A Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs in Europe

EVZ strives to help all social entrepreneurs gain access to funding, but they need our help.

von Lydia Massey, January 4, 2018

We all know how difficult it is to get funding. The Foundation Remembrance, Responsibility and Future wants to simplify this. However, in order to do so and also meet our needs, they need our support. Please take part in their survey.

In this interview with the initiator, Dr. Andreas Eberhardt, we learn more about the foundation and the planned Accelerator.

Tell us a bit about the EVZ.

The EVZ supports civil society projects that are value-driven, focusing primarily on Central and Eastern Europe, Israel, and the USA. Founded in 2000, the primary objective was to make payments to former forced labourers from the Second World War.

Today, we are engaged in three areas of activity: historical political education, the promotion of human rights and democracy, and humanitarian aid. In addition, we are constantly trying to find new formats of support in order to remain up-to-date and credible in our work as a funding institution for urgent civil society questions. 

Why do you want to support digital initiatives for human rights and democracy with an Accelerator programme?

The Accelerator, which we are planning in Prague, fits exactly into the nook I just mentioned. We too, have recognized the potential of social entrepreneurship when it comes to pushing social change. Clearly, we are not the only, and definitely not the first supporters in this area, but we want to build the Accelerator in close consultation with the Tech Community to ensure that we meet the needs of the people we want to support with the offerings of Accelerator.

In addition, we hope that through this project we will gain experience in modern sponsorship, integrate fascinating people into the work of our foundation, and learn and grow together.

What inspired you to do this?

I had already met Katharina Dermühl and Geraldine de Bastion, who are advising us in the design and development of the Accelerator, in 2015. We worked together on the project "Living Future" from the German Israeli Future Forum. From these two women, I learned what is possible in the social entrepreneurship sector and what an exciting field would be opened to us here as a funding institution.

The development of the Accelerator in Prague will be under the direction of Luisa Maria Schweizer, who together with other colleagues, is currently developing a series of innovative formats for our foundation.

I simply believe that this is a field that we can not neglect, if we want to remain a relevant actor in the field of supporting democracy.

What are your hopes for the pilot?

We hope that through the Accelerator we will be able to expand our target group to young, digitally-savvy people, who can benefit from the support of our foundation in the implementation of their projects. Now, even in the beginning stages of planning, I can imagine that some of the projects that will be funded in Prague will also have the possibility of further support.

Furthermore, through the Accelerator we would like to strengthen our networks, especially in Eastern and Central Europe, and better connect local (future) project partners also amongst themselves.

Why conduct this study? What assumptions are you testing? What would you like to find out?

In the development of all our programmes, it is always a big concern for us to bring the people onboard, who will benefit later. It does not help anyone if we are developing formats that look great from the perspective of the EVZ, but miss the mark for the target groups. And no one knows better what is needed and wanted, what is missing in the current funding landscape, or which needs have not yet been recognized, as the target group itself.

I was surprised to learn that these needs and experiences have never been extensively questioned. I believe that the findings will be very intriguing and will be an important resource not only for our project. This is why we decided in the very beginning of planning to make the results of the survey available as open-source.

Are there other foundations that support the ecosystems for social innovation?

Actually, the German-Israeli Future Forum (http://www.dizf.de) comes to mind, which I was able to lead before my time at the EVZ and has very much influenced my views today. The German-Israeli Future Forum supports young leaders from Germany and Israel in bilateral projects that are committed to the democratic shaping of our societies.

Originally published August 3, 2017