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First follow-up meeting social entrepreneurship for food security mapping

The Social Entrepreneurship Support for Food Security (SES4Food) initiative aims at increasing the potential of social entrepreneurship for food security in developing countries, to strengthen their ecosystem and make them flourish in increasing food security. During a first meet-up, a group of engaged Dutch professionals working in social entrepreneurship in low- and middle- income countries held a useful exchange and came up with concrete advice on how to jointly take this initiative a step further. Read the full report here.

Mid-July 2017, a group of 18 engaged Dutch professionals working in social entrepreneurship and/or agrofood in LMICs gathered in the Impact Hub Amsterdam. The purpose of the meeting was to start a dialogue on how to jointly and individually create the best conditions for social entrepreneurs in developing countries and their support organizations to make them flourish and be effective in increasing food security. The multi-stakeholder group consisted of representatives from the Ministries of Foreign and Economic Affairs, accelerators, NGOs, impact and innovation hubs, incubators and finance and knowledge institutes.

Mapping project
This first meet-up aimed to discuss the further development of the SES4Food initiative. This initiative is a follow-up on the recommendations from the F&BKP/SocietyWorks mapping project on social entrepreneurs working in the food value chain including their support organizations in seven partner countries, Ghana, Benin, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Kenya, Bangladesh and Indonesia.

The mapping synopsis report shows that half of the 150 social entrepreneurs received neither financial nor non-financial support from professional regional, national or international organizations or institutes. This results from the following facts: social entrepreneurs working outside the main cities are less connected with professional support organizations; there is a mismatch between top-down support and bottom-up needs; and the non-existence of a network and awareness about available support outside the own community is a challenge. The conclusion is that many support programmes are offering good support, but act as isolated islands; there is no coordination to reach out beyond the usual suspects.

The need for working together
Participants of the meeting generally recognized that the SES4Food initiative should be a joint effort of key stakeholders. They underlined the emerging issues as addressed in the synopsis report and the potential to link existing social entrepreneurial support initiatives to a group of entrepreneurial, innovative thinking people who aim to make impact for their rural communities, but who operate mainly in informal structures and networks.

During the meeting, led by Ard Hordijk, most of the participants expressed the need for working together more closely in the future. The question was how to organize this within SES4Food. The initiative aims to bring together support organizations, social entrepreneurs and other actors in the wider ecosystem in each country of the mapping project. In so-called “Communities of Action”, they will identify key barriers in the ecosystem of social entrepreneurs and develop and execute concrete action plans to address these barriers. Each organization will use the resources and unique qualities that are already available to them to play their role in executing the action plans. By doing this the different organizations will become closer working partners in creating the best ecosystem for social entrepreneurs working on food security.

Suggestions for SES4Food and potential contributions by participants
All the participants gave advice on next steps for further development of the SES4Food initiative, which clustered can be summarized as:
  1. Fit it in already existing support and coordination structures.
  2. Work with a clear vision and mission and measure the impact.
  3. Work lean and mean, open, locally driven and non-hierarchical.
Participants saw many opportunities to incorporate the initiative in their activities, including helping to be part of the strategic partnership; bringing people and (local) organizations together; connecting with a food challenge; providing an existing crowdfunding and crowdsourcing platform; connecting with Dutch financial policy instruments; helping build the pilot; connecting with Dutch key policy makers to plug the initiative to existing programmes; connecting with diaspora students also as crowd funders; thinking along on the set up, indicators and value proposition of the initiative based on recent work and studies; and connecting to existing country network activities and relevant upcoming embassy and other activities in the partner countries.

The positive outcome of the first meet-up results in a second meet-up in the autumn, in which participants will work on developing a concrete Business Model for SES4FOOD together with local teams (“LinkingPins”) in several developing countries.

Read here the report of the first meet-up held on 14 July 2017.

Download here the presentation of Evert-jan Quak on the outcomes of the mapping project.

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