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Introduction the the Special Issue: Sustainability and Entrepreneurship


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Sustainable business models do not focus primarily on profits, but rather on social or environmental issues. The rising number of enterprises with such a purpose, not only shakes up our understanding of what businesses are supposed to do, but also reshapes our understanding of business logics. These new ways of business are intriguing to both business community and researchers, which led to initiate this special issue. Before we introduce the three articles that describe the business models of three successful Belgian social entrepreneurs striving for sustainability (Serve the City of Brussels, La Ferme Nos Pilifs and Tejo), we will discuss a broader initiative to gather together researchers from around the world for discussion on the variety of sustainable business models.
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JULI 2016
Tijdschrift voor Accountancy & Bedrijfskunde
Aanbevolen citeerwijze: Acc.Bedr.T.
• Joël Branson, Hoofdredacteur, Gewoon hoogleraar Accountancy en Audit aan de Vrije Universiteit
Brussel, Decaan van de Faculteit Economische en Sociale Wetenschappen Solvay Business School,
Bedrijfsrevisor bij Grant Thornton
• Nikolay Dentchev, Redactiesecretaris, Docent Ondernemerschap en Maatschappelijk Verantwoord
Ondernemen aan Vrije Universiteit Brussel en KU Leuven
• Walter Aerts, Gewoon hoogleraar Universiteit Antwerpen
• Johan Christiaens, Hoofddocent Accountancy, Vakgroep Publieke Governance, Management en Finan-
ciën aan UGent, Bedrijfsrevisor EY
• Els De Wielemaker, Wetenschappelijk Coördinator van het Hoger Instituut voor Accountancy en
Fiscaliteit, UGent
• Kris Hardies, Docent Accounting en Auditing Universiteit Antwerpen
Johan Lemmens, Managing Partner bij aternio (econoom en scaal jurist)
• Nadine Lybaert, Gewoon hoogleraar Accountancy Universiteit Hasselt
• Anne-Mie Reheul, Docent Accounting KU Leuven – Campus Brussel
Dries Schockaert, Bestuurder (Director) PwC Bedrijfsrevisoren
• Wim Vandekerckhove, Hoofddocent University of Greenwich
Abonnementen en administratie
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Verantwoordelijke uitgever
Steve Massagé
3 SUSTAINABILITY AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP - Philippe Eiselein and Nikolay Dentchev
STUDY OF LA FERME NOS PILIFS - Dyakov Veselin, Grajcevci Etleve, Hristova Simona,
Nguyen Tra Ngan, Pham Ly Thi Thao & Phuong Manh
STUDY OF SERVE THE CITY BRUSSELS - Jurri Bekkers, Klinta Mantin¸ a, Anya Silagadze, Soe
Truyts & Elise Van der Cruysse (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)
CASE STUDY OF TEJO - An Bontemps, Benjamin D’hertefelt, Cedric Everaerts, Jordi Broos,
Michaël Peeters & Thomas Mosselmans
ERIC KENIS - Philippe Eiselein
Introduction to the Special Issue:
Sustainability and Entrepreneurship
Sustainable business models do not focus pri-
marily on prots, but rather on social or en-
vironmental issues. The rising number of en-
terprises with such a purpose not only shakes
up our understanding of what businesses are
supposed to do, but also reshapes our under-
standing of business logics. These new ways
of business are intriguing to both business
community and researchers, which led to
the initiation of this special issue. Before we
introduce the three articles that describe the
business models of three successful Belgian
social entrepreneurs striving for sustainability
(Serve the City of Brussels, La Ferme Nos Pilifs
and Tejo), we will discuss a broader initiative
to gather together researchers from around
the world for a discussion on the variety of
sustainable business models.
The international workshop entitled “Em-
bracing the Variety of Sustainable Business
Models” took place on the 13th of May 2016
at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. This event
was organised by the Solvay Business Schools
(VUB) Chair of Social Entrepreneurship. On
this occasion, the start of the Chair of Social
Entrepreneurship was announced, with grat-
itude to the founding partners Wolters Kluw-
er, Close the Gap and Euroclear, by the chair
holder Prof.Dr. Nikolay Dentchev. By organis-
ing such an event, the Chair supports social
entrepreneurs in their ambition to develop
entrepreneurial and innovative approaches
for resolving the sustainability issues of our
society. The Chair also wanted to support the
development of research ideas in preparation
for submission to the Special Volume1 in the
Journal of Cleaner Production. With more than
70 participants from 15 dierent countries2,
academics and leading practitioners came
together to exchange positive experiences,
interesting insights and valuable research on
topics such as sustainable circular business
models, social entrepreneurship, new ap-
proaches to sustainability, innovation, ecosys-
tems and impacts on new business models.
The workshop started with four keynote speak-
ers, namely Kris van der Velpen (professor
of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Flan-
ders Business School), Thierry Vandenbroek
(founder of Poseco3), Inge Knapen (direc-
tor at Close The Gap4) and Bernard For-
noville (manager at the Social Innovation
2 Australia, Belgium, Cuba, Canada, Denmark,
Finland, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Norway,
Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United
Joël Branson,
Hoofdredacteur Accountancy
& Bedrijfskunde
Philippe Eiselein
Onderzoeker aan de Vrije
Universiteit Brussel
Nikolay Dentchev
Docent Ondernemerschap
en MVO aan de Vrije
Universiteit Brussel en aan
KU Leuven Campus Brussel
Beste lezer,
Bij het doorbladeren van dit derde nummer zal u direct zien dat het een speciaal themanummer
betreft. Accountancy en Bedrijfskunde gaat altijd over cijfers maar daarom niet altijd over (eco-
nomische) winst. De twee gasthoofdredacteurs Philippe Eiselein en Nikolay Dentchev gooien het
over een andere boeg. Ze hebben dit nummer samengesteld rond duurzaamheid en onderne-
merschap. Het idee kwam eerder aan bod tijdens een studiedag georganiseerd aan de VUB in
mei 2016 en wordt hier verder uitgewerkt. Ik laat ze zelf de verschillende studies voorstellen die
in dit nummer aan bod komen. We zijn er alle drie van overtuigd dat dit soort kruisbestuiving
interessant is, zowel tussen accountancy en bedrijfskunde als tussen de academische wereld en
de industrie als tussen lezer en schrijver-student.
Veel inspiratie gewenst,
Joël Branson
Accountancy & Bedrijfskunde, 2016-3
Factory5). Kris presented valuable insights in successful
business models, explaining for example what is of im-
portance for the health sector to keep them innovative.
The second keynote speaker, Thierry Vandenbroek, is the
founder of Poseco (Positive Entrepreneurs). It defends and
represents an economy that is in line with today’s societal
challenges, notably by promoting social entrepreneurship.
Thierry mentioned social entrepreneurs (which is but one of
the many “positive” entrepreneurs they know) as contributors
to a changing world. The third keynote speaker, Inge Knapen,
is a representative of one of the founding partners of the Chair,
Close the Gap. This is actually a social enterprise. Close The
Gap is a business-minded not-for-prot type of company which
contributes to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and is
active in both the educational and IT sector. The fourth and
last keynote speaker was Bernard Fornoville from the “Social
Innovation Factory”, a network and support organization for
social innovation and entrepreneurship.
Three parallel sessions were organised, each one having three
dierent topics, containing representatively four to ve pres-
entations. The three acting chairs were professor Lara Johanns-
dottir from the University of Iceland, professor Jan Jonker from
the University of Nijmegen and professor Timo Nuyberg from
the University of Aalto. The topics discussed were “Circular
Business Models”, “Social Entrepreneurship”, “Theoretical Ap-
proaches to Sustainability”, “Collaborative SBMs”, “Innovation
and SBMs”, “Technology and SBMs”, “Ecosystems in Support of
SBMs”, “Success Factors of Social Entreprises” and “The Impact
of SBMs”.
In every session, presenters were given the occasion to pres-
ent in fteen minutes their preliminary ndings, current work
or recently nished paper in a constructive and collegial way.
Both senior and junior academics were either presenting or
giving constructive discussion points for improvement. We had
the opportunity to attend one of those sessions, more speci-
cally the one on “social entrepreneurship”, with professor Lara
Johannsdottir as acting chair. Presentations were given by both
junior and senior academics from dierent institutions. The
types of papers varied from conceptual papers through case
studies to empiric investigations. The attendees showed much
interest in social entrepreneurship research and welcomed all
At the end of the day, the workshop provided participants with
both the possibility to present their current ndings and to
receive constructive feedback and comments on how to fur-
ther develop and improve their work. To sum up, some pa-
pers were encouraged to be presented on the special issue of
JCP, whilst other were discussed for further development. The
workshop concluded with a nice cocktail, where all participants
could have pleasant drinks and talks, discussing both work and
evening plans. The (international) workshop on sustainable
business models in Brussels provided practitioners as well as
academics with the possibility to network and share insights,
exchanging positive notes and comments. Discussions pro-
vided interesting feedback and comments, whilst social entre-
preneurial business models were explained. The three articles
presented in the remainder of the special issue are prepared
by three groups of VUB Master students, who have investigated
cases of remarkable business models of social entrepreneurs.
These covered the cases of “Serve the City Brussels”, “La Ferme
Nos Pilifs” and “Tejo”, discussing the business models, social
impact, critical success factors and challenges of the social en-
terprise. These three groups of students were selected as the
best out of 15 teams who prepared cases as an assignment
for the course of Corporate Social Responsibility of professor
Dentchev at VUB.
The rst case presented in the special issue concerns a so-
cial enterprise called “La Ferme Nos Pilifs”. The mission of La
Ferme Nos Pilifs is to create employment opportunities for
disabled people and includes social, economic and environ-
mental goals. La Ferme Nos Pilifs focuses on disabled people
and proves through their daily activities that those persons are
able to produce equally well-grown products as non-disabled
persons. Given the clear devotion to the targeted beneciaries,
La Ferme Nos Pilifs was selected as a social enterprise. Despite
many diculties at start-up, La Ferme Nos Pilifs has become a
successful social enterprise with greater recognition for sup-
porting disabled people, creating more job opportunities, pro-
tecting the environment, and producing healthy products.
The second case presented in the special issue concerns the
social enterprise “Serve The City Brussels”, which was chosen
due to its clear social mission and its straightforward market
approach to generate social value. As a volunteering organisa-
tion that allocates volunteers to specic social projects in the
city, in order to help people in need, the organisation is con-
sidered to be an innovative social enterprise. The paper they
presented examined the relevance and applicability of CSR
theories and social entrepreneurship’s theoretical frameworks.
They concluded that although the company is a legitimate and
successful social enterprise with a sustainable business model,
improvements still can be made. In addition, social enterprises
hold many lessons learned towards enterprises that are more
The third case presented in the special issue concerns the so-
cial enterprise “Tejo”, an organisation engaged in psychothera-
Introduction to the Special Issue: Sustainability and Entrepreneurship
peutic assistance to youngsters between ten and twenty years
old. Tejo’s mission is to “help young people in their growth to
adulthood”, but in a faster and easier way than classical alter-
natives. They work in several major Belgian cities (Antwerp,
Bruges and Ghent amongst others) with professionals who
want to help out youngsters on a voluntary basis. Because of
the easier access to professional help (both in terms of time
and costs), Tejo has had quite the social impact on many peo-
ple. Several challenges for this social enterprise are discussed,
such as the reliance on the voluntary nature of professionals
and organisational growth.
