Investment Readiness Program Call for Applications

If you are looking to raise more capital for your social business or impact venture, need support in becoming more funding ready or closing the next round of funding, Impact 2019 IRP Call is the right opportunity for your venture.

Investment Readiness Program is an intensive four month mentorship and support program for early stage social/impact ventures, consisting of pre-investment readiness program, pitching at Impact 2019 conference and post-investment readiness program, aiming to support ventures after the pitching process and during their negotiations for the next funding round.

Investment Readiness Program is part of the Impact 2019 Conference (organized by ACT Group, Brodoto and Foundation Mozaik in Belgrade, February 19-20, 2019), and will be delivered through joint partnership of Brodoto and Spring.

Call for Applications is open to  social businesses/impact-oriented ventures at early stage (pre-seed, seed, start-up), based in Western Balkans, South-East Europe and Central East Europe, offering solutions in the following fields: climate change and energy, children and education, migration and marginalized groups, agriculture, women employment and responsible consumption.

One can find more information and apply by January 5, 2019 at http://impactconference.net/impact-readiness-program.


Deloitte published Social Investment Leveraging Index

The world's pressing social problems cannot be solved neither by governments, philanthropists nor corporations on their own. Social investment brings diversity and innovation in funding solutions to societal challenges and by that helps to make the capital market more efficient.

In Central and Eastern European countries (CEE), social investment is becoming more and more important in nurturing and financing the growth of non-profits and social enterprises. These emerging markets have faced significant challenges in rebuilding their economies and social sectors simultaneously. Despite unprecedented fast integration with Western Europe, the process of transition revealed unaddressed social needs such as an aging population, inclusivity of vulnerable groups, disability, health issues, unemployment and many others.

The Deloitte Social Investment Leveraging Index (DSILI) developed by Deloitte in partnership with The European Venture Philanthropy Association - EVPA and Global Social Entrepreneurship Network - GSEN (that we are a member of) provides arguments on why supporting those service delivery organizations through social investment may yield significant social returns in Central and Eastern Europe. Showcasing the Social Investment Leverage across the four sub-regions in CEE (the Balkans, South Eastern Europe, the Baltics and the Visegrad Countries), this report argues that by investing in one of the countries of this region, one is contributing to the growth and development of an integrated Europe.

The ACT Group is listed as one of the key actors in the development of social innovations and investment in companies that generate social impact in the region (due to the acceleration, incubation and other support programs we are launching), and our member Social Cooperative Humana Nova has been selected as one of several case studies and examples of good practice that in the report illustrate the justification of investing in social influence.

At the end, the Report presents several concrete steps for potential private and institutional social investors to engage in developing a conducive social investment ecosystem.


ACT Group Impact Report 2017 has been published

ACT Group and its six member organisations implemented 21 projects in various areas (ecological agriculture, sustainable waste management, textile production, home care, education, design and printing, accounting and bookkeeping services, education, consulting and other services) for more then 15.000 direct beneficiaries in 2017.

We had total annual revenue of USD 1.413.194 (48% revenue from sales of goods and services) and all member organizations ended the year positively with profit after taxation of USD 45.138.

The return to the state budget (through contributions and wages, VAT, profit tax) amount was USD 211.857, or 41% more than received from direct state donations. Compared with the previous year, this represents anincrement by 28%.

43% of our 51 workers in total are in disadvantaged positions - for them we paid USD 221.901 in wages and salaries, of which only 22% were covered by subsidies for disadvantaged workers. The ratio between the lowest and the highest salary is 1:3,9, and USD 12.601 is each worker added value realized.

In 2017 187 persons volunteered 3.872 hours through a variety of intellectual and/or social services and physical work - volunteers contribution to the social value was USD 21.683. We created USD 750.133 of value for the local community, while we received only USD 48.266 (18: 1) from the local budget.

This is just a part of the consolidated Annual Report on the Social impact of the ACT Group and its members that has been released and can be downloaded here.

We used the Social Return of Investment (SROI) methodology to calculate how much social value was generated by using available resources (capital, time, infrastructure and others) over a year.

ACT Group was the first organization in Croatia that started measuring its social impact in 2013 and  we regularly publish our annual reports ever since. We'll continue with this practice, but we can also do it for all other stakeholders and social economy actors through the Social Value Croatia network we are about to launch.

All too often key decisions about resources and policies are made using a limited economic concept of value, which fails to consider important effects on people and the environment. As the gap between rich and poor increases and the effects of climate change become more apparent, our work has never been more urgent.

Feel free to contact us if you need more information on our work or how to measure your social impact.


The Business Skills Academy - cooperation between non-profit and business sector

Applications for The Business Skills Academy, our new program of education for managers in civil society organizations and social enterprises are open. Program will be organized as an innovative modular training program led by corporations' professionals.

The Academy was initiated by the School of Social Economy, an adult education institution owned by ACT Group, in collaboration with companies A1 Croatia, Erste Bank, INA, Philip Morris Zagreb and PwC Croatia.

