Social innovators now have the opportunity to learn from others who have scaled their impact with the launch of a new guide. BENISI is a trans-European project that has been working since 2013 to identify and support 300 of the most promising social innovations. BENISI created a network of social innovation accelerators (SIAN) which provided mentoring, training, networking opportunities, tools and contacts to create the conditions for these innovators to scale successfully.
The BENISI Guide captures learnings from the 13 project partners and the innovators they worked with, including case studies of public sector innovations and social enterprises, success tips and a directory of resources to help other social innovations tread the path to scale. The multiplicity of the innovations involved has been inspiring: in diverse sectors from food to IT, from finance to sustainability, these social innovations have had huge impacts on the critical issues of employment, social inclusion and the environment. Let’s take a look at a few examples:
- IT Guide from Sweden works with young migrants and senior Swedish citizens. The migrants use their digital skills to help the senior citizens to bridge the digital divide. In turn, the senior citizens are able to teach the migrants about Swedish language and culture. While each gain valuable skills, suspicion and xenophobia is broken down and all benefit.
- Lemon-Aid produces fair trade organic high quality lemonade and iced tea, and donates its profits back to small farming co-operatives that supply it with the raw materials. They are now trading in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, UK, Netherlands, and have raised 1.2million Euros for development projects in the communities they work with.
- MicroStart is a microlending organisation that lends to small enterprises that have been refused credit elsewhere.
- Koiki is a parcel delivery service that uses local people to walk or cycle to deliver parcels the final leg of their journey, reducing carbon in local neighbourhoods in Madrid.
- Yoni is a sanitary protection company that uses toxic free, biodegradable organic cotton for its tampons, sanitary pads, and panty liners.
- FragNebanan is a platform that connects neighbours to one another within 750 metres of where they live, so they can socialise, lend one another tools or let a tradesperson into the house when they are out. A proven mechanism for real community building in our digital world, this enterprise has grown from Austria to Switzerland
- eSolidar is a platform that allows small and medium sized charities to take advantage of modern online tools to raise funds. Their lead product is the online auction, often of celebrity items such as signed football shirts or backstage passes. However, they also allow individuals or charities to sell their items online and give all or some of the income to a charity, or make a donation.
But, perhaps the most important feedback on the programme is from the social innovators themselves. After all, they, and their beneficiaries, are the reason BENISI exists.
“Being part of BENISI helped me to have a broader perspective than I had when I worked only with my team in Portugal. I got to know the different companies that were also in the programme, had feedback from mentors on the way that the market worked in other countries, such as the UK, and I got the chance to meet investors from across Europe and understand what they see as important. That has allowed us to adjust the way we do things.
Plus I am in conversation with one of those investors now!” -Marco Barbosa, CEO and Founder of eSolidar
BENISI is a consortium led by i-propeller bringing together 13 organisations from 7 countries: Diesis, Eurada, Fondazione Cariplo, Impact Hub, Impact Hub Amsterdam, Impact Hub Bucharest, Impact Hub Milan, Impact Hub Stockholm, Impact Hub Vienna, Impact Hub King’s Cross, Oksigen Lab and Pefondes.eu.
*Original content created by Devi Clark Scaling Manager at Impact Hub Kings Cross