Panel discussion:improving general conditions for social entrepreneurs through dialogue

MUNICH/BERLIN. Companies and social entrepreneurs can learn a lot from one another if they meet at eye level. This was discovered yesterday by around 50 representatives from business, politics and society during a panel discussion organised by the non-profit association UPJ and Telefónica Germany. The question "Business partnerships and digital work: must-haves for successful social entrepreneurs!?" was the focus of the debate at Telefónica's Berlin branch.
Chaired by the editor in chief of the magazine enorm, Thomas Friemel, the discussion panel was made up of Dr Hartmut Kopf, head of the World Vision Institut für Forschung und Innovation ("World Vision Institute for Research and Innovation"), Carolin Silbernagl, chair of the board and co-founder of dotHIV, Nadine Schön, Member of the German Bundestag, Norbert Kunz, managing director of iq consult, and Tanja Kufner, director of the Wayra Academy Germany at Telefónica in Germany. Telefónica Germany had invited these panellists in order to enter into dialogue with them. On the panel, Hartmut Kopf started by depicting the huge opportunities as well as the challenges that lie in partnerships between companies and social entrepreneurs: "Social institutions have learnt a lot from classic businesses in the last few years and become much more professional. Social entrepreneurs are experts when it comes to working in difficult conditions - a skill that classic businesses also have to improve. This is what makes cooperation so exciting. However, it is important that social entrepreneurs retain their identity in the process. This is the only way for them to remain attractive as partners." Nadine Schön referred to the potential offered by cooperation from a political perspective: "In Germany we are committed to the social market economy - social entrepreneurs will give us new dynamism in this regard. I think that the founder scene in Berlin and elsewhere is very exciting, but social and business-oriented players must come even closer together. This applies both to economic and social politicians and to business-focused and social companies." Norbert Kunz emphasised what a key role digital technologies play in the dynamics of social business models: "Social entrepreneurs solve society's problems using entrepreneurial means. The digital world offers them new problem-solving techniques that we never suspected 10 to 15 years ago. I estimate that 75 percent of social entrepreneurs use digital technology as a part of problem solving." In the "Wayra" programme, Telefónica relies on the innovative strength of digital technologies, as Tanja Kufner underlined: "We are currently supporting around 175 young founders worldwide, including some social entrepreneurs. I find their ideas and dynamic nature inspiring. For this reason, we are thinking about taking social business models into consideration at Wayra. The needs of classic and social entrepreneurs are often not very different, particularly at the founding stage - and it's here that we can help with know-how and financial investments." Carolin Silbernagl reported on the challenges that social entrepreneurs face when founding a company. "We are reliant on support. We need legal expertise in contract negotiations and premises have to be financed. I'm sure that if there were more offers of support, we would see even more social enterprises founded. And we'd all benefit from this ultimately." Participants from the audience also saw the mutual transfer of knowledge as a potential lever for increasing the range and effect of social innovations. How this can succeed on a practical level is also the focus of an online debate at All interested parties can get involved up to 28 November 2012.
Telefónica Deutschland Holding AG, listed at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in the Prime Standard, and its wholly-owned, operationally active subsidiary Telefónica Germany GmbH & Co. OHG belong to Telefónica Europe and are part of the Spanish telecommunication group Telefónica S.A. The company offers its German private and business customers post-paid and prepaid mobile telecom products as well as innovative mobile data services based on the GPRS, UMTS and LTE technologies with its product brand O2. In addition, the integrated communications provider also offers DSL fixed network telephony and high-speed internet. Telefónica Europe has more than 105 million mobile and fixed network customers in Spain, Great Britain, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany. UPJ is a network of committed businesses and non-profit intermediary organisations in Germany. It focuses on projects that make a contribution towards resolving social problems by creating new links between companies, non-profit organisations and public authorities. The non-profit UPJ e.V. also supports these parties by providing information and advice on the development and implementation of their corporate citizenship and corporate social responsibility activities.