OK, this hasn’t actually happened! But Ashoka thinks it might. And we do too. At the Startup Camp Berlin, Dennis Hoenig-Ohnesorg got out his crystal ball to predict the future of social business for Germany and beyond. Here are his top predictions for the next 10 years of social entrepreneurship:

German Ministry for the Social Economy

Since 2012 France has had a Minister for Social Economy, which effectively gives social business its own ministry. What with Social Business currently being volleyed between the Ministry for Families, Ministry for Economic Affairs and a range of other departments without anyone scoring a point, it seems like it will soon need to find a new home in Germany too.

Philanthropy Dies

But don’t worry, it will be reincarnated! Not as a rat but as an Impact Investment! What is the point in giving money away at a 100% loss, when you can invest for a 0% (or slightly higher) return and then reinvest the money for another great cause. Philanthropy won’t disappear completely because not everything is investable but it will diminish in favour of investments which keep giving. Along these lines, public spending will also become more impact driven.

Hybrid Legal Entities 

It’s a bit difficult to make this one sound exciting but it will make the lives of social entrepreneurs considerably easier. Basically the German Tax office (yawn) has a problem with organisations which function like both a business (for-profit) and a charity at the same time. In fact they are not really allowed. Which is why most social businesses are actually a business AND a charity (i.e. need to run two separate entities). A lot of work and very intransparent. That will go in favour of a hybrid business form designed especially with us in mind.

Startup Funding also for Social Entrepreneurs 

At the moment the focus of startup funding in Germany lies in “innovative technology-based ideas”. Well, that’s just super if your social startup happens to be an app, but since there are lots of human problems that cant be solved by a computer, we need alternatives. And we will have them by 2025 (actually a LOT earlier) there will be programmes like EXIST for social startups and indeed the whole startup sector will have opened its doors to social startups. Just as the big accelerators in Silicon Valley like Y-Combinator always accept at least one social startup in each round, so we are expecting German ones to follow suit very soon (hello Pro7, hi Plug and Play, what’s up Hub:Raum).

Transfer Agencies

There will be people who’s job it is to simply take successful social business models and transfer them, in whichever way is best, to other regions and other countries. Right now organisations like OpenTransfer are doing a brilliant job but there isn’t enough money in it to really scale it up. That is going to change. Ching Ching!

Accelerator Programmes in Welfare Organisations

It’s not their fault. Welfare organisations, just like big corporations, get to a size and structure where it is simply difficult to be innovative. Just like Axel Springer and Facebook invest in or even buy up smaller companies to keep them competitive, so will welfare organisations. They have the expertise, money and infrastructure to scale these innovations anyway, so it will be a win-win. Check out Ashoka’s award-winning co-creation with Malteser.

A Social Innovation Park in Your Hometown

We like this one ‘cos it’s a bit wacky. You know those really ugly technology parks which somebody thought it would be a good idea to stick on the edge of every major town? Well, they will in 10 years time sit alongside Social Innovation Parks which will be much more beautiful (OK, we added that bit) and house the greatest minds in sustainable development, urban planning and social policy. Why? Because they are going to help cities to reduce their public spending and increase the quality of life of their inhabitants - meaning that more people will want to live there. Come on Berlin, do it first before Munich or Hamburg sneak up on us from behind.

10% of Every News Bulletin will be Solution-Oriented

Ever noticed how depressed you feel after watching the news? Understandable, because virtually all that is ever reported is problems and - although there are tons of people working on solutions - these rarely get the visibility they deserve. If a charity does feature, it is often when desperately reacting to a natural catastrophe it is struggling to get to grips with. Not representative of what is really going on out there in the world of socent.

Berlin is #1 City in the World for Social Innovation

Well, we all know that this is going to happen. Right? I mean, where else? Even The Guardian is on to us. Berlin has been at the pivot of some serious world-changing moments in the past, and now it is time to use its influence for good. It has the people, the creativity and the will. It is going to happen. 

Originally published April 18, 2015

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