Aside from these three articles, we have the pleasure of pro-
viding you with a book review of “Hoek af”, as well as an in-
terview report with its author Eric Kenis (both the review and
the interview are written in Dutch). Eric wanted to reshape the
view on Belgian entrepreneurship by gathering a variety of rich
life lessons and experiences of several Belgian entrepreneurs
and their businesses. He provides the reader with insightful
and inspiring stories from the atypical Belgian woman or man
and discusses what could be useful for further developing the
Belgian entrepreneurial landscape.
In conclusion, we hope that this special issue oers insightful
and refreshing new ideas on entrepreneurship and sustainabil-
ity. We wish you a pleasant reading of this issue.
Philippe Eiselein is a doctoral researcher at the Vrije Universi-
teit Brussel (VUB). He is preparing his doctoral dissertation on
business models of social entrepreneurship. His main research
interests are in the areas of entrepreneurial development, cor-
porate social responsibility strategies and sustainability prac-
Nikolay A. Dentchev is a Professor of Entrepreneurship and
Corporate Social Responsibility at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel
(VUB) and at KU Leuven campus Brussel, Belgium. He is the
chair holder of the Solvay Business School (VUB), Chair for
Social Entrepreneurship (Wolters Kluwer, Close The Gap and
Euroclear) at the VUB and coordinator of NV Actief (KBC, Trivi-
dend, and Unizo) at KU Leuven. These two initiatives focus on
encouraging social and student entrepreneurship.
In light of the increasing awareness of the potential benets of social enterprises to the economy and
to society at large, this paper aims at exploring the business model of “La Ferme Nos Pilifs”. We wish to
understand its business model and underlying mechanisms that lead to success, as well as reveal the
challenges and critical success factors that this social entreprise encounters. The mission of La Ferme
Nos Pilifs is to create employment opportunities for disabled people. It integrates social, economic and
environmental goals in order to achieve its mission. Their business activity is divided into dierent busi-
ness segments including farming and gardening, production and distribution of bio products, with the
integration of disabled people at the core of all these activities. Despite many diculties encountered
at the start-up stage, La Ferme Nos Pilifs has become a successful social enterprise with greater rec-
ognition for supporting disabled people, creating more job opportunities, protecting the environment,
and producing healthy products. A systematic collection of secondary data and exploratory interviews
within the company and stakeholders allowed us to analyse past and current developments in the
business model of this social enterprise.
Gezien de mogelijke oplossingen die sociale ondernemingen bieden aan zowel de economie als aan de
maatschappij, verkennen we in dit onderzoek het businessmodel, de uitdagingen en kritische succes-
factoren van La Ferme Nos Pilifs. De missie van La Ferme Nos Pilifs is om mensen met een handicap
aan het werk te kunnen zetten. De boerderij is een voorbeeld van een maatschappelijke onderneming
die economische, ecologische en sociale doelstellingen in hun bedrijf integreert. Hun doelstellingen
worden omgezet in verschillende business-segmenten waaronder de landbouw en tuinbouw, productie
en distributie van biologische producten, waarbij personen met een handicap geïntegreerd worden in
al deze activiteiten. Ondanks de vele moeilijkheden vanaf het begin is La Ferme Nos Pilifs uitgegroeid
tot een succesvolle sociale onderneming met meer erkenning voor hun ondersteuning aan mensen met
een handicap, het creëren van meer werkgelegenheid, de bescherming van het milieu en het produce-
ren van gezonde producten. We verzamelen systematisch secundaire gegevens en leiden verkennende
gesprekken binnen het bedrijf en belanghebbenden over de ontwikkelingen in het verleden alsook de
huidige ontwikkeling van het businessmodel van deze sociale onderneming.
Key words: Business model, social enterprise, social impact, critical success factors, sus-
1. Introduction
Some seem to look at disabled people with
both fear and pity, as individuals incapable of
either participating in or contributing to socie-
ty. However, this view not only disregards the
obstacles that disabled people face in their
daily life, it also marginalises and stigmatis-
es a group into undercapability. Nowadays,
dierent initiatives, projects and policies are
trying to mitigate these diculties, preventing
discrimination and empowering handicapped
people to be part of society on equal terms
with the others. One such initiative is “La
Ferme Nos Pilifs”, a sheltered workplace for
people with disabilities.
Etleve Grajcevci
Ly Thi Thao Pham
Manh Phuong
Simona Hristova
Tra Ngan Nguyen
Veselin Dyakov
Allen Masterstudent Vrije
Universiteit Brussel (VUB)
Social Entrepreneurship Business
Model and Challenges: an Explorative
Case Study of La Ferme Nos Pilifs
Social Entrepreneurship: Business Model and Challenges
This specic type of enterprise provides meaningful, fullling
and rewarding work to people with disabilities. It reveals how
handicapped people can contribute work of an equal quality
as opposed to people without a disability. This type of enter-
prise can be found under the umbrella of social enterprises, i.e.
enterprises that pursue a specic social mis-
sion, whilst respecting the economic needs of
an enterprise. At the core of this enterprise
stands the social mission, which is to give an
equal working opportunity to everyone. Aside
from this, La Ferme Nos Pilifs focuses on the
environment by producing and delivering or-
ganic products. Combining social, environmental and econom-
ic goals, the farm is a good example of a sustainable business.
La Ferme Nos Pilifs could be further specied as a work inte-
gration social enterprise (WISE), a term well known throughout
the Belgian social entrepreneurship eld. The aim of such type
of social enterprise is to integrate vulnerable groups such as
long-term unemployed and disabled people into the labour
market. 3,170 social enterprises were reported in Belgium in
2013, while the total number of WISE was reported to be be-
tween 1,500 and 2,000 (European Commision, 2014).
In Flanders, WISE is presented in several types such as: work
integration enterprises with the aim of creating permanent
jobs for long-term unemployed individuals with low levels of
qualication, social workshops that integrate people who have
been economically inactive for more than ve years, shelter
workshops that oer permanent jobs for disabled people, and
nally work care centers that target persons who suer from
multiple disadvantages (e.g. low education coupled with drug
addiction). In Wallonia, groups of WISE include (1) work experi-
ence enterprises (enterprises de formation par le travail, ETA)
that provide work opportunities for underprivileged groups of
people, (2) work integration enterprises that assist less privi-
leged persons in utilising job opportunities, and (3) adapted
work enterprises previously referred to as shelter workshops
which assist people who were unable to nd a job in a regular
company (European Commission, 2014).
According to Devlieger (2005), people with functional limita-
tions represent 12 % to 16 % of the working population. Cur-
rently 20,000 people in this group are employed, which repre-
sents only 10 % of the total number. These workers are divided
into two groups: those who work in sheltered workshops (ap-
proximately 15,000 workers), and the remaining workers who
are included in the regular employment market (Devlieger,
2005). Given the rising number of social entrepreneurial activ-
ities, as well as their (social) impact on society, academic re-
search can benet from the further development and a better
understanding of the business models of social businesses and
the underlying mechanisms driving them to success. Indeed,
social entrepreneurs are able to work where others do or can
not, whilst handling often very complex problems.
Therefore, we explore the business model of
this successful social enterprise and examine
in what way and to what extent it can create
(social) value for our society. The research
questions in this study lead us into determin-
ing the social business model of the enter-
prise and exploring its social impact, challeng-
es and critical success factors (CSFs). We contribute to the liter-
ature by exploring a Belgian succesful work integration social
enterprise (WISE)’s business model and unravelling possible
mechanisms that lead it to success.
2. Literature review
Social entrepreneurship (SE) aims to create social and eco-
nomic wealth by involving innovative approaches to address
specic problems, situated in sectors such as education, em-
ployment, IT, health, and nance (Mair & Noboa, 2006). The
denition of social entrepreneurship, given the complexity at
a terminological, business model and sectoral situation is still
under debate amongst scholars, as the meanings vary to dif-
ferent people (Dees, 1998). For illustrative purposes, we shortly
present three dierent denitions from past scholars.
Alvord et al. (2004) refer to SE as the eective tool to mitigate
social problems and catalyze social transformation. Mair and
Marti (2006, p. 3) dene this phenomenon as “a process in-
volving the innovative use and combination of resources to
pursue opportunities to catalyse social change and/or address
social needs”. According to Austin, Stevenson, and Wei-Skillern
(2006, p. 2), social entrepreneurship is “innovative, social value
creating activity that can occur within or across the nonprot,
business, or government sectors”.
Although no consensus has been achieved, we derive from the
literature that the social mission is the common feature of so-
cial entrepreneurship (Seelos & Mair, 2005; Mair & Marti, 2006;
Dacin, Dacin, & Tracey, 2011). This primary objective of social
entrepreneurship distinguishes itself from traditional entre-
preneurship, in which economic value creation is the main
purpose of the enterprise operations. The contrast between
two types of entrepreneurship does not mean that econom-
ic outcomes should be neglected in social entrepreneurship.
Instead, organisations need to balance both sets of priorities
The farm is an example
of a social enterprise that
integrates economic,
environmental and social
goals in its business.
Accountancy & Bedrijfskunde, 2016-3
in order to create social wealth and ensure sustainability and
nancial self-suciency (Seelos & Mair, 2005).
Social entrepreneurship aims at fullling human needs that
are left unsatised by current economic and social institutions
(Seelos & Mair, 2005) while respecting nancial survivability,
which leads to complex business models. To fully appreciate
these complex business models, it is important to understand
their main key success factors as well as their challenges. For
any enterprise, key success factors are the crucial resources,
competence and qualication to create competitive advantages
and achieve success in the future (Wronka, 2013). Similar to
commercial ventures, success factors of social enterprises
are also attributed critically to leadership, strategy, human re-
sources and nancial viability (Nasruddin, Misaridin & Aulia,
2014). However, social enterprises need to carefully consider
these factors in the context of their operations.
As documented in the research of Wronka (2013), there are
ten factors contributing to the success of the social ventures,
namely: strong leadership, motivation and commitment, an
enabling legal and regulatory environment, attractiveness and
clarication of the innovative concept, management expertise,
key personal qualities for front line service delivery, eective
collaboration with the public sector, social capital, local com-
munity involvement, and keeping and distributing accurate -
nancial records. In terms of challenges, social
entrepreneurs have to cope with a consider-
able number of issues related to their oper-
ations as well as the external environment.
As pointed out in the research of Dees (1998),
one of the biggest challenges for social entre-
preneurs is to manage the mission-related
impacts. Moreover, social entrepreneurs also need to attract
enough customers and partners to generate sucient prot
and create more economic values in order to survive in the
competitive market. Beside those main challenges, there are
several problems that social entrepreneurs need to consider
seriously for innovation and growth including legitimacy, pro-
fessional management, nancing and networking.
3. Methodology
For this case study, we conducted qualitative research, based
on ve in-depth interviews with both internal and external
stakeholders of La Ferme Nos Pilifs. The interviewees include
management, employees, customers and suppliers. This al-
lowed us to gather dierent perceptions of several stakehold-
er groups, which would lead to more consistent and objective
data, in order to generate a broad view and consequently mini-
mize the possibility for biased results. We opted for semi-struc-
tured interviews because this allowed us to ask more open
questions and to explore the dierent aspects into more detail
with the interviewee. We also systematically gathered second-
ary data, based on reports, events, news articles and informa-
tion from various websites, to further triangulate the ndings
of the interviews. This allowed us to gather an in-depth under-
standing of the social enterprise’s business model.
