Read what Teresa from Supertramps has to say about homelessness and social business in Austria.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
What problem do you solve?
Even though Vienna is always cited as world‘s most liveable city, the number of homeless people is growing. Once living on the street, finding the way back is challenging due to a complex set of reasons: Often, homeless people have little opportunities because they have no one who believes in or trusts them anymore, they unlearned social competencies and reliability, and they often have mental problems. These factors all lead to a very low self-esteem. At the same time, most people have prejudices and are not very familiar with homelessness.
How does your business model work?
SUPERTRAMPS offers adventurous walks through Vienna, developed and led by homeless guides. At carefully chosen public places, they connect knowledge about homelessness with their personal stories. With the walks, we aim to empower our guides and build awareness about homelessness. SUPERTRAMPS was founded in 2015 by Katharina Turnauer who supported a similar project in Prague with her private foundation. At the moment, SUPERTRAMPS is organised as a non-profit. The foundation supports SUPERTRAMPS with expertise and funding. However, the aim is to be self-sustaining in the long-term.
What is Social Entrepreneurship to you? And what is it not?
To me, Social Entrepreneurship means tackling societal and environmental challenges in an innovative way whilst striving to be financially independent. In every step Social Entrepreneurs make, they act in a respectful and morally reasonable way. The applied practices are led by a social mission and not by profit goals. For them, impact is their main priority.
What are the toughest challenges you have to face by running a social business?
I personally think that there are two main challenges: Does my business truly have a sustainable impact? Is my business really able to operate without external financiers?
What is your vision for Social Entrepreneurship in Austria?
Social Entrepreneurship is not only seen as a current hype but as a long-term interest by the state and as a respected and applied business model by the private, public and NGO sector. At the same time, conventional businesses acknowledge the added value of Social Entrepreneurship and recognise their social and environmental responsibilities.
A little piece of advice for social entrepreneurs to be?
In your ambitious pursuit of goals and success, don’t forget you as a person. If you feel good, the business will flourish.
If you could put up a huge billboard anywhere – what would it say?
Everyone has a talent. If you recognise the talent, honour and encourage it.
For more information, please visit http://supertramps.at/.
On a personal note, a few of us from the SEF Team have had the pleasure to take part in a tour led by one of the supertramps, Ferdinand, and we can sincerely recommend it. It was incredibly interesting and we walked away with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the complexity of what it means to be homeless.