The program will take place from November 2018 to May 2019 in Zagreb, and will include 10 lectures on management skills, decision making, planning, organization, communication, human resource management, management, sales, finance and social impact measurement given by 10 prominent experts from business sector.

The comprehensive curriculum is defined based on previous research among potential users, and fully meets the needs of bigger nonprofit organizations and social enterprises in Croatia.

One can apply at http://akademija.dp.hr/ till November 12 at noon.

For more information visit the website http://akademija.dp.hr or Facebook page www.facebook.com/AkademijaPoslovnihVjestina.


Punk Entrepreneurs on Tour

The book "Punk Entrepreneurs" published on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of ACT Group shows a raising interest of general public and media recently. The book was partially funded through crowdfunding campaign by 300 people and organizations.  One can read an interview that author Robert Posavec gave for the Novosti magazine, Stjepan's for the Poslovni Dnevnik or a talk that Igor, Stjepan and Robert had with the Nacional magazine journalist (all in Croatian, though).

We plan a whole series of book presentations and inspirational conversations about social/impact entrepreneurship in several cities in Croatia and the region for this autumn. At this moment we can announce events in Rijeka (OKC Palach, 6.9.2018, 18h, link), Pula (Community Center Rojc, 7.9.2018, 19h; link) and Varaždin (Medina Škrinja Pub, 11.9.2018, 18h; link).

"Punk Entrepreneurs" is the first Croatian book on social entrepreneurship and the struggle for a human economy, which former activists have successfully run in the north of Croatia for 15 years. The story is about two young men who, together with their friends and associates, launched tens of initiatives, conducted programs and projects that involved over 100.000 users and established various social enterprises that work successfully today.

The story brings a series of events that were not supposed to happen, but which authentically and openly talk about mistakes that may come in business, especially management. The story also brings successful moments of pride, and all together it provides many lessons to the reader. "Punk Entrepreneurs" is a book about entrepreneurship written in literary style, fun, sincere, and above all instructive, and encompasses the establishment and management of various forms of enterprises that have a strong social impact.

You can get it in all better bookstores in Croatia, order on their web shops (soon on Amazon too!) or directly from us at http://knjiga.act-grupa.hr/. The book is in Croatian language.


#GSEN2018, the Global Social Entrepreneurship Network annual event held in Canada

The key annual event of Global Social Entrepreneurship Network (GSEN), whose ACT Group is an active member, was held from 5-9 August in Toronto, Canada.

The program included a network members' empowerment and capacity building session, the development of a network strategy for the next three years, including the development of concrete actions for each region (eg Europe, focusing on actions in South East Europe). We also had a chance to learn on Canadian models and good practice examples (by paying a visit to Center for Social Innovation, The Good Foot Delivery and MaRs, the largest innovation hub in the world) and the Canadian ecosystem for the development of social entrepreneurship (through a brief conference and several panels).

GSEN is the first network that is internationally engaged in the exchange of knowledge and experience in social entrepreneurship. It was initiated by UnLtd, the UK's leading social support organization, with the support of the UK Government. The GSEN Network aims to enable faster development and networking of support organizations to social entrepreneurs, through joint learning and sharing of experiences, and raise awareness of the importance of developing social-practice practices worldwide.
The network currently brings together about 50 supporting organizations from about 50 countries from all 6 continents.


PNS Social Impact Report certified and internationally recognized

The "Start Something of Your Own " program  (Pokreni nešto svoje, in Croatian) encourages projects with a positive social impact on the economy, society and the environment and responds to the needs of startups for advisory, business development and financial support. We have established and implemented it since 2016 in cooperation and with the financial support of Philip Morris Zagreb Ltd.

n the first year of the program (2016/2017), six projects were supported. Besides awarded grants ACT Group has provide continuous mentoring business support, mentoring in project implementation and efficient use of project results, project promotion through program campaign and social impact measurement of the projects.

A very strict school definition of social influence is the contribution that an organization creates through its activities, which includes a series of long-term effects on the community and the well-being of the individual. We may say that social influence is the story of the positive changes in the society created for us, our company, our organization, our activities.

Social impact measurment is a process that requires interaction between the organization and all its key stakeholders because it is important to hear from those who are experiencing (positive) changes in the process.

Social Return of Investment (SROI) is a method of social impact measurement that can be used to calculate how much social value is generated by using available resources (capital, time, infrastructure, etc...) during project implementation.

By measuring the social influence (done by our team member Sunčana Glavina Petričević) it was established that during the first year of implementation of SSoYO program (PNS), for every 1,00 Kn invested, 1.40 Kn of new social value was created.

The report (you can download it here) was certified by Social Value International, a global multisectoral and multidisciplinary network, present in 45 countries on all continents, aimed at measuring social impact and social value. The PNS Social Return of Investment Report is one of the first internationally certified SROI reports in the region.

The ACT Group will continue to measure the social impact of the PNS program and projects supported  in the second year (2017/2018), alumni in other support programs, as well as for all other stakeholders and actors of the social economy through the network Social Value Croatia that is about to be launched soon.

