Silicon Luxembourg hosted its 7th apéro on April 17th at De Gudde Wëllen with a packed room. Mark Cheng of Ashoka Europe spoke about Social Entrepreneurship and imparted inspiring and unexpected information on attendees.
After opening words, Mr. Cheng and Charles-Louis, CEO at Silicon Luxembourg, held an hour-long Q&A session about social entrepreneurship. Attendees then had the opportunity to take the mic during a 15 minute “pitch session” during which anyone could pitch, ask questions, practice speaking, or share ideas.
“It’s not the size of the ecosystem that counts. It’s the density of its connections.”
Mr. Cheng discussed the ins and outs of social entrepreneurship, covering subjects ranging from the growing market, social entrepreneurship objectives, and insights on social effort investors. Here are some of the major takeaways:
Social entrepreneurs are not philanthropists or NGOs. Rather, they take a smaller percentage of profit in a for-profit organization and put the emphasis the mission behind the company. As an example, Mr. Cheng mentioned David Green, an American entrepreneur who cut the price of cataract lenses from hundreds of dollars to $4, providing a remedy to hundreds of thousands in India who would not otherwise be able to afford the material.
Luxembourg has the potential to become a major social entrepreneurship hub, but it will need the right people and the right investors.
Investors are often reluctant to fund entrepreneurs who openly promise a smaller ROI than full for-profit ventures.
Instead, many philanthropists have become types of social investors.
Angel Investors are one of the best sources to fund social entrepreneurs because they are more willing to take a risk for social impact.
Nevertheless, social investors in a proper form do exist. In response to a question from Aliénor Didier from the University Incubator, Mr. Cheng encouraged a very particular pitch method for social entrepreneurs. First, they must decide whether their efforts are mission led or profit led. Then, they must explain how the numbers will work out, and the time frame. Last, they must explain the value that their social effort will have—in other words, their impact.
Mr. Cheng finished the session by reminding us that size is not the source of innovation. “It’s not the size of the ecosystem that counts. It’s the density of its connections.”
And with that, Luxembourg has its call to action for Social Entrepreneurship.
Note that the next Startup Apéro will take place on May 15th. Guest speaker: Mark Tluszcz, CEO of Mangrove Capital Partners.