Going Local on Social Entrepreneurship Madi Sharma and Ariane Rodert

Apr 8 2014
Participation of Ariane Rodert and Madi Sharma as keynote speakers at the Global Social Entrepreneurship Network Conference, Oxford University

Following the very successful EESC and European Commission event in Strasbourg in February 2014  on social entrepreneurship and the forerunning EUCLID event where I was a speaker, I was invited to give the keynote address at the celebratory cocktail reception of a new initiative, the Global Social Entrepreneurship Network,  to present my experience as an entrepreneurs and the work of the EESC. I recommended to the organisers that as the EESC is currently conducting a project on social entrepreneurship and that it would be valuable to do a double act with Ariane Rodert, rapporteur of the EESC opinion on the Social Business Initiative and President of the social entrepreneurship project.

As this was an international conference with many European participants we therefore made this a “Going Local on Social Entrepreneurship”.

Unfortunately neither of us had time to attend the 2 day seminar but we arrived well in time to listen to the final plenary session on recommendations and conclusions from real social entrepreneurs, intermediaries, investors, government representatives (UK Cabinet Office) and those representing international perspectives. Ariane will incorporate these recommendations into the EESC reports.

Much of the focus was on the perceptions of how social enterprises should be run and under what criteria; this included how to scale up whilst retaining the core values and principles. Additionally the main focus was on investment and how ethical investment could be controlled, how enterprises should be investment ready, but investment should not be the key focus nor a distraction to a start up.

Moving forward platforms and structures which enhanced partnerships and collaboration would be welcomed and GSEN hoped it may be able to play a role here. GSEN itself is a start up, less than 7 months old, but it is already a learning network for organisations supporting early stage social entrepreneurs in the world.

Our speeches were conducted in the very impressive Bodleian Library, in Oxford.  The first speaker Pamela Hartigan , Director of Skoll Centre at Said Business Scholl  spoke on entrepreneurship as the dynamic for change , and that social entrepreneurship was necessary to be supported as it addressed social issues which were challenging governments globally

Ariane presented the work of the EESC, the Strasbourg declarations on social entrepreneurship and how the EESC consulted with civil society to bring the policy recommendations not only to the EU Commission but also to national governments through our work. She explained the process of how this happens, especially in terms of the Project which was currently being undertaken in the EESC by going local and listening to those throughout the value chain working on social entrepreneurship, including and especially the entrepreneurs themselves.

Ariane highlighted several key recommendations already identified both in the plenary session of GSEN and in the EESC conference in Strasbourg, but she particularly reiterated that investment was an issue but not the focus.

I spoke on being an entrepreneur and a member of the EESC and how the two roles fitted together.  Adding to Ariane’s words I shared how the fact that the members of the EESC were practitioners,  in most cases,  means that we delivered the relevant recommendations beyond the theory. I explained that the human capital component in today’s society was being ignored as we stereotype on who has the ability to develop ideas. The EESC’s work on entrepreneurship, female empowerment and Europe’s young people all endorsed that it would be citizens from the grass roots and not politicians who would solve the current global challenges. I gave my personal story to endorse Ariane’s recommendations and our work as members.

Not only was it a privilege to represent the EESC, it was also an honour to speak at Oxford University and a real pleasure to speak alongside Ariane Rodert and share our work.

Please do not hesitate to contact me for any further information madi@madisharma.org.

Thank you for this great opportunity to introduce the EESC’s vision on social entrepreneurship.

Madi  x


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