The issue of financing social enterprises was the focus of the second panel discussion, chaired by Mr. George Alexopoulos, researcher and associate at the EU’s Employment and Social Innovation Programme (EaSI). Ms. Cristina Almeida, Head of the Portuguese platform MAZE, stressed the importance of supporting social startups, not only in terms of funding but also in terms of mentoring and accelerating the actions of these startups.
Mr. Piet Callens, Head of Finance Department at the Social Enterprise Hefboom, which has been active in Belgium for 35 years providing social impact financing, and for the last 10 years they have used the tool of microcredit, and recently – especially in the midst of a pandemic – they have been financially supporting artists through small special purpose loans.
The discussion was “rounded up” by Ms. Elena Avatangelou, co-founder of the social enterprise GivingStreets, who presented an app that allows vulnerable social groups to access funding through a QR code. GivingStreets has won awards in European social economy and financial technology competitions and in just two and a half years has managed to raise funds, complete the app and partner with Praksis, an Independent Humanitarian Organization, in order to enable funding (Money) through technology (Technology) and serve a social purpose (Purpose).