Social Entrepreneurship has become increasingly popular during the last few years with over half of the social enterprises in the US founded in 2006 or later. Also, the CDTM is focusing more and more on the social aspects of businesses and how to have a positive impact on our planet, health, or the society as a whole. Recent examples include SVYVE – a sustainability initiative in cooperation with KPMG – or the CDTM Climate Club.
Before we dive deeper into our recent project, we want to clarify what exactly “Social Entrepreneurship” is: At the most basic level, Social Entrepreneurship can be described as “doing business for a social cause”. This is not a particularly new concept as e.g. non-profit organizations have existed since the 1900s. However, in recent years “Social Enterprises” have evolved.
Social Enterprises want to combine both – social impact and profit – and thus lie in between traditional non-profit organizations and purely profit-oriented businesses. These social businesses aim at generating revenues through thought out business models while profits are usually reinvested into the company. This allows them to overcome the struggles of raising funds through e.g. donations that non-profit organizations often face.
In an effort to dive deeper into social entrepreneurship in the health sector, the CDTM organized a Social Health Entrepreneurship Elective in Munich together with the Social Entrepreneurship Akademie (SEA) and EIT Health, who funded this course. During workshops, we learned about the success factors of social enterprises, examined various health issues we face today and developed first ideas to solve these.
What is the Social Entrepreneurship Akademie?
“Education for social change.” This slogan brought the four university-based entrepreneurship centers in Munich together (UnternehmerTUM GmbH, the LMU Entrepreneurship Center, the Center for Technology and Innovation Management at Bundeswehr University Munich (CeTIM) and the Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship (sce) at Munich University of Applied Sciences). In 2010 the Social Entrepreneurship Akademie (SEA) was established as a joint initiative with the aim to educate social changemakers. Today, SEA has already supported 136 social startups that are tackling societal issues, such as social mobility, sustainable consumption or migration.
They offer different courses like the SEA:certificate program, the SEA:lab and the Global Entrepreneurship Summer School (SEA:gess), in which students have the opportunity to spend a week abroad in Munich, Shanghai, Cape Town or Querétaro. To sum up, SEA offers an array of opportunities and is a guiding compass for social entrepreneurship enthusiasts in Munich.
What did we do throughout the Social Entrepreneurship Course?
During the intense and inspiring two-day workshop, the SEA:start, we were introduced to the concepts of social entrepreneurship in the context of healthcare. We had the chance to work closely together with social entrepreneurship enthusiasts coming from different backgrounds and open our mind to new ways of innovation. We realized how important it is to consider the triple bottom line (TBL), social, environmental and economical sustainability, when starting a new venture and learned how to measure impact.
We analyzed the CDTM health start-up Climedo Health together with one of its founders Veronika Schweighart as a live-case and started right away into a guided business model ideation session in the context of healthcare.
After having developed and refined our solution, we pitched our product to the CA team to get and include their feedback. We wanted CDTM to be the first place where our solution would be integrated.
A social entrepreneurship solution for mental health issues
In a world full of opportunities, but also challenges there is an increasing rate of students feeling stressed and under pressure, which often leads to depression. Students compare themselves and their achievements to the ones around them and tend to undermine their own efforts. In very competitive environments it is very difficult to talk about this topic, because people do not want to show weakness. For this reason, depression and other related mental health issues fall into taboo topics between students and young adults.
Having identified this problem, our team of Centerlings focused on mental health issues by tackling the ever-increasing stress and pressure caused by over-performing among students. That’s how heart in the dark came to life, an interactive guide for groups of students between 18 and 29 years to help them self-reflect by sharing their feelings and fears in a trusted environment. By creating this safe space for students to express their feelings, we hope to prevent them from falling into depression or other mental health problems.
heart in the dark
When founding a social venture, the main goal is to solve a societal problem, while at the same time being financially sustainable. For this reason, also our team looked into the financials of heart in the dark and how to make it a profitable business. We agreed on creating an interactive box that would include a guide and different objects and elements to help to start the conversation about this topic and students to open up to each other and share their feelings and emotions.
The team will pilot heart in the dark at CDTM with an aspiration to positively impact students and hopefully empower the innovators of tomorrow.