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Social and sustainable entrepreneurship: for a sustainable economy
Are you looking to develop a social or sustainable business idea in NRW? Do you have a business model but need help with business planning and finding funding? Do you want to connect with like-minded people and get off to a flying start in NRW? If you’re keen to get an overview of this form of setting up and managing a business, you’re in the right place!
What is social or sustainable entrepreneurship?
Social and sustainable entrepreneurship refers to economic activities that aim to solve social or environmental challenges through entrepreneurial approaches. In the case of companies aimed at contributing to the common good, the focus is on creating a high level of social added value. At the same time, the business models must be economically viable.
Social and sustainable North Rhine-Westphalia
According to Deutscher Startup Monitor, start-ups are increasingly seeing themselves as social enterprises and contributing to sustainable development. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia has set itself the goal of embracing this trend: the aim is to make NRW an attractive location for social and environmental start-ups and companies
Who funds social and sustainable start-ups?
If your goal is to set up a business aimed at contributing to the common good, you can obtain assistance from the Startercenter NRW located in many towns in North Rhine-Westphalia. At the Startercenter NRW you can get free, bespoke advice in your locality, along with assistance regarding specific economic or legal issues. We have experienced start-up consultants ready to assist you with the formalities and financing of your project. Make an appointment for a one-to-one consultation and find a contact near you. Most importantly: the state government’s start-up support programmes, such as the Gründerstipendium.NRW award, are also open to founders of companies aimed at contributing to the common good. We can assist you with this as well.
The state government is funding the Circular Valley project with the aim of turning the Rhine-Ruhr region into a hub for the circular economy. Among other things, Circular Valley runs an accelerator programme at the Wuppertal site for start-ups involved in the circular economy. In addition, the state government funds the Global Entrepreneurship Center (GEC). The GEC is targeted at deep tech start-ups involved in sustainability and that show significant potential for upscaling. These start-ups should operate in the following areas:
Food and agriculture
Construction and housing
You’ll find plenty of other actors in NRW, including the following:
These organisations are ready to assist you with information, events and funding for your project.
For an overview of funding sources and current events on social and sustainable entrepreneurship near you, check the interactive map at gründen.nrw.
Which other financing and funding instruments are open to social and environmental start-ups?
The specialists at NRW.BANK can help with any questions you may have around financing and will prepare you for the finance meeting at the principal bank. For example, you will receive advice on:
The clarity of your business plan
Information on networks, accelerators and competitors
Other information regarding financing
NRW.BANK also offers funding programmes to help finance your start-up: these include the NRW.Mikrodarlehen [micro-loans] programme, which is offered in collaboration with the Startercenters, and the NRW.MicroCrowd [crowdfunding] programme. The latter has been developed especially for social and environmental start-ups and is offered in collaboration with the crowdfunding platform Startnext.
There are also other programmes that social enterprises can apply to. You can find out more using NRW.BANK’s funding advice service.
Start-ups that are specifically dedicated to the environmental economy can get assistance from and in North Rhine-Westphalia through the Gründungswettbewerb KUER competition for start-ups. Experts and coaches from sectors such as climate, environment, energy efficiency and resource conservation provide help with founding a business, from the concept to market launch.
Who supports existing companies with social responsibility?
The state of North Rhine-Westphalia supports companies that are already actively involved in corporate social responsibility, or that want to focus more on this. NRW promotes CSR Competence Centres for this purpose. The state-wide hub for business and digital responsibility, CSR.digital, serves as a central point of contact for companies in North Rhine-Westphalia. It is the first centre of excellence of its kind in Germany – and the ideal partner for start-ups, too. The platform encourages small and medium-sized businesses in particular to develop a long-term strategy around economic, environmental, digital and social issues. The aim is to promote innovative products, services and business models.
As part of its services, CSR.digital offers a wide-ranging programme:
Live interviews on best practices
In addition, there is an extensive network of businesses with expertise in digitalisation, sustainability and responsibility.
CSR and sustainability are likewise topics with strong links to the region. The Ostwestfalen-Lippe region, for instance, has its own CSR centre of excellence, CSR 4.0, which focuses on digitalisation and corporate responsibility. CSR 4.0 supports start-ups as well as small and medium-sized enterprises in Ostwestfalen-Lippe through the following initiatives:
Developing a customised CSR strategy
Defining responsible corporate goals
If you want to find out more about social and sustainable entrepreneurship topics such as impact measurement, business models and legal structures, take a look at the Gründerplattform platform.