Social Entrepreneurship Forum in Riga: Journeys to Impact
by Adam Richards, Social Impacts Advisor at FRC Group and freelance social impacts analyst
The Social Entrepreneurship Forum in Riga brought together a group of social entrepreneurs, government officials, students and members of the press from the Baltic region, as well as a variety of international speakers. Held in the recently opened Latvian National Library, as with each year’s forum a central theme was selected owing to its current relevance in the Baltic states and beyond, and this year focused on understanding, measuring and applying the concept of impact.
Much of the Baltic region is still at a stage where discussions around the nature and definitions of social enterprise/entrepreneurship dominate, and with different legal challenges to face than other nations that are perhaps moving away from this issue, these look set to remain for at least the near-future. However, there was a clear awareness that whatever status the social economy has in the different countries, understanding social impacts would have a significant role to play in its future development.
Some regional countries such as Denmark reported that impact measurement was set to become a priority, whilst Sweden highlighted that SROI had been introduced, albeit without complete success, and most others indicated at least some form of social impacts analysis being undertaken. There are both challenges that these countries will need to overcome (that many others beyond the Baltics are still addressing), but equally the call to better understand and improve their impacts, and the opportunities that can be realised as a result of this, were understood by all.
The undisputable appetite to understand and make use of social impacts could leave no one in any doubt, that whilst some of the Baltic countries may have a small and embryonic social enterprise sector, they will develop very quickly in both their scale and understanding – watch this space!
Adam Richards is advisor on social impacts at the Furniture Resource Centre (FRC) Group in Liverpool, and has worked closely with them for almost ten years to help develop their use impact reporting. Adam is also a member of the SROI UK Council, and is currently working with a range of third-sector organisations to help them prove and improve on their social impacts.