“We want to be opportunity providers for integration”

It has certainly drawn a lot of capacity and brought ups and downs. I was positively surprised that the investors paid a lot of attention to our impact this time. Before we became a nonprofit in 2016, we tended to deal with commercial funders who didn't understand the core of our model and saw the social aspect as a marketing gimmick. In this respect, it was a very nice experience to find impact investors who share our vision and for whom we don't have to bend over backwards.

Were you also confronted with concerns?

What surprised us a lot is that many investors are not yet ready for impact investing. They are interested, but act more according to the motto: either donate and the money is gone, or invest and then really earn money. The great thing about impact investing is that you can generate social impact more than once with one Euro. That's what we liked so much about working with FASE: the investors in the network already understood this principle. In addition, we and the other FASE clients inspire people to overcome this mental and sometimes administrative hurdle. We have funding partners who have told us they would like to make an impact investment instead of a donation in the next round of funding.

Has the hybrid funding mix of loans and donations worked for you??

Absolutely. We find this model very exciting, especially since it also takes some of the pressure off us. Donations reduce lenders' risk and donors are happy that impact investors believe in return of capital. This win-win-win situation gives everyone more security.

"The great thing about impact investing is that you can generate social impact more than once with one euro. That's what we liked so much about working with FASE: the investors in the network already understood this principle."

Your impact topic, job integration of refugees, is still red-hot, but is also discussed controversially in society. What were the reactions to your PR campaign, in which Stroer and Jung von Matt supported you pro bono??

Predominantly very positive. We knew from the beginning that not everyone would like our campaign, but we wanted to stimulate social discourse and change the perception of refugees. Many refugees are strong, have been through a lot and want to prove themselves and get involved. Through the campaign we got a lot of support and found new cooperation partners. There is always a bit of hostility from the right and the left. But everything has remained within a healthy framework and has also provided much-needed discussion.

What would you say is the special feature that makes your solution so effective??

The secret recipe is that Social Bee is an employer. We take direct responsibility for the jobs instead of just providing advice and support. This reduces bureaucracy for companies and equalizes opportunities for local and refugee workers. It also improves our access to both sides. A second special feature is that we dock very close to the company's value chain. Many changemakers think they need to revolutionize the entire system right away. We rather use it and change small elements in it. Social Bee takes the classic temporary employment model and adds the new mechanisms of integration, support and qualification. This allows us to reach companies easily and quickly and to get refugees into work in a very low-threshold way.

Is this resource-intensive approach also the limit of your solution??

For sure. We cannot be active in every city immediately. We have to meet legal requirements and expand step by step. We have to turn down a lot of requests to implement our model in other places because it doesn't scale that quickly. In the long term, however, franchise models or cooperations with other temporary employment agencies are a possibility.

You have just become an Ashoka Fellow and the topic of system change plays a central role there. Is your goal to inspire companies to eventually map your service themselves?

Exactly. We want to give companies the impetus to hire refugees themselves. With our activities, we are proving, so to speak, that the effort is less than expected and companies are gaining great employees. We want to change mindsets, but we are also not the only solution to this social problem. The primary goal of our PR campaign was therefore to create awareness of the great potential of refugees. Social Bee sets an example on a small scale and creates more touch points with the community. This automatically increases the acceptance of refugees – a snowball effect.

"Many changemakers think they need to revolutionize the entire system right away. We rather use it and change small elements in it. Social Bee sets an example on a small scale and creates more points of contact with society. This automatically increases the acceptance of refugees – a snowball effect."

And how do you see the controversies around temporary work?

We would like to bring about a change in thinking there as well. By offering a comprehensive integration and qualification concept for our employees, we are setting new standards in temporary employment. This is where Social Bee is the most advanced in the industry. We already have corporate clients who see temporary staffing in a whole new light and have been very reluctant to work with it before because its reputation is so bad. By doing this, our model radiates beyond refugees and creates impact for all workers.

What are your next entrepreneurial steps and what support would you like to see for them?

We will implement our model in Stuttgart from April 2018. This is a very exciting scaling step for me because it's the first big space outside of Munich that we're tackling. My big goal is that we can be active nationwide. In addition, we are also sitting down with other temporary employment agencies and considering what the right lean scaling model might look like for the future. For this we also need courageous companies that want to use our model to hire employees. Government support would also be very nice for further care and qualification projects. So far, we still finance ourselves exclusively through our corporate customers.

Actually, the state would gain a lot by supporting your solution after all?

Yes, that's why in the long term I also find a social impact bond very exciting as a funding model. Impact investors go ahead and provide evidence that our solution has strong impact and efficiency, after which the state could expand it further. This would be an ideal growth opportunity for us that also multiplies social impact.

What tips would you have for social entrepreneurs who would like to attract impact investors. What to do and what to avoid?

What has helped me and my co-founder Max a lot is that we both bring a lot of business expertise to the table. We had all the documents very well prepared and we were also very confident about our numbers. Our investors have given us feedback that we have been very professional in our approach. These are confidence-building measures that go over very well with such investors. As a social entrepreneur, you should therefore take this part a bit more seriously, and possibly get training or external help. In impact investing, both have to fit, impact and profitability. Getting involved with impact measurement and building the impact staircase consistently therefore also plays a big role. Field hockey stick planning should also be left alone. Being realistic with your plans is definitely a success factor.

What is your dream for Social Bee in 10 years??

That we do not only bring refugees, but also other people with social disadvantages into work. We want to be a provider of integration opportunities and a stepping stone.

"We need bold companies that want to use our model to hire employees."

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