4. Case study
4.1. Background
La Ferme Nos Pilifs is registered with the Commission of the
French Community (Cocof) and is located in Neder-Over-Heem-
beek (the North of Brussels). It was established to address the
lack of access to employment for people with intellectual dis-
abilities. Today, it oers 170 jobs of which 140 are reserved
for the handicapped. By adapting the work to the employees’
abilities, the enterprise can reduce their barriers to work, so
that they can all thrive in the tasks they accomplish. The name
“Nos Pilifs” was created by mixing the letters in the name of the
founder Nelly Filipson.
Historically, the centre was founded in 1971
with the idea of oering a place for children
with mental disabilities. To support the cen-
tre, the city of Brussels provided them with a
house and land. Over time, at the request of
the parents, the management realised that
these already mature children need a place
to work after graduation. Benoît Ceysens, director of the cen-
tre, saw the struggles of disabled people to nd a job. With the
thought of creating suitable job opportunities and employing
disabled people, the farm Nos Pilifs was built and launched in
1984 (L’entreprise & L’homme, 2014).
Back then, there were only 10 employees. At rst, they grew
vegetables and poultry and produced processed goods. How-
ever, Mr. Ceysens acknowledged that these activities were not
enough to maintain the farm, so he looked for another way to
expand the farm in dierent branches step by step. Despite the
early diculties of nancing, production management, pro-
ductivity of disabled stas and the farm’s protability, the farm
has grown over time, in nancial terms as well as in the num-
ber of disabled workers employed (Trends, 2011). Mr. Ceysens
attributed this growth to the belief and trust in the abilities of
every worker, the ambition to help those workers develop their
Creating hundreds of jobs
for people with disabilities,
La Ferme Nos Pilifs actively
contributes to Belgian
Social Entrepreneurship: Business Model and Challenges
skills and the attempt to integrate disabled people into society
(L’entreprise & L’homme, 2014).
Due to its sustainable character, the initiative “Nos Pilifs” won
the Grand Prize for Future Generations in 2011. The award was
created in 2007 by the Foundation of Future Generations. It is
given on an yearly basis to enterprises whose activities incor-
porate the principles of economic development and social wel-
fare while respecting the environment (Foundation For Future
Generations, 2011; La Capitale, 2011).
Starting from a small initiative, with the eorts and support of
dierent stakeholders, the farm has made a big dierence to
society and its positive impact continues to grow (Het Nieuws-
blad, 2011). The farm has also been recognised for being crea-
tive and innovative in carrying out its business and social pro-
jects (Le Vif / L’Express, 2016) and for bringing agriculture to the
heart of the city (Le Vif / L’Express, 2012).
4.2. Business Model of Nos Pilifs
This social entreprise started as a school for children with
mental disabilities and then was developed into a farm with
some plantation and gardening. The farm`s business has been
expanded over time. There are currently six dierent comple-
mentary activity segments. These are the means that help the
company to achieve not only its social but also its economic
and environmental objectives, in order to turn the farm into a
fully sustainable business.
These activities are the educational team (maintaining the
park and caring for animals, managing children and school
visits), the garden centre (oering garden designing services
and a wide range of owering and fruit trees, gardening tools
and plant care products), the garden design and maintenance
team (maintaining and developing gardens), the tavern (oer-
ing drinks, snacks, and a pleasant atmosphere during your visit
to the farm), the grocery/bakery (selling BIO fruits, vegetables
and “Made In Pilifs” products), and nally the manual handling
team (in charge of the manual handling works and fruit and
vegetable picking). Here, it is remarkable to note that the com-
plementary objectives are translated into the several activities
La Ferme Nos Pilifs organises, which in their turn not only inu-
ence resources, but revenue as well.
Some other social activities of the enterprise include trainings
and workshops in vegetable gardening (Les Jardins de Pomone,
2016) and tomato festivals where visitors can taste many vari-
eties of vegetables and learn some tips on plantation and seed
harvesting techniques (Les Amis de la Terre, 2015; BrusselsLife,
2015; Le Vif Weekend, 2014). Moreover, dishes prepared from
the farm`s products were presented in a cooking show (RTBF,
2015). They also participated in Anderlecht’s 190th Fair to intro-
duce their organic products to the inhabitants of Brussels (Het
Nieuwsblad, 2015) and in other planting activities to beautify
the neighbourhood (Het Laatste Nieuws, 2003).
Aside from this, the farm also worked closely together with
various partners. Successful collaborations include the part-
nership with Solvay and City of Brussels for the maintenance of
their parks, with Uber for the distribution of products from the
farm and with other companies for waste sorting in an environ-
mentally friendly way. These projects, either in the short or the
long term, help create more job opportunities and conrm that
the enterprise is committed to initiatives that are benecial to
both society and the environment.
4.3. Social Impact
La Ferme Nos Pilifs has contributed to Belgian society by ad-
dressing a social issue. Currently, the company provides
170jobs, 140 of which are designated to disabled people. The
strategy of the enterprise is to do business in a socially respon-
sible and environmentally friendly way. Thanks to its economic
activities, it has generated enough funding for social activities
and its operation.
The managers of the farm also try to adapt the workload to
each employee’s capability. Sometimes, the job can be shared
among 2 to 4 workers in order to reduce the pressure and
make them feel comfortable while working in the farm. The
management believes that it would be a good opportunity for
their personnel to engage in social contact with dierent cus-
tomers and visitors by working in various business operations,
such as the bakery, shop and restaurant.
As a result, the employees become more active and self-con-
dent. Moreover, the public can clearly see the contributions
of the handicapped to society and even support them more.
Thus, the farm does not only provide employment to the disa-
bled, but it also provides an increase in self-esteem and social
status. Additionally, in our discussion with two workers of the
farm, they expressed that they feel glad and valued for being
provided with the opportunity to work here. Moreover, the
social contact and the open working space are positively per-
ceived by the employees. For these reasons, Nos Pilifs does not
only have a good image in the mind of its employees, but it is
also considered by its customers as a successful social enter-
prise due to the social value it contributes to the society.
Accountancy & Bedrijfskunde, 2016-3
As a supplier, Simone a Soif is attracted by Nos Pilifs’ idea of so-
cial entrepreneurship and sustainable business. Simone a Soif
is a producer of 100 percent natural drinks made from local bio
fruits and vegetables. They wanted to combine the two busi-
nesses of organic products in order to create more jobs for the
farm. As an example, the managers of Simone a Soif decided
to change their production process to manual
handling which could be done by the farm`s
employees, even though they have the pos-
sibility to use automatic labelling machines
which are much cheaper.
However, Nos Pilifs Farm is not just a work
integration project for disabled people. They
also try to do everything properly in taking
into account environmental care. The farm is recognised in
various elds of activities for its eorts in the environmental
mission and professionalism. For their work Nos Pilifs got the
2 stars ecodynamic label. The label “Ecodynamic Enterprise”
(IBGE) is an ocial recognition in Brussels for good environ-
mental management practices implemented in companies. It
rewards the environmental dynamism and progress, in par-
ticular waste management, rational use of energy and man-
agement of labor mobility. The Nos Pilifs team puts a lot of
eort into implementing all sustainable practices in their busi-
ness (La Ferme Nos Pilifs).
Nos Pilifs is also a member of Ecobuild Cluster. This project is
implemented by the Brussels Capital Region to promote sus-
tainable construction and renovation, particularly in response
to climate change. According to this social entreprise, it is part
of a perspective of sustainable development, promoting the
creation, growth and the sustainability of its business.
4.4. Challenges
According to Mr. Piquet, the Human Resources Manager of Nos
Pilifs, like many other start-ups, the enterprise has faced many
challenges in terms of space, nancial resources and recogni-
tion. At the beginning, the workers had no salaries because of
the lack of nancing. Gradually, they attracted some donations
which helped them to maintain and develop their activities. As
a result, since 1985, the farm is a recognised company and to-
day, all employees get their remuneration.
Nos Pilifs receives 40 percent subsidy from the government,
whilst generating the rest on its own. Given the lower produc-
tivity of the disabled sta members, they had to re-arrange
some positions that gradually lost their function and to create
new ones. The aging of the personnel is another challenge. It
requires an adequate response of the management team to
adapt another more appropriate role and responsibilities for
these employees.
Another challenge was the selection of partners and clients. For
instance, they were approached by a weapon
producer and by dierent political parties but
Nos Pilifs refused them because they did not
share the same social values. It also rejected
several oers from some enterprises that
wanted to work in the farm just a few days,
only to gain a good image.
As highlighted by their supplier Simone a Soif,
instability of the partnerships is an additional challenge. This
can possibly result from the fact that at a certain stage of co-
operation, the supplier expects that their production will ex-
pand. Consequently, this requires bigger distribution capabili-
ty, which Nos Pilifs cannot provide. Apart from the distribution,
Nos Pilifs also supports Simone a Soif with the manual labelling
process, which will be challenged by automatisation technolo-
gy, forming an obstacle for the farm.
4.5. Key Success Factors
Mr. Piquet mentioned several factors that contribute to the
success of the farm. First, they receive considerable support
from the government, which accounts for 40 percent of their
income. The enterprise also does not have to pay taxes be-
cause it is a non-prot organisation (ABSL – association sans
but lucratif).
Likewise, the fact that the management still retains its rst
10employees reminds them of the initial idea of their project
and motivates them to go in the right direction. As a result, they
continue to develop and create more jobs for disabled people.
For the last 20 years, they have created more than 120 new
jobs. Furthermore, the farm is always targeting sustainable de-
velopment. They produce bio products that are environmental-
ly friendly and healthy. When people buy something from the
farm, they are not only satised with the quality, but they also
feel engaged in the initiative of supporting disabled people.
From the interviews with three customers, we found out that
the main reason for purchasing products from the farm is the
wide range of organic fruits and vegetables certied with BIO
label. Moreover, people can nd all kinds of green tools and
products for their own gardens. Additionally, this place is ideal
for families with children who want to walk and enjoy nature.
All the while supporting
disabled people, Nos Pilifs
has become a successful
social enterprise through
job creation, environmental
protection and healthy food
Social Entrepreneurship: Business Model and Challenges
From the perspective of Mr. Menten, communication manager
of Simone a Soif, Nos Pilifs belongs to a strong social network
in Brussels. This connects the enterprise with dierent com-
munities from whom they gain support, which can be consid-
ered benecial to any potential partners of the farm. Addition-
ally, he noted that the farm`s approach of matching the right
job for disabled people is an essential part of their business
model. The partnership between Nos Pilifs and Simone a Soif
is built mainly on “compromise”, meaning that the supplier ac-
cepts mistakes made by employees of the farm, which would
not be the case in other commercial companies.
5. Conclusion
The mission of La Ferme Nos Pilifs is to create employment op-
portunities for disabled people. The farm is an example of a
social enterprise that integrates economic, environmental and
social goals in its business. Their objectives are transformed
into dierent business segments including farming and gar-
dening, production and distribution of bio products, with the
integration of disabled people at the core of all these activities.
