Where better to reflect on the interface between social provision and enterprising solutions than Berlin?
We arrived to snow & spent a chilly whirlwind of a week visiting neighbourhoods, local authorities, social enterprises and really getting a feel for the challenges and opportunities for social entrepreneurs in the capital city of Europe’s most prosperous nation.
We visited the site of the Berlin Wall at Bernauer Strasse and learned how the history of the city, its politics and demography have contributed to its particular challenges and how social enterprises are seeking to address these. We heard from Nemona, a social enterprise that links women from marginalised communities who have the skills to produce fashion items with designers and marketers who are often their neighbours in a nearby district. We visited Publixphere, an online and offline facilitation enterprise that gets people talking about public issues. Germany values political education, awareness and dialogue highly – maybe this is something we should pay more attention to in the UK. And we spent a day with Zukunftsbau, a family of organisations which combines private enterprise and social purpose structures to provide employment training for disadvantaged young people, manufacture high-end fitted kitchens, and deliver consultancy, facilitation and training. There’s no German CIC equivalent, so you have to be creative with legal structures as well as with the work itself!
One of the themes of the week was the role of networks in creating and supporting the ecosystem in which social enterprises can thrive. We’re pleased to say that Plymouth is considered to be leading the way in this and developing it further is high on our list of strategic priorities.