Because, as they explain in SVI, all too often key decisions about resources and policies are made using a limited economic concept of value, which fails to consider important effects on people and the environment. As the gap between rich and poor increases and the effects of climate change become more apparent, our work has never been more urgent.


First generation of the Accelerator for Social Entrepreneurs program introduced to investors and creditors

Demo Day II, held on Tuesday, July 17, officially marked the end the first year of implementation of Accelerator for Social Entrepreneurs, our new support program. The program was launched in co-operation with one of the world's leading microfinance funds, the European Fund for South East Europe (EFSE) and the EFSE Development Facility which promotes the development impact of its investments, and Erste Bank and their ERSTE Foundation from Vienna.

Five of the best and most ready social enterprises in Croatia presented their business ideas in front of the expert jury and (impact) investors and creditors from Croatia and abroad, They were selected after two levels of selection and semi-annual intensive work with their mentors and consultants. These are: BRLOG Cooperative Brewery (Zadar), Marunuša j.d.o.o. (Knin), ProPuh j.d.o.o. (Zagreb), Social Cooperative Humana Nova (Čakovec) and Green Energy Cooperative (Zagreb).

During the first year of implementation program provided support for 15 social entrepreneurs who, with the help of mentors, developed their business models and learned how to successfully present projects to potential investors. During the ten-month intensive work, the selected teams have undergone a pre-acceleration phase (dealing with prototyping, testing and validation of the solution and having the opportunity for further networking) and the acceleration phase of the program (enterprise development / scaling, market development, marketing), and the program provided small grants for further development of their projects.

On Tuesday, ADP Demo Day II was held in Zagreb, with final presentation of business models and presentation of developed products / services. The jury members Jasmina Petrović (EFSE DF / Finance in Motion), Tina Sirotić (Erste Bank), Ranko Milić (Eupolis Group) and Hrvoje Bogdan (Adizes Southeast Europe) gave contestants feedback on the presented entrepreneurial ventures and advices for a successful entry into the market.

More than 50 representatives of social enterprises and support organizations, investors, financial institutions, public administration and the media attended the event.

The panel discussion "Situation and Development Potential of Support to Social Entrepreneurs in Croatia and the Western Balkans Region" was held afterwards with Mirjana Šakić (Erste Group), Jasmina Petrović (EFSE DF / Finance in Motion), Renata Brkić (Feelsgood SI Venture, World Business Angels Investment Forum), Predrag Borojević (Funky Guerrilla) and Stevica Kuharski (Locodels).

The key challenges faced by social entrepreneurs in Croatia are the lack of business support and the hard access to finance for development and growth. The accelerator for social entrepreneurs responds precisely to these challenges - it provides business support for the development and realization of new projects for social entrepreneurs with stable business, is concluded during the roundtable.


SROI Practitioner Training held in Zagreb

Following the success of our February 2018 Social Return on Investment (SROI) Methodology Workshop - where our attendees got introduced to SROI methodology for assessing social impact, the first regional training for SROI Practitioners was held this week.

We organized a two-day SROI Practitioner Training, in cooperation with Social Value International, a network that we are member off. Training was led by Dr. Adam Richards of Social Value UK. The aim of the training was to increase the knowledge and to teach the participants to use the tools to measure and maximize the social impact of their activities.

the most wide spread, well established, framework for assessing social impact. It enables us to measure the amount of social value created, from the input resources (capital, time, infrastructure etc.), during the project duration. SROI focuses on key stakeholders and the change affected upon them as a result of interventions or implementation of specified activities. The created change (social, environmental and economic outcomes) is represented in attributed monetary value, thus enabling us to calculate the SROI ratio. From the calculated ratio we learn how much EUR was made for the society for each 1 EUR of initial investment.

On the first day of training, participants were step by step breakdown of the SROI methodology for measuring social impact. The training will be applied knowledge based, meaning the lectures will connect the theoretical knowledge to the real issues of attendees’ projects (as opposed to the usual case studies approach). The attendees will be given self-assessment tools and access to Global Value Exchange system. In the final objective of the day the attendees will learn Mapping Outcomes.

The second day of the training was all in deepening the understanding of the SROI methodology and practices; including the techniques of: evidencing outcomes and attributing value to the same; establishing impact; calculating the SROI; reporting, using and embedding.

The training was led by Dr. Adam Richards, SROI consultant and practitioner, Senior Researcher for Social Value UK and Social Value International, and member of permanent faculty at University of York.

Social Value International is currently the only organization offering the certificate for SROI practitioners worldwide. The above described two-day workshop is the first requirement in admittance to SROI practitioner certification process. Within this admittance process the applicants need to fill out the minimum requirement of one SROI report which then needs to be submitted to Social Values International for verification.

All certified SORI practitioners are featured on the Social Value International member directory through which they can be offered contract engagements.

ACT Group for its member organizations and other clients (civil society organizations, social enterprises, startups ...) provides a service of social impact measurement. If you want to know more or want to have a certified report on the social impact of your activities, request a meeting.