Another interview, another social enterprise: Andra and Younited Cultures.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Optimist, creative, fighter.
What problem do you solve?
Raising awareness towards the positive role of im/migrants for the society and economy.
As a migrant myself, I am disappointed to see how the negative image of migrants is being constantly promoted, yet, the positive side of migration is never really shown. I want to bring more awareness towards that. The press plays a big role in influencing society. Migration has been misrepresented for far too long. We need new ideas to show that migration is positive.
How does your business model work?
Storytelling scarves. Wear a story!
Together with the im-/migrant role models and through a creative process we transform their integration journey into unique scarf designs, that express their character, diversity and cultural heritage. In order to make our message impactful for everyone, we also created the “Celebrate Migration” signature scarf, which aims to become a symbol for cultural diversity. By wearing it, we make the positive image of migration visible, a topic rarely promoted and spoken about.
We sell these scarves/ stories as gifts online, via fairs, events, shops as well as companies. Additionally, we now offer a teambuilding workshop for companies to create their own signature scarf with their employees. We capture their story, vision and values and put them on a scarf that they or customers can receive on special occasions.
What is social entrepreneurship to you? And what is it not?
Creating value for society no matter your business, product or service. Overall, social entrepreneurship is not a charity activity. It’s creating value, purpose and impact by putting people before profits.
What are the toughest challenges you have to face by running a social business?
Finding state funds that concern social entrepreneurship, which are equal to none. We are registered as a GmbH (eng. company with limited liability) but act as NGO, which means that we reinvest the earnings to bring awareness towards our vision, to celebrate cultural diversity. And for that, there is no subsidy, because we are for-profit, but our focus is social.
It saddens me that all I hear about is tech funds, digital app funds, fast growth, fast job creation. There’s always money for that, but nothing for social entrepreneurship.
What is your vision for social entrepreneurship in Austria?
That all companies act more social. I hope it will become a standard form of doing business.
A little piece of advice for social entrepreneurs to be?
Network with other social entrepreneurs, learn from their experiences and be aware that, in order to make an impact, you also have to develop a sustainable business model. Don’t get dependent on external money (sponsors, etc.) but make sure you have a viable product that can sustain you long-term.
Andra is founder and CEO of Younited Cultures. For more information please visit http://younitedcultures.eu.