafrangó, Project Manager for good.bee, a project of the Erste Foundation focusing on innovative solutions to the urgent social problems.
To encourage the exchange of opinions among promoters of the social business initiative, the presentations were followed by a panel discussion with participants expressing their views on social business practices gained through their hands-on experience. The panel was comprised of Mr Simon Ingram-Hill (Director, British Council), Mr István Szabó (CR Manager, KPMG), Ms Zsazsa Demeter (Leader, Ashoka HU) and Ms Rozi Váczi (Owner, Matyodesign). All panelists agreed that building trust and promoting dialog are essential for the success of social enterprises. Furthermore, to ensure their long term sustainability financial support, collaboration, co-creation and training are vital.