One of the beautiful things about podcasts is that all that is needed is the human voice. The human voice is a simple and powerful medium for stories. And the human voice can travel all over the world without its owner having to travel as well. In the midst of the crisis caused by the Covid19, with travel seriously restricted, this ease of production is a real boon. Empower-SE can keep the conversation going, even if conferences had to be cancelled.
This second episode of the Empower-SE podcast series looks at how social enterprise is shaping key industries such as health and social services, migrant integration, and culture and the arts. It tries to capture and expand some of the findings and stories shared during the COST workshops devoted to these fields:
- In Trento, Italy (“Tackling the migration and refugee challenge”, November 2018);
- In Frankfurt, Germany (“Social enterprise in social and health services”, February 2019); and
- In La Valletta, Malta (“Unlocking the transformative potential of culture and the arts through social enterprise”, November 2019).
We were able to revisit some of the discussions of those workshops thanks to the generous participation of researchers and practitioners:
- Nicole Göler von Ravensburg, professor of Socio-economics at the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences;
- Alexander Tränkmann, gastronomy manager in Mainz, Germany, and a spokesperson for the Embrace Hotels Cooperative;
- Leila Giannetto, researcher at FIERI (International and European Forum on Migration Research);
- Rob Trimble, Chief Executive of the Bromley by Bow Centre (London, UK);
- Linda Lundgaard Andersen, professor at the Department of People and Technology and director of the Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Roskilde University in Denmark; and
- Jonas Hedegaard, PhD student at Roskilde University in Denmark.
Throughout this episode, it becomes evident that, in each of the three featured industries, grassroots social enterprise is very good at identifying new needs and providing creative responses to those. Under the pressure of the so called “refugee crisis”, amazing projects propelled by social enterprises popped up in Italy, as Leila Giannetto recalls. In the context of the current crisis, this should be taken into account by policy makers and stakeholders, so that these responses can emerge with minimum constraints.
Nicole Göler van Ravensburg reminds us that this crisis has revealed the “system relevant workers” – those performing care and cleaning activities, who are often underpaid and rely on short-term contracts or no contract at all. Will these workers and activities take up a new space in our society, and what will the role of social enterprise be in those transformations?
But if social enterprise can provide relief and even realign the status quo in response to crisis, it can also suffer from it. This episode features two examples of social enterprise in the hospitality sector: Hotel Giardino, which employs migrants, and the Embrace Hotels Cooperative, which promotes employment for people with disabilities.
Hotels are of course greatly affected by the pandemic. The INNdependence Hotel in Mainz, Germany (member of the Embrace Hotels Coop) became a temporary shelter for homeless people, fully embracing its solidarity mission when confronted with the new needs triggered by the crisis. But the future of this hotel is very uncertain…
This podcast episode is about 40 minutes long and it is packed with insights and stories. Use your podcast app to subscribe to the Empowering Social Enterprise Research Podcast or visit the Podcast page to listen to it.