Despite many diculties from the very beginning, Nos Pilifs has
become a successful social enterprise with greater recognition
for supporting disabled people, creating more job opportuni-
ties, protecting the environment, and producing healthy prod-
ucts. Their social idea for more humanity and its proven impact
on society has drawn greater credibility and support from their
employees, customers, clients and partners. Nos Pilifs has in-
spired many organisations to replicate the same model in dif-
ferent places. However, the farm itself prefers to keep the same
size and scope of the enterprise and to focus on increasing
eciency, improving job and product quality and the working
environment. Even though there are many challenges ahead,
the enterprise is strongly committed to its initial objective. Their
adaptive business model, governmental support, strong social
network and dedicated partners and employees are the key
success factors for sustainable growth of La Ferme Nos Pilifs.
Etleve Grajcevci is a Master Student of Management Science
at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), specialised in Manage-
ment, banking and nance. Her main interests are in the areas
of Banking regulation, Basel III regulation, Risk Management
and Social enterprise.
Ly Thi Thao Pham is a Master Student of Management Science
at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), specialised in marketing.
Her main interests are in the areas of Marketing and Commu-
nications, Consumer Psychology and Behaviour and Project
Manh Phuong is a Master Student of Management Science at
the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), specialised in human re-
sources management. Her main interests are in the areas of
Human Resources and Organisational Management.
Simona Hristova is a Master Student of Management Science
at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), specialised in Finance
and Management. Her main interests are in the areas of man-
agement and project management.
Tra Ngan Nguyen is a Master Student of Management Science
at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), specialised in Auditing
and Accounting. Her main interests are in the areas of Organi-
sational Management, Auditing and Accounting.
Veselin Dyakov is a Master Student of Management Science at
the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), specialised in Finance and
Management. His main interests are in the areas of Finance,
Accounting, Strategy and Management.
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Jurri Bekker
Klinta Mantina
Anna Silagadze
Soe Truyts
Elise Van der Cruysse
Allen Masterstudent Vrije
Universiteit Brussel (VUB)
In light of the increasing awareness of the potential benets of social enterprises to the economy and
society at large, this paper aims at exploring the business model of Serve the City Brussels. We wish to
understand its business model and underlying mechanisms that lead to success, as well as reveal the
challenges and critical success factors social entrepreneurs encounter. Furthermore, this paper exam-
ines the relevance and applicability of CSR theories and theoretical frameworks by conducting a case
study in a qualitative research. A systematic collection of secondary data and exploratory interviews
with the company and its main stakeholders allow us to critically analyse current developments in so-
cial entrepreneurship and gaps in CSR literature. Although the company is a legitimate and successful
social enterprise with a sustainable business model, improvements can be made by increasing the
scope of CSR in its business model and developing other critical success factors to take on challenges
and improve the eciency and viability of the company in the long run.
Gegeven de bijdragen van sociale ondernemingen aan zowel de economie als aan de maatschap-
pij, verkennen we in dit onderzoek het businessmodel, de uitdagingen en kritische succesfactoren van
Serve the City Brussels. Wij willen haar businessmodel en de onderliggende mechanismen die leiden
tot succes begrijpen, evenals de uitdagingen en de kritische succesfactoren van sociale ondernemers
blootleggen. Bovendien onderzoekt de paper de relevantie en toepasbaarheid van MVO-theorieën en
theoretische kaders door het uitvoeren van een case study in een kwalitatief onderzoek. Een systema-
tische verzameling van secundaire gegevens en verkennende gesprekken met de onderneming en haar
belangrijkste stakeholders laten ons toe om de huidige ontwikkelingen in het sociaal ondernemerschap
en lacunes in CSR-literatuur kritisch te analyseren. Hoewel het bedrijf een legitieme en succesvolle so-
ciale onderneming met een duurzaam businessmodel is, kunnen verbeteringen worden gemaakt door
het verhogen van de omvang van MVO in haar businessmodel en het ontwikkelen van andere factoren
kritische succesfactoren om haar uitdagingen aan te gaan en in het verbeteren van de eciëntie en de
levensvatbaarheid van de onderneming de lange termijn.
Key words: corporate social responsibility, business model, stakeholder engagement, soci-
al impact, critical success factors, sustainability
1. Introduction
This paper gives an overview of recent devel-
opments in the business model of Serve the
City (STC) Brussels and discusses how cor-
porate social responsibility is integrated into
their business model. This paper aims at por-
traying the value-creating network of a social
enterprise. Moreover, the purpose is to deter-
mine in what way, and to what extent, a specif-
ic social enterprise can create social value for
its environment.
STC has a clear social mission and a straight-
forward market approach to generate social
value. As a volunteering organisation that al-
locates volunteers to specic social projects in
the city, in order to help people in need, the
organisation is considered to be an innova-
tive social enterprise. In general, the Brussels
Social Entrepreneurship Business
Model and Challenges: an Explorative
Case Study of Serve The City Brussels
Accountancy & Bedrijfskunde, 2016-3
community perceives STC as a good initiative and a good or-
ganisation. Because its projects are diverse and it serves many
dierent groups, we can see that a lot of people and organisa-
tions within the community are touched by what STC is doing.
Therefore, they see STC as an organisation that goes the extra
mile to help people in need (
city-samen-de-stad-dienen). This can also be seen in the recent
work of photographer Dani Oshi, who tried to express what
STC does in our community by creating a black and white series
of photographs about the people working for STC, the people
they help and the variety of projects they organise (www.danio-
Moreover, the corporate world talks highly of STC. One in-
itiative that got a lot of attention in the media was the cake
sale of Toyota Motor Europe’s teams, cakes that they baked
themselves. Over a two-month period between October and
November the people of Toyota Motor Europe’s teams raised
26.132 euros with cake sales, book sales, parties, quiz nights,
lotteries, photo sessions and many dierent other fundraising
activities. They also donated three Toyota PROACE vans with
food, which allowed STC to feed the homeless in and around
Brussels during the harsh winter period. At the end, they do-
nated one of the vans in order to help STC maximise its eorts
Aside from that, STC proves to be present after a crisis that
touches all people of the community. During the aftermath of
the attacks in Brussels on 22/03/2016, STC cancelled its sched-
uled events as a reaction to the lockdown,
but it expanded its serving projects in order
to help those directly aected by the attacks
(; Belz. M. (2016)). International
institutions, such as the European Commis-
sion, also try to integrate STC’s work and val-
ues in their organised events. For example, the ‘Strictly comp
dancing’ fundraiser, which supports underprivileged kids in
Brussels, was organised by the DG Competition in collabora-
tion with STC (
The emphasis of this case study especially lies on determining
the social business model of the enterprise, the social impact,
the challenges it faces and the critical success factors (CSFs).
Another aspect analysed is the stakeholder management strat-
egy of STC. This allows us to examine more closely the stake-
holder involvement and engagement of the enterprise, as we
discuss how STC integrates the dierent needs and interests
of the stakeholders into their business. For this, we gather dif-
ferent points of view of the direct stakeholder groups by con-
ducting interviews. Eventually, this research will indicate more
closely to what extent STC can be considered a successful so-
cial enterprise by analysing how the enterprise focuses on eco-
nomic and social sustainability and, more specically, in what
way social, economic and environmental issues are integrated
into their business.
2. Literature review
Dahlsrud (2006) suggests that CSR can be divided into ve main
dimensions; environmental, social, economic, stakeholder and
voluntariness. Social entrepreneurship, given the attention to
a social mission whilst respecting economic and environmen-
tal goals, considerably overlaps with the rst three dimensions.
The stakeholders’ and voluntariness’ dimensions are equally
important to social entrepreneurship, as it has been discussed
in the literature that on the one hand, without close collabo-
ration with dierent stakeholders, social entrepreneurs would
not be able to achieve impact, and on the other hand, it is the
compassionate nature of social entrepreneurs to do good that
makes them volunteers of goodness.
In order to clarify the dierent and controversial theories and
approaches of CSR, Garriga and Melé (2004) have classied the
main CSR theories into four groups: instrumental theories, po-
litical theories, integrative theories and ethical theories. Within
this research, we have dened CSR as it is described in the in-
tegrative theory, in which the organisation focuses on the sat-
isfaction of social demands. The theory recognises the fact that
there is an implicit link between business and
society and that the organisation has more or
less an indirect obligation towards its society.
An important aspect of CSR is the stakehold-
ers’ participation. Stakeholders are groups
and individuals who can aect, or are aected by, the strategic
outcomes of a rm (Freeman, 1984). Clarkson (1995) divides
stakeholders into two main groups: primary and secondary
stakeholders. Primary stakeholders are usually the stakehold-
ers whose participation is necessary to ensure the survival of
the organisation, whereas secondary stakeholders are inu-
enced or aected by the organisation. It is important to recog-
nise all stakeholders involved in the activities of an organisa-
tion. Not only the recognition of stakeholders is necessary; the
same applies to involving them into the daily business and ac-
tivities of the organisation. Stakeholder management includes
gaining trust from stakeholders, communicating the current
actions of the organisation, involving stakeholders in strategic
decision-making processes, etc. By doing so, the organisation
gains extra benets for its business.
Volunteering for the needy
at local social enterprises
adds direct value to
Social Entrepreneurship Business Model and Challenges
Mitchell, Agle and Wood (1997) divide stakeholders into eight
dierent groups based upon three aspects; power, urgency
and legitimacy. The research of Vogel (2005) presents some
evidence that socially responsible investments can create an
additional value for some rms in specic circumstances.
Despite the fact that implementation of CSR can give the or-
ganisation a competitive advantage, it can also contain several
risks (Dentchev and Heugens, 2007). The research describes
two groups of risks that a CSR strategy can contain: organisa-
tional CSR risks (diluting managerial attention, non-productive
spending, stretching the organisational coalition, bad strategy
implementation) and relational CSR risks (legitimacy destruc-
tion, issue ownership, poor risk communication). They argue
that the implementation of CSR itself can also contain some
risks; if not implemented in a correct and careful way, it can in-
uence the organisation and diminish the organisation’s com-
petitive advantage. To avoid such risks the organisation needs
to align its CSR strategy with the general strategy of the core
business. This means that they need to carefully screen the
CSR investments in terms of its stakeholder benets, discount-
ed cash ows, the organisation’s interests and their coherence
with the external environment. They need to consider all of the
stakeholders’ interests, prioritise their strategic options, create
an implementation plan and communicate with the stakehold-
ers on a rational and emotional level.
3. Methodology
This qualitative research gathered several interviews in order
to create an in-depth understanding of the behaviour of STC as
a social enterprise. Additional information through a systemat-
ic collection of secondary data provided for the necessary tri-
angulation. We looked for information about STC and its social
value-creating network in secondary data, such as their own
website, events, other companies and news articles.
Given the necessity of specic information about the CSR strat-
egy of STC, we have conducted interviews that allowed us to
gather dierent perceptions of the several stakeholder groups.
An important issue herewith was the selection of the interview-
ees in order to generate a broad view and consequently mini-
mise the possibility for biased results. We opted for semi-struc-
tured interviews because this allowed us to ask more open
questions and to explore the dierent aspects into more detail
with the interviewee.
In the end we conducted ve semi-structured interviews with
four dierent stakeholder groups: management, employees,
clients and partners (Appendix 1). First, we gathered the point
of view of STC members, such as the top management (the CEO
and founder) and employees (CSR project coordinator). We
also interviewed three partners; MW, which is responsible for
the website development and graphic design of STC, BelgiBeer,
which organises beer tasting events, and “People to People In-
ternational” (PTPI), which organises programmes to enhance
social connections in communities around the world. However,
the last organisation can be considered to be both STC’s client
and partner, since STC has a business model in which it can
oer services to its partners. The targeted stakeholders were
interviewed based on dierent questionnaires in order to suit
the interests of the stakeholder groups they belong to.
