Stephanie Schmidt

A Call to Action for Greater Co-Creation Between Social and Business: Collaborative competition aims to forge relationships between pioneers in this space

We live in a world of harsh social and environmental challenges, hyper competition and accelerating change. Beyond developing countries, regions such as Europe have been facing an unprecedented level of unemployment, growing poverty, government deficits and low GDP growth. No player – whether government, social entrepreneur, non-profit, or business – can address these challenges alone.

While many are trying hard to address these issues, most efforts are still siloed and thus lack sustainability and scale. Social entrepreneurs and social-mission organizations are looking to create greater social impact. Businesses are looking for growth, and for ways to remain competitive and motivate their employees by giving them a sense of purpose. Public institutions are looking for cost-effective approaches to deliver their programs and services. It starts to get really interesting when traditional frontiers between organizations from different sectors start to blur, going beyond the conventional tensions between social-mission and profit-making organizations, uncovering win-win opportunities and leveraging complementary strengths and expertise.

In order to source, highlight and catalyze the most innovative co-creation projects in Europe led by social-mission organizations, corporations and companies, and public institutions, Ashoka, the Zermatt Summit Foundation, Fondation Guilé, DPD and Boehringer Ingelheim have launched an online collaborative competition called Social & Business Co-Creation: collaboration for impact. We are searching for projects:

• That address a societal issue with the potential to do so at scale
• Where lead partnering organizations bring complementary distinct and essential expertise to the co-creation project beyond just funding
• That are linked to the core mission/business of partners and should result in tangible results for each party

These bold projects will be concrete illustrations of how leadership, management practices and organizational structures are evolving to create shared value for multiple types of partners. Several examples of social and business co-creation in Europe are demonstrating the virtual effect of social-mission organizations and “traditional companies” working together. Ashoka Fellow Saïd Hammouche, who founded the non-profit hiring agency Mozaïk RH, recently entered a partnership with leading HR company Adecco, in France. For Said, being able to leverage Adecco’s 170 agencies in France to promote his services is a way to serve more young people who are victims of discrimination, and advance towards his goal of multiplying his current impact tenfold.

Switching to the financial industry, social entrepreneur Jean-Louis Kiehl from Cresus has established a collaboration platform with financial institutions to identify individuals at risk of over-indebtedness, and to offer them budget coaching and education to avoid arriving at a point of crisis.

We can all play a role in amplifying this meaningful and emerging co-creation trend. Please help us spread the word about the competition and invite projects to participate before April 10. This is an opportunity for these projects to join a community of like-minded individuals and forge relationships with other pioneers in the space. Competition entries will be assessed based on their innovation, social impact (current and potential), sustainability and interaction model among partners. The winners of the competition will receive €20,000 ($27, 826 USD), with two runner-up prizes of €10,000 ($13, 913 USD) each. Winners will be announced at the Zermatt Summit on June 27th in Zermatt, Switzerland and will be featured in prominent media.

Visit to enter the competition, read about participating projects and offer feedback to enrich these projects. You can follow the competition on Twitter using the hashtag #SocBizCoCreation.

Stéphanie Schmidt (@StephMexico) is leading Ashoka’s Full Economic Citizenship initiative in Mexico, engaging social and business entrepreneurs to innovate to address needs from marginalized populations.

Education, Social Enterprise
business development, poverty alleviation, scale, social enterprise