Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus inaugurated the European Social Business Forum in Utrecht, Netherlands on 12 April. The EBSF is the annual gathering of the European social business community. It serves to spread awareness of social business, to foster discussion and collaboration amongst social business initiatives, and to conceptualise best practices among companies, governments, entrepreneurs, civil society and academia to shape the future economic and social system. It also explores how to leverage far-reaching advances in science and technology to impact on relevant communities.
First held in Germany, the European Social Business Forum took place in Sweden and Norway over successive years. In 2016, the ESBF, was held in Utrecht, Netherlands, attracting over 250 participants from more than 27 countries across Europe and beyond. Social business experts, entrepreneurs, academics, policy makers and investors were invited to join for an inspiring day over the European social business ecosystem and its future. A diverse program offered participants plenty of opportunity to share experiences, exchange ideas and further develop the social business movement in Europe.
The forum was organized by Hans Reitz, CEO of The Grameen Creative Lab in partnership with Utrecht University. It took place within the framework of the Social Entrepreneurship Festival hosted by Utrecht University.
The agenda was filled with sessions addressing questions that social business entrepreneurs are facing every day: Which financing instruments can effectively support social business? How can we scale social business ideas to increase impact? Which obstacles and dilemmas do social business entrepreneurs face? Other interactive sessions provided the opportunity to work on ideas in the area of education, global value chain, and the refugee crisis. Some others focused on ecosystems for social business or social business and institutional change. These topics were discussed in eight parallel sessions in smaller groups that enabled a more interactive and hands-on approach.
Franck Riboud (Chairman, Danone Group) and Emmanuel Faber (CEO, Danone Group) joined Professor Muhammad Yunus in a panel discussion on “Social Business – the Present and Future”. Another high-profile panel discussion focused on finance and social business with Saskia Bruysten (CEO Yunus Social Business Global Initiatives), Eric Buckens (Director ABN AMRO Social Impact Investments), Harry Hummels (Professor of Social Entrepreneurship Utrecht University) and Hans Reitz discussing the issue at hand.
As part of the European Social Business Forum, Prof. Yunus also made a public speech at Louis Hartlooper Complex addressing an audience interested in social business.
During his stay, Mayor of Utrecht J.H.C. van Zanen called on Professor Yunus. The Mayor admired the concept of social business, and expressed his intention of taking steps to make Utrecht a Social Business City, creating a social business fund within that framework to support social businesses as well as finance young people with equity to create their own enterprises. The Utrecht University also joined the Social Business Academia Network and will participate in the Academia Conference that will take place in Paris on 9-10 November, 2016.
Utrecht university announced that they will set up a Social Business centre to facilitate the study and practice of social business. During the European Social Business Forum, it was announced that the 7th Social Business Day will be held on July 28-29, 2016 in Dhaka, Bangladesh and the Social Business Academia Conference will be held on November 9-10, 2016 in Paris, France.
Source: Weekly Holiday