Finally, we analysed the whole dataset in a conceptual frame-
work by comparing the dierent theoretical frameworks with
the secondary data and information collected through the
interviews. By intensively discussing the input from the inter-
views and comparing the views of the dierent stakeholders,
we were able to apply some relevant CSR theories on STC as
social enterprise and draw a general conclusion about its CSR
approach. This enabled us to discuss the social business mod-
el, social impact, challenges and critical success factors of STC
in detail.
4. Case Study
4.1 Background
STC is a Brussels non-prot organisation that provides services
to people in need. More specically, it is a global movement of
volunteers, which oer help and support to people in need.
By collaborating with local social-prot organisations, STC con-
nects the multiple volunteers to the several local social projects
that need attention. In fact, when comparing it to the prot sec-
tor, STC can be seen as the non-prot counterpart of a recruit-
ment agency that connects people to jobs.
Within the non-prot organisation movement, we see that
STC is a social enterprise. Their main objective is to achieve as
much social impact as possible in an entrepreneurial and in-
novative way, in order to reduce social issues to a minimum.
Another characteristic of a social enterprise is that its organi-
sation is built on a well-designed underlying operational model
that gives them the nancial viability needed in order to realise
their social mission in the long term (Weber Kröger & Demirtas,
According the organisation, STC was founded by a Brussels
Christian Faith Community called the Well in 2005. Initially, the
Well organised one week of social projects every year where it
Accountancy & Bedrijfskunde, 2016-3
connected to people in need and tried to get people involved
with local issues. Gradually, due to its success, STC was contin-
ued as a separate organisation. Throughout the years, it has be-
come a multinational social enterprise, active
in 100 cities in Europe, Africa, Latin America
and the USA. In Belgium itself, STC provides
services to the cities of Brussels, Sint-Truiden
and Leuven. In Brussels, STC is focusing on
strengthening the relations between the dif-
ferent neighbourhoods. Currently it is focus-
ing on the local needs of ve neighbourhoods
in Brussels: De Marollen, Schaarbeek, Sint
Kathelijne, Elsene and Etterbeek. It is planning
to expand its services to many other neigh-
bourhoods in the coming years.
STC has a very clear vision: connecting the needs with the re-
sources. The fundamental idea on which STC bases its core
activities is bringing together people who are willing to help
with the people who need help, by linking the volunteers with
the several serving opportunities. Therefore, the social aspect
is truly the cornerstone of its business and plays a central role
in the strategy of the organisation. Its long-term goal is to
eliminate the metaphorical line that divides a city between the
haves and the have-nots. STC’s business motto incorporates its
vision on crossing that line in the city:
“We know them by their needs. What if we knew them by name?
Cross the line. Serve the City.” (
STC’s business is twofold: serving projects together with the
local social-prot organisations and CSR projects with prot or-
ganisations. Concerning its serving projects, STC focuses on six
primary groups: homeless people, asylum seekers, the elderly,
disabled people, children in need and victims of abuse. Overall,
there are three dierent types of social projects.
First, the weekly volunteering opportunities allow the volun-
teers to help at the dierent local social associations, such as
refugee centres, asylum seekers’ residences, homeless shelters,
soup kitchens, orphanages, etc. There the volunteers engage
in simple activities with the people in need. This can be cook-
ing and serving a meal to the homeless, playing football with
refugees or asylum seekers, teaching underprivileged children,
cleaning up a specic part of the neighbourhood, and so on.
Secondly, STC organises dierent types of events on a month-
ly basis. These activities include interactive workshops, project
leader trainings and focus days. The monthly focus day is an
important activity of STC, because this day intends to explore
more about the dierent needs of the neighbourhoods and in-
forming people about the local issues by involving them in very
specic projects (
Finally, STC also has an annual ‘Big Volunteer
Week’, which is a week of special serving pro-
jects alongside the local social associations.
During this week, hundreds of volunteers
from all around the world join STC Brussels
to help. Furthermore, this is supposed to be
a week that brings people closer together and
promotes the core activities of STC. Usually
it is combined with street festivities in which
volunteers, friends and neighbours come to-
gether to watch local musicians and street
performers. Besides the many social projects, STC also organ-
ises team building events for its volunteers in order to create
strong relationships, such as running the 20 km of Brussels,
pub quizzes, etc.
Another side of STC’s business involves the organisation of cor-
porate volunteering events. Through these, STC aims at help-
ing companies in the private sector to improve their CSR strat-
egy. These corporate volunteering events give the opportunity
to be involved with local or global social projects and to get
closer to the community. Furthermore, STC gives advice about
their CSR strategy through consultations, team building activi-
ties, workshops, lectures and leadership development training.
By assisting corporations this way, STC is able to facilitate its
own volunteering projects with the resources and donations
of the private sector. Therefore, these corporate volunteering
events are seen as a strategy in which the corporations can
help STC to get closer to its goals by providing human and -
nancial resources, while STC helps them to connect more to
the community and involves them in local and global volun-
teering events (
5. Results
5.1. Social Impact
We classify STC as a social constructionist (Zahra et al. 2009).
Social constructionists are described as organisations with a
main focus of addressing a social issue. STC has a very clear
social mission, linking volunteers to people who need help. On
the one hand, they hope that by doing so, they can guarantee
help for those who would otherwise have diculties getting
help. On the other hand, they hope that by creating connec-
tions between people from dierent backgrounds, the social
gap will gradually close, and this will eventually transform
STC hopes that bonding
people from dierent
backgrounds will help
closing the social gap,
eventually transforming
neighbourhoods by
integrating socially
marginalised groups.
Social Entrepreneurship Business Model and Challenges
neighbourhoods by integrating socially marginalised groups of
people into society. Hence, we can say that STC focuses on ll-
ing gaps to underserved clients, being the people in need who
fall through the gaps of the social safety net.
The social issues addressed by STC are unfortunately an acute
problem for societies because the scope of local politics and
social security is limited. This means that STC is an enterprise
that exists to address an ongoing social need. Moreover, STC is
internationally active but centrally localised in Brussels. How-
ever, its core activities are always organised inside the scope of
the city in which they operate, since they accommodate their
activities to the local needs of the communities they serve. In
addition, STC faces the limits of a social constructionist (Zah-
ra et al, 2009), being highly dependent on human and capital
resources in order to achieve their mission. On one hand, it
needs willing volunteers and local non-prot organisations to
collaborate and participate, while on the other hand, it needs
corporations to collaborate with and donate their time and
money to the social initiatives.
Furthermore, the interview with the CSR project coordinator il-
lustrated that these sponsors, since they feel involved with the
social mission of the company, want to stay up to date on the
specic social project to which their money goes (R2). Finally,
because STC undertakes many social initiatives, the organisa-
tion needs to be well institutionalised and run by professional
volunteers and employees in order to guarantee going con-
cern. This limits STC in its business approach as it fully depends
on the skills and knowledge of volunteers.
In addition, it is important to determine how STC incorporates
CSR into its business. As discussed before, the social value cre-
ation of STC can be easily determined because it has a very
clear social mission. Therefore, all the projects it engages in
with the dierent non-prot associations create a certain so-
cial value for the community. This is two-sided: it does not only
help the people in need, but also fulls the needs of the volun-
teers who want to help, resulting in an overall contribution to
society (R1). Moreover, the CEO specically said: “Everything
we do falls in the CSR category” (R1). Therefore, we can say that
STC tries to align everything it does with its mission.
5.2. Critical success factors (CSF)
STC is an innovative social enterprise that has been successful
at developing some specic CSFs that directly aect the eec-
tiveness, eciency and viability of its social projects. Firstly, the
CEO of the organisation can be considered a very inuential
and strong leader. Overall, the interviews indicated that the
CEO and founder of the organisation is well respected and
shows strong leadership. During the collection of secondary
data, we also came across several news articles and interviews
with the CEO in which he represented the social image of the
company awlessly.
Secondly, the many partnerships represent the cornerstone of
the value-creating network of the enterprise. STC succeeds at
establishing sustainable relationships with local social associa-
tions and many corporations. More specically, it works closely
with Godiva, UPS, Hanover and the European Commission (R2).
The interview with STC explained the importance of transpar-
ent communication and feedback with the several partners.
External communication consists mostly of emails and face-to-
face meetings with the client in an informal setting. STC has
meetings with the specic partners in order to identify their
specic needs and interests. According to the needs of the part-
ner, its decides on an adapted approach, and organises a spe-
cic serving day that suits the interests and capabilities of the
team members. That way they try to customise the dierent
social projects to the partner in question, in order to maximise
the benets for both the corporation and the people they serve
(R2). When the project ends, a debrief takes place in order to
enhance the cooperation and consequently improve ongoing
relationships. Both the employee and the CEO have conrmed
that no major conicts have ever occurred (R1 and R2). In addi-
tion, the partners and clients claim that there have never been
any misunderstandings thanks to transparent communication
(R3, R4 and R5). Moreover, STC succeeds in negotiating with the
local public sector institutions. This is highly important since
STC is dependent on the dierent political structures in each
commune. The CEO of STC declared that there are no issues
with the cooperation with government institutions as they
support the initiative of STC to enforce integration of dierent
cultures in the neighbourhoods, and he conrmed that the or-
ganisation is in direct contact with the local authorities (R1).
Another CSF is the clear and innovative concept on which STC’s
core business is based. STC’s business is based on the principle
of helping people in need by letting people who want to serve
help. In fact, STC serves as a matchmaker between the needs
of a city and its resources (R1). By providing volunteers with
the opportunity to help people in need at local social enterpris-
es, STC found a simple and innovative way to add direct social
value to society. This way STC tries to allocate resources and
people eciently, thus improving the network of volunteering
opportunities and serving projects in cities. The view of STC is
the following: “Many people doing small things together can
make a big dierence” (R2).
Accountancy & Bedrijfskunde, 2016-3
Finally, we clearly see that local community engagement is a
crucial CSF for STC. Given that STC focuses on the local needs
of the dierent communes in Brussels, its success depends on
the engagement of the local stakeholders and beneciaries.
Thanks to sustainable relationships with volunteers and local
associations in the neighbourhoods, it has a strong local com-
munity network that keeps the business going. The CEO him-
self explained that STC always strives to strengthen relation-
ships between neighbours in the dierent communities (R1).
Consequently, STC keeps investing in these relationships and
by organising its yearly Big Volunteering Week, which is its big-
gest proling event and represents a city-wide initiation, it gets
all volunteers, employees and other people in the communities
together to create bonds in an informal situation. This allows
STC to engage with the dierent stakeholders on another level.
To summarise, the strong leadership elements, as well as the
partnerships and local engagements are essential to the suc-
cess of a social enterprise, which is to be found in both stake-
holder management theory, as well as in the social entrepre-
neurship’s literature on success factors (Wronka, 2013).
5.3. Challenges
One of the biggest challenges for STC is nding nancial re-
sources. In order to nance the supplies, materials and trans-
portation costs of the several social projects, it is mostly de-
pendent on donations and partnerships with companies will-
ing to invest. The income generated through the several CSR
projects with partners is reinvested in a specic project, which
is the development of pop-up learning labs in poor areas (R2).
However, for all other social projects and events, it depends
on donations made by individuals, governments and corpora-
tions, and fundraising events organised in collaboration with
other companies (R3). This puts a big constraint on the scope
of its social initiatives, and forces STC to think about other ways
to nance its activities.
Moreover, scalability also proves to be a challenge for STC. Be-
ing a small organisation, with six people in the executive team
and around thirty sta members, the organisation is not always
well prepared to handle a growing amount of work. The busi-
ness model of STC is not built in a way that oers potential for
economic growth. The company considers itself a grassroots
organisation, i.e. a collectivist organisation whose activists seek
to bring change at the local level. Therefore, it is not actively
looking at ways to grow in the short run (R1). Furthermore, the
organisation is limited in capacity due to the limitations in their
overall resources, such as human capital and property.
Another challenge relates to the stakeholder management.
Given that STC’s business is highly dependent on stakehold-
er engagement, it is very important for STC to proactively deal
with conicting interests and needs of the dierent stake-
holders. Even though it has a sustainable network with close
partnerships and high community engagement, ecient stake-
holder management remains a continuous challenge. The CEO
acknowledged the diculty of considering so many interests.
Therefore, he said that STC focuses on transparent commu-
nication with the dierent stakeholders and closely examines
whether partnerships are mutually benecial; it only engages
when they share similar objectives in order to avoid issues (R1).
This became clear in the interview with the stakeholders, who
all share the same vision regarding social engagement (R3, R4
and R5). Also internally, STC invests tremendously in stakehold-
er engagement. By involving the sta in all activities with clear
communication and weekly meetings, STC succeeds in engag-
ing its employees. Moreover, employees claim that they feel
appreciated; they are given freedom in their responsibilities
and STC takes decisions collectively (R1 and R2).
Measuring impact is extremely challenging for a social enter-
prise and STC is apparently no exception to that. Contrary to a
for-prot organisation, the impact of a social enterprise cannot
be measured by its prots. Although the social value that STC
creates for the communities in Brussels is easy to observe, it
is not easy to measure. In fact, social enterprises need a triple
bottom line to measure the economic benets of the company
and the impact on social and environmental areas, but plan-
ning this triple bottom line is a true challenge (Wronka, 2013).
STC itself focuses on its social impact by using following key
performance indicator: number of volunteers multiplied by
time invested per volunteer (R1).
STC continuously deals with social and cultural barriers, due
to the international context of the company. Here we found
a mismatch between STC’s point of view and the one of the
stakeholders. Although STC claims that it does not encounter
diculties with cultural or social barriers, the stakeholders
clearly state that they do notice a cultural barrier in the rela-
tionship (R3, R4). According to them, the business culture of
STC is highly inuenced by American ideals and the Christian
religion, since the founder is an American pastor. They deter-
mine that this culture clash can sometimes pose a problem in
the relationship (R3, R4). These barriers could maybe generate
reluctance towards cooperating with STC and consequently
limit its business scope.
In general, social enterprises have to cope with the challeng-
es concerning legitimacy and mission drift in order to be
perceived as a credible social enterprise that fulls its social
Social Entrepreneurship Business Model and Challenges
mission (Wronka, 2013). However, STC does not encounter
any diculties in this area. We notice that STC is a legitimate
organisation, since its partners and clients (R3, R4 and R5) per-
ceive it as a true social value-creating organisation. Moreover,
the stakeholders are well aware of the core business and mis-
sion of STC. Also internally, employees share the vision of STC
and work together to achieve the same goal (R2). Furthermore,
since STC has a credible social mission incorporated into all
activities, STC is not confronted with the problem of mission
drift. The CEO himself emphasised STC’s strong commitment
to integrate the core values of their mission into their activities:
“Humility, compassion, respect, courage, love and hope; these
are our core values. If these values are not present in our own
team, then we have no credibility of leading something out-
side” (R1).
6. Conclusion
We conclude that STC is a successful social enterprise for many
dierent reasons. STC, as a social constructionist, has a clear
social mission and contributes directly to its environment by
addressing ongoing social needs. In addition, this case study
shows that the social business model of STC incorporates all
ve crucial principles that make a sustainable business model.
First, the core business of STC is based on a basic business
logic that consists of connecting existing needs with existing
resources. Second, STC has a sustainable value-creating net-
work consisting of motivated volunteers, local associations,
several corporations and local authorities. Third, cooperative
organising is the core of its business. By closely cooperating in
every social project from beginning to end with local non-prot
associations, corporations and partnerships with other social
enterprises for specic projects, STC is able to eciently un-
dertake social projects and address the social needs eective-
ly. Fourth, STC encloses an eective strategic choice process,
which enables STC to make sustainable strategic decisions.
By choosing strategically, using a systematic decision-making
process, which projects to take on and whom to collaborate
with, STC can guarantee to stay focused on its social mission
and generate social impact eciently. Last but not least, STC
has a multiple value creation proposition. With a clear focus
on social impact, STC focuses on nancial, environmental and
social issues according to the needs of the dierent stakehold-
ers. Serving not only the needs of corporations by organising
workshops and teambuilding events, but also the needs of the
focus groups through partnerships, intense networking and
fundraising events, STC succeeds in nding nancial resources
to full its economic needs and address the social needs that
are part of its mission, although with minor attention to envi-
ronmental issues.
Nevertheless, we determined the limitations of STC’s CSR man-
agement and the challenges that threaten its going concern.
Since STC’s core business revolves around addressing social
needs of specic focus groups, environmental issues are over-
looked. The scope of SCR activities is therefore limited to social
benets, which is a point of criticism. Therefore, we conclude
that CSR is indeed integrated into the business model, but due
to the limitations in STC’s CSR scope, the impact of their CSR
activities is also restricted in some ways. If STC were to include
environmental issues into its business, it would have a more
balanced CSR management. This issue also arises when talking
about STC’s lack of triple bottom planning. It is recommended
that STC nds new ways to take economic, social and environ-
mental benets into consideration as a way of determining its
CSR impact.
In general, we consider STC to have a strong stakeholder man-
agement strategy. Thanks to transparent communications and
informal relationships with the dierent stakeholder groups,
STC succeeds in developing strong relations. However, due to
the high dependence of its business on stakeholder engage-
ment and partnerships, this remains a continuous challenge.
We recommend that STC should continuously work on these
relationships in order to guarantee improvements and stability
in the long term. Besides, an important remark to be made,
STC only focuses on their primary stakeholder groups and
not on the secondary ones. In the future, STC could expand
its scope by taking into consideration the interests of indirect
stakeholders. Lastly, we can conclude that although CSR has
a strong social value proposition and solid value-creating net-
work, it is obliged to invest continuously in order to improve
its business and adjust to the constant changing environment.
Therefore, STC should immediately deal with its main challeng-
es by investing in the further development of its competencies
and resources in order to strengthen its CSFs and increase fu-
ture success.
Accountancy & Bedrijfskunde, 2016-3
Appendix 1. Interview Respondents
Name Type of
Contacts Responsible
Status Code
STC Firm/CEO Carlton Deal brussels@
Soe, Elise Interview on 13th
of April at 13h
STC Employee Julianne brussels@
Soe, Elise Interview on 13th
of April at 12h
Ceccarelli Anna, Klinta Interview on 12th
of April at 9h30h
People to
Anna, Klinta Interview on 18th
of April at 17h30
MW Partners Jeremie
Malengreaux, +32 2
318 02 88
Jurri Interview on 13th
of April at 14h
Jurri Bekkers is a Master Student of Management Science at
the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), specialised in Management,
international economics and network industries. His main in-
terests are in the areas of international relations and European
Integration. @:
Klinta Mantina is a Master Student of Management Science
at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), specialised in Manage-
ment, Consultancy and Analytics. Her main interests are in the
areas of Payment systems and mobile payments.
Anna Silagadze is a Master Student of Management Science
at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), specialised in Manage-
ment, international economics and trade. Her main interests
are in the areas of Economic aspects of Russia and Eurasian
Customs Union and international business development.
Soe Truyts is a Master Student of Management Science at the
Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), specialised in Project Manage-
ment and Strategic Consulting. Her main interests are in the ar-
eas of social-prot sector and macroeconomic policy making.
Elise Van der Cruysse is a Master Student of Management
Science at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), specialised in
public sector and international economics. Her main interests
are in the areas of consulting and gender equality.
Belz., M. (2016, May 22). Brussels pastor: ‘Our city is in pain.
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Dahlsrud, A. (2008). How corporate social responsibility is
dened: an analysis of 37 denitions. Corporate social responsi-
bility and environmental management, 15(1), 1-13.
Freeman, R. E. (2010). Strategic management: A stakeholder
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Impact in Europe. Gütersloh, Germany: Bertelsmann Stiftung.
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typology of social entrepreneurs; motives, search processes and
ethical challenges. Journal of Business Venturing. 24 (5): 519-532.
This paper aims at exploring the business model of Tejo. We wish to understand its business model
and underlying mechanisms that lead to success, as well as reveal the challenges and critical suc-
cess factors social entrepreneurs encounter. Social entrepreneurship is considered within the mental
healthcare sector in this paper. We analysed ‘Tejo’, an organisation that is engaged in the psychother-
apeutic assistance to youngsters between ten and twenty years old, working with professionals who
on a voluntary basis want to help out youngsters. We explore the business model, social impact, key
success factors and challenges through ve semi-structured in-depth interviews with both internal and
external stakeholders.
We verkennen in dit onderzoek het businessmodel, de uitdagingen en kritische succesfactoren van Tejo.
Wij willen haar businessmodel en de onderliggende mechanismen die leiden tot succes begrijpen, even-
als de uitdagingen en de kritische succesfactoren van sociale ondernemers blootleggen. We beschou-
wen een sociale onderneming in de geestelijke gezondheidszorg. We verkennen ‘Tejo’, een organisatie
die zich bezighoudt met de psychotherapeutische hulp aan jongeren tussen de tien en twintig jaar oud.
Deze werkt samen met professionals die op vrijwillige basis jongeren willen helpen. We onderzoeken
het businessmodel, sociale impact, de belangrijkste succesfactoren en uitdagingen door middel van vijf
semigestructureerde diepte-interviews met zowel interne als externe stakeholders.
Key words: business model, health care, social impact, critical success factors, sustainabi-
lity, social entrepreneurship
1. Introduction
Tejo stands for ‘therapeuten voor jongeren’
(‘therapists for youngsters’) and is the rst
initiative of a non-prot organisation called
Jeugdtherapeuten zonder grenzen vzw’ (‘Youth
therapists without frontiers’). In 2009, found-
er Ingrid De Jonghe noticed an increase in the
amount of youngsters in special child welfare
in Flanders. This amount had been rising since
2000, due to major changes in society. There-
fore, the enormous lack of rst-line counsel-
ling for young people with mental problems
causes long waiting lists for second and third-
line aid. As a result, a lot of them do not get
the help they need. Mrs. Strijpens, clinical psy-
chologist at the Centre for General Wellbeing
in Brussels, (personal interview 5, May 3rd
2016) agrees with these ndings but also adds
that the increase in demand for psychological
assistance is partly caused by the profession,
which gained interest the last few years. Tejo
provides approachable, rst-line therapeutic
aid for these youngsters which prevents the
problems from aggravating. Professional ther-
apists who work as volunteers in the organisa-
tion can assist you instantly during a number
of short conversations, free of charge. These
conversations are anonymous and free of ob-
ligation. The approach that is used during the
conversations is aimed at helping the young
person in regaining his/her feeling for com-
petence in order to get their problems under
Social Entrepreneurship Business
Model and Challenges: an Explorative
Case Study of Tejo
An Bontemps
Jordi Broos
Benjamin D’Hertefelt
Cedric Everaerts
Thomas Mosselmans
Michael Peeters
Allen Masterstudent Vrije
Universiteit Brussel (VUB)
Accountancy & Bedrijfskunde, 2016-3
The organisation’s mission statement demonstrates a clear
devotion to a social problem, which is a dierentiating char-
acteristic for social enterprises (“Helping young people in their
growth to adulthood). Tejo is a exible but simple organisa-
tion with little administrative burden which has proven to be
very eective. They have expanded their network to Mechelen,
Ghent, Kortrijk, Bruges, Lier, Ronse and Kempen-Turnhout (Tejo,
2016). Mrs. Baetens, professor in Psychology at VUB, (personal
interview 4, April 11th 2016) stated that expansion to Brussels
would certainly create more value. There is even a proposal to
expand abroad. It is important to mention that these dierent
branches are legally and nancially independent organisations.
2. Methodology
We conducted a qualitative research for this case study, based
on ve in-depth interviews with both internal and external
stakeholders of Tejo. This allowed us to gather dierent per-
ceptions of several stakeholder groups, which would lead to
more consistent and objective data, in order to generate a
broad view and consequently minimise the possibility for bi-
ased results. We opted for semi-structured interviews because
this allowed us to ask more open questions and to explore the
dierent aspects into more detail with the interviewee. We had
the pleasure to speak to the founder of Tejo in Antwerp, Mrs.
Ingrid De Jonghe, together with the communication manager,
Mrs. Lieve Van Boxem, and the nancial manager, Mr. Marc
Van Eeckhoudt. To have an external view on the organisation
we also interviewed Prof. Dr. Imke Baetens, who is a psychol-
ogy professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and Mrs. Cathe-
rine Strijpens, a clinical psychologist at the Centrum Algemeen
Welzijnswerk (CAW) in Brussels. CAW operates in a dierent
way compared to Tejo, although one of their target groups is
the same.
Table 1: Interview Respondents
Tejo Naam Functie
Personal Interview 1 Ingrid De Jonghe Founder of Tejo
Personal Interview 2 Lieve Van Boxem Communication Manager Tejo
Personal Interview 3 Marc van EeckHoudt Board member and head of Finance Tejo
Personal Interview 4 Professor Dr. Imke Baetens Psychology Professor Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Personal Interview 5 Catherine Strijpens Clinical Psychologist at Centre for General Wellbeing
We also systematically gathered secondary data, based on
reports, events, news articles and information from various
websites, to further triangulate the ndings of the interviews.
This allowed us to gather an in-depth understanding of the so-
cial enterprise’s business model. In the following sections, we
elaborate on Tejo’s business model, the value it creates for the
youngsters as well as society as a whole and points of success
and improvement.
3. Business model
Tejo oers professional guidance to youngsters, suering from
a variety of problems such as relationship problems, depres-
sion, negative self-image, behavioural problems, processing of
trauma, stress, etc. In contrast to regular therapeutic centres,
Tejo provides youngsters with immediate guidance without an
appointment. As mentioned, they oer psychological guidance
to youngsters between ten and twenty years old, but most of
them (65 %) are between 13 and 17 years old. These young-
sters are boys (35 %) as well as girls (65 %), from all kinds of
educational levels and mostly born in Belgium (80 %). Although
most of them are Belgian, Tejo contributors face the challenges
of a multicultural society on a daily basis.
Tejo almost exclusively works with volunteers: professional
therapists, lawyers, translators who are willing to add a few
(two to six) hours to their workweek to contribute to society.
They do not bear any major administrative burden within Tejo,
allowing them to focus on doing their job. This focus on the
job setting combined with a positive atmosphere are the rea-
sons why volunteers often nd their work at Tejo much more
Social Entrepreneurship Business Model and Challenges: an Explorative Case Study of Tejo
rewarding. Working with volunteers also has its downside: the
organisation has a sta turnover of 30 %. Board member and
head of nance Marc Van Eeckhoudt (personal interview 3,
April 4th, 2016) acknowledges that, in the organisation’s cur-
rent situation, it should focus more on nding new volunteers
instead of nding more youngsters.
Since the service given by Tejo is free, Tejo is
almost entirely dependent on subsidies from
the city of Antwerp and funds such as the
Koning Boudewijnstichting for its nancial con-
tinuity. Given their essential support to those
who are in need of wellbeing and psycholog-
ical guidance, Tejo doesn’t fear their subsidies might be taken
away. Other forms of revenues include donations, fundraisers
(such as the Rode Neuzen Dag) and giving lectures. The money
they gather is used for rent, electricity and internet bills, oce
supplies and two receptionists. As mentioned before, all the
other contributors work for free.
It is important to understand that the business model we
mentioned before applies only to Tejo Antwerp. When a new
branch of Tejo decides to open in another city, the whole oper-
ation is unique to the new Tejo. The oce in Antwerp does not
meddle in the aairs of newly opened Tejo branches. However,
a monthly joint meeting is organised with core members of all
Tejo branches to exchange information about the evolution of
the rms.
4. Social impact
Ingrid De Jonghe, founder and CEO of Tejo, discovered a rel-
evant problem in modern day society. The waitlists for men-
tal health services were way too high. Studies also report that
there was an unmet need for mental help for children (Katao-
ka, Zhang, & Wells, 2002). Children who were trying to use the
service could not even enter because of these waitlists. This
eventually led to cases where certain children in a depressed
phase could not get the help they needed. It is clear that Tejo
in itself exists for the sole purpose of helping children and
guiding them through a tense phase in their lives. When dis-
cussing certain cases in the interview, we understood the ef-
fect of Tejo on some lives. For illustrative purposes, we explain
this through two anecdotes, such as in one case a child who
was successfully helped from bullying traumas. Later this child
came back to Tejo and asked them for guidance on how to help
her classmate, who was now being bullied herself. In another
case, a girl came to Tejo as a last resort, as she was prepared to
end her life if Tejo had not been there.
Next to their consultancies, aecting the lives of numerous
children with problems, Tejo also launched a comic book, fo-
cused on the theme of bullying, throughout dierent schools
in Flanders. They got into contact with children, letting them
know about Tejo as well as the eect bullying has on other chil-
dren. By distributing the comics in schools for free, they try to
inuence the atmosphere in classrooms and handle bullying
problems before they even arise. The “CAW”
(personal interview 5, May 3d, 2016) has an-
other approach for inuencing classrooms.
They prefer to go to the schools and start
open discussions with the children. Neverthe-
less, the interviewee found the comic a very
interesting approach because this way the children were ad-
dressed more personally. The use of more innovative ways to
try and impact society was certainly appreciated by the CAW.
As previously mentioned Tejo exists to provide free and easily
accessible mental help to children. So in the rst place it exists
to cure children/youngsters from previous traumas. However,
this is not the only reason for the existence of Tejo. While inter-
viewing the nancial manager (personal interview 3, April 4th,
2016) of Tejo, we asked for the general purpose of the organi-
sation. The answer he gave was a very peculiar one. To him the
main purpose of Tejo is to not have to exist anymore in the fu-
ture. What he was trying to say is that normally a company like
Tejo shouldn’t even exist in the rst place. To him it is the duty
of the government to provide mental assistance to all children.
Basically, a society where no Tejo is needed is a society where
the government can handle the demand by itself. It shows that
Tejo certainly has an impact on the government as, in some
way, they are helping them in their duty.
Another aspect that Tejo wants to inuence is the reduction of
the amount of paperwork psychiatrists need to process. The -
nancial manager told us that when psychiatrists work for a gov-
ernment institute, 70 % of their time is spent towards conduct-
ing paperwork and the remaining 30 % towards providing psy-
chological help. Our Dutch neighbours reported to conducting
bureaucracy almost of the time (Bogels, 2008). Decreasing
the amount of paperwork is also one of the main purposes for
Tejo and therefore another impact on the government.
Another interesting aspect that Tejo provides is a good learn-
ing and working environment to psychiatrists. One volunteer
reported in the magazine Metrotime (2016) that she loved
working for the organisation and that after 4 years she is still
learning things every day. Tejo makes her feel appreciated and
supported. Ingrid De Jonghe also noted during her interview
that it is not dicult to motivate the volunteers. Working for
Tejo CFO: “Our main
purpose is to not exist
anymore in the future.”
Accountancy & Bedrijfskunde, 2016-3
Tejo gives the volunteers energy as in the end they do what
they like to do, which is providing help to children.
Finally, four main impacts can be derived. One evidently being
the impact on the children’s lives themselves. Secondly they
try to prevent problems from arising by inuencing school
atmosphere in the rst place. The third is an impact on gov-
ernment policies with the purpose of changing the workings
of mental health services in general. Providing a good working
and learning environment to psychiatrists can be seen as the
nal impact.
5. Critical success factors
Entrepreneurship involves entrepreneurs that have a certain
vision, equipped with leadership skills and power to operation-
alise the vision, willing to build something, which will grow and
endure in the long run. This involves nding suitable partners
and engaging the support of helpers, sometimes voluntary.
Thompson, Alvy and Lees (2000) stated that entrepreneurship
comprises an idea and the ensuing action, which brings desir-
able outcomes.
As stated in Thompson, Alvy and Lees (2000), social entre-
preneurship needs some combination of people with vision-
ary ideas, people with leadership skills and a commitment to
make things happen, and people commit-
ted to helping others. In the same work we
nd proof that people from deprived back-
grounds or people that are close to a specic
matter are more likely to get involved in social
entrepreneurship. This is ideal for the success
of social entrepreneurships, because they are
most likely more willing to help the commu-
In our interviews conducted we found several key success fac-
tors that are stated above. The most important aspect of the
key success factors is the vision. Tejo searches the easiest and
most innovative way to oer assistance to youngsters. They
want to attract attention from the right authorities to be able to
form a correct assistance towards youngsters. Tejo also wants
to participate in the social movements that appeal to solidari-
ty in society, in order to have equal growth possibilities for all
youngsters to become an adult. This work can only be achieved
with the help of professionals or people that are close to this
specic matter.
In several interviews it was said that Tejo employs profession-
al therapeutists on a voluntary basis. These therapists benet
from a gain in experience while they’re working at Tejo. They
are also continuously guided in their work. The workers at Tejo
have the opportunity to participate, as much as they desire,
in various kinds of training sessions. With the aspects above,
Tejo wants to maintain a certain level of professionalism of the
therapists working, on voluntary basis, for Tejo.
Tejo is also a free service and they guarantee total anonymity.
Hereby they try to reach all types of youngsters in who are ex-
periencing diculties. They dierentiate themselves from the
“CLB”, which is an authority active in the secondary education
system. Ingrid De Jonghe (personal interview 1, April 4th, 2016)
told us that Tejo is becoming a movement, in the sense that
they want to shake up the youngsters to show more solidarity
and kindness towards each other. This is also stated in their
vision: they want to give everyone equal chances to grow prop-
In the theoretical section it is stated that entrepreneurship
also means having growth potential. In all our interviews our
respondents made clear that Tejo wants to grow and open
more oces in Flanders, Brussels and possibly Europe. Pro-
fessor Imke Baetens (personal interview, April 11th, 2016) sup-
ports the project and thinks it will be a good case to have a
Tejo in Brussels. The last few years she noticed an increase in
the number of youngsters who needed help, and she thinks
that Tejo is a big step forward in oering the youngsters the
help they need. The fact that they work with
volunteers is smart because she believes that
the motivation is bigger and that they work
harder but it is an emotionally demanding job.
Later on she is willing to join the organisation
as a volunteer herself. Most of the time the
volunteers work at the organisation in their
free time. We thus could conclude from this
that they want to share their experience and professionalism
to help the cause that Tejo is defending, which also is a key
aspect in social entrepreneurship.
6. Challenges
Every organisation, protable or non-protable, has to deal
with challenges that are specic to the company. These chal-
lenges can change over time due to several reasons. These rea-
sons can include economic, cultural, political, environmental
changes. Mrs. Ingrid De Jonghe (personal interview 1, April 4th,
2016) explained that with the existing CGG’s (centra geestelijke
gezondheidszorg), there is a problem to give fast help to chil-
dren due to the long waiting lists.
Catering for the growing
needs of society, Tejo makes
important contributions to
the lives of youngsters.
Social Entrepreneurship Business Model and Challenges: an Explorative Case Study of Tejo
The rst challenge is situated in the collabo-
ration between the Tejo oces. All the oces
are independent organisations with their own
chairman and structure, working towards the
same purpose. A good cooperation is needed
to learn from each other’s experiences and to help children the
best way possible. Once a month they have a meeting and sit
together to discuss the problems and new opportunities that
arise. With the upcoming technologies and social media, new
possibilities to cooperate are emerging and lead to faster and
more ecient action.
Mrs. Lieve Van Boxem (personal interview 2, April 4th, 2016),
communication ocer at Tejo Antwerp, told us that the use
of social media is helping them in several ways: they enable
better coordination between the dierent oces, easier and
cheaper ways of advertising and better communication meth-
ods with the youngsters. In the beginning, Mrs. De Jonghe gave
lectures in primary schools and high schools to get into contact
with their target audience. Nowadays websites, group chats,
yers and even the organisation’s Facebook page are making it
easier to reach youngsters with mental health issues.
Another challenge for Tejo is to nd enough people to work
with. As time passes, for some existing members it may be
dicult to keep up with Tejo. Examples are childbirth, moving
to other places and unforeseen circumstances. Not only the
quantity of volunteers is a concern; also the right people are
needed. Appropriate education and the proper skills are nec-
essary together with strong motivation. Most of the volunteers
are employed full-time in a professional career, and are avail-
able to work for Tejo two to six hours per week. This approach
is dierent from that of the CAW (personal interview, May 3th,
2016). The CAW provides help to people but with a dierent
approach. Both children and adults are welcome to talk about
their problems. Another dierence between Tejo and CAW is
that CAW employees get paid. CAW not only provides psycho-
logical assistance but also other services such as housing and
legal help.
Aside from coordination, growth and raising voluntary sta,
nancing the services poses a major challenge. Tejo needs to
nd ways and possibilities to gather enough earnings to en-
sure its existence. At the start, Mrs. De Jonghe gave lectures
in primary and high schools for free, but now she asks a little
fee to speak in front of the classes. A second important part
is the cooperation with partners who provide donations and
make advertising for Tejo. Other funding to Tejo comes from
dierent companies and people. The city of Antwerp also pro-
vides a subsidy for the rent of the Antwerp oce. Each year
Tejo organises a running event where peo-
ple can “run for Tejo”. The last few years this
event has been booming and Tejo is becom-
ing more and more popular. The nal reason
why Tejo needs revenue is the potential for
international development. Mr. Mark Van Eeckhoudt (personal
interview 3, April 4th, 2016) told us that there are ideas to begin
an oce in München, Germany. This big step abroad has not
been conrmed yet. Mr. Van Eeckhoudt has also tried to raise
money through sponsorship, but this was against the will of
the other psychiatrists.
Overall, Mrs. De Jonghe indicates the need for a strong moti-
vation over time to continue expanding Tejo. Other challenges
mentioned are reaching the right people and inuencing them,
continuing to write articles in newspapers, integrating into oth-
er places, searching for volunteers and making a second com-
ic book. The ultimate purpose of all of these challenges is to
make a better world, being more social, helping each other and
making sure that every child that needs psychological help, can
be supported in a good manner.
7. Conclusion
The non-prot organisation Tejo provides professional aid to
youngsters between ten and twenty with mental health di-
culties. Launched in 2009 in response to the long waiting lists in
mental health care, this organisation can rely on professional
volunteers to provide fast and free access to those in need.
Since its inception, it has known increasing success, having a
social impact on a large number of young people. Not only
does the organisation help individuals with therapeutic conver-
sations, but Tejo also gets the attention of teachers and school
students by means of their comic book, distributed freely. Al-
though the professional nature of their service creates their
strength, nding enough professional psychiatrists who want
to work on a voluntary basis is a challenge. Aside from this,
as the services are free of charge, nancing whole operations
is quite intensive, as they rely mostly on subsidies, company
sponsoring and donations. Tejo has more ambitions for growth
and wants to further develop itself in order to achieve more in
the future.
An Bontemps is a Master Student of Management at the Vrije
Universiteit Brussel (VUB), specialised in Management.
We want to be a
movement. We want to be
Accountancy & Bedrijfskunde, 2016-3
Jordi Broos is a Master Student in Business Engineering at the
Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), specialised in Entrepreneur-
ship and Strategy. His main interests are in the areas of electric
vehicles and electric infrastructures and implementation.
Benjamin D’Hertefelt is a Master Student in Business Engi-
neering at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), specialised in
Business and Technology. His main interests are in the areas of
nance, technology and IT.
Cedric Everaerts is a Master Student in Applied Economics at
the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), specialised in Management.
Thomas Mosselmans is a Master Student in Applied Econom-
ics at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), specialised in Man-
agement. His main interests are in the areas of Green Business,
HR and the automotive industry.
Michael Peeters is a Master Student in Applied Economics at
the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), specialised in Management.
Bögels, G. (2008, April 2). Psychiaters gaan ten onder
aan bureaucratie 1. Retrieved from
De Jonghe, I. (2013). Toveren met jongeren in woelige tijden.
Hoe therapeuten vrijwillig jongeren helpen hun koers te varen.
Tielt: Uitgeverij Lannoo nv.
Kataoka, S. H., Zhang, L., & Wells, K. B. (2002). Unmet need
for mental health care among US children: Variation by ethnic-
ity and insurance status. American Journal of Psychiatry, 159(9),
Psychiaters gaan ten onder aan bureaucratie 1. (2016, April
18) Retrieved from
Tejo. (2016). Missie en visie. Retrieved 29 March 2016, from
Tejo. (2016). TEJO-aanpak. Retrieved 29 March 2016, from
Thompson, J., Alvy, G., & Lees, A. (2000). Social entrepreneur-
ship – a new look at the people and the potential. Management
Decision, 38, 328–338.
Boekbespreking: “Hoek Af -
21 Buitengewone Ondernemers en
Start-Ups” van Eric Kenis
Belgen staan eerder bekend omwille van hun
culinaire voorkeuren en bouwontwikkelingen,
en niet zozeer wanneer het op ondernemer-
schap aankomt. Inderdaad, België scoort als
een van de slechtste in de Europese Unie over
de afgelopen jaren als het er bijvoorbeeld op
aankomt om een onderneming op te starten.
We staan er tevens om bekend om redelijk
risico-avers te zijn, een eigenschap die niet
goed samengaat met het on-
dernemen. En toegegeven,
wanneer je aan een onder-
nemer-rolmodel denkt, ga je
al snel kijken naar Steve Jobs
of Bill Gates. Moet het echt
een Belgische ondernemer
zijn? Dan krijgen we de uit-
zonderingen zoals Marc Coucke of Gert Ver-
hulst steevast voor ons bord gepresenteerd.
Met andere woorden, Belgen zijn slechts in
uitzonderlijke gevallen ondernemers. Het is
dan ook nog uitzonderlijker indien ze succes-
vol blijken te zijn.
Eric Kenis doorbreekt enigszins dit stereotype
aan de hand van 21 buitengewone Belgische
ondernemers die hij, naar eigen zeggen met
genoegen, heeft mogen opvolgen in de afgelo-
pen acht jaren. Eric is eerst directeur geweest
van BLCC, een organisatie die al 25 jaar lang
taalopleidingen aanbiedt. Daarnaast is hij zelf
ondernemer geweest in de taaltechnologie-
sector in Gent. Hij is tevens directeur geweest
van het dienstenluik in Voka-West-Vlaande-
ren, en hij heeft ook meegewerkt aan de ge-
boorte van Bryo, een netwerk van jonge on-
dernemers die hun ideeën willen uitwerken.
Eric heeft doorheen zijn carrière altijd al een
passie voor het ondernemerschap gehad, het-
geen hem dan ook niet verwonderlijk tot het
schrijven van dit boek heeft geleid. Hiernaast
is hij ook rond entrepreneurial learning aan de
Antwerp Management School actief door ver-
schillende projecten uit te werken.
Eric beschrijft in zijn boek “Hoek Af” verschil-
lende ondernemers, actief in verschillende
sectoren (klassiekere sectoren zoals de IT- en
hightechsector komen aan bod, maar ook
ecologische en sociale ondernemers komen
aan bod). Doorheen zijn boek “een hoek af”
(want inderdaad, dat zijn niet de typische Bel-
gen zoals hierboven beschreven), merk ik enig
enthousiasme en sympathie
voor deze ondernemers. En
terecht! Elke ondernemer
in dit boek heeft, op zijn of
haar eigen manier, bergen
weten te verzetten. Maar het
is geen “rozengeur en ma-
neschijn”-boek. Zowel suc-
cesverhalen alsook minder aangename mo-
menten worden naar boven gehaald, net als
levenslessen en ervaringen van deze unieke
ondernemers. Dit allemaal samen zorgt voor
een ware bron van inspiratie voor eenieder
die interesse heeft in het ondernemerschap
in België.
Het ondernemerschap – een
Eric verwijst met de term “een hoek af” naar
deze ondernemers omwille van hun serieu-
ze (doch gezonde) dosis aan ambitie, durf en
wilskracht en beslissingen die “normale” per-
sonen niet direct zouden nemen. Om het in de
woorden van Steve Jobs te zeggen, “mensen
die goed gek zijn, zijn zij die denken dat ze de
wereld kunnen veranderen en het ook doen.”
Elke besproken ondernemer in dit boek heeft
oog voor innovatie, gaande van een nieuw
product, proces, idee of visie dat als doel heeft
de organisatie zelf of de samenleving te ver-
beteren. Elk op hun beurt leggen de onderne-
Philippe Eiselein
Onderzoeker aan de Vrije
Universiteit Brussel
Eric Kenis
Auteur “Hoek Af -
21 Buitengewone
Ondernemers en Startups”
en Project Manager
aan Antwerp School of
Het ondernemerschap tout
court. Ik zou bijna zeggen een
soort van idealisme, maar
centraal is het passie of
Accountancy & Bedrijfskunde, 2016-3
mers ook uit vanwaar die drang naar het ondernemen kwam.
Dit leidt tot het klassieke debat van ‘born versus made’, ‘nature
versus nurture’. In het boek komt het aangeboren aspect naar
voren, want vaak blijkt het in de persoon te zitten, nog voor dat
er iets van ‘cultivatie’ aan bod kwam. Eric minimaliseert echter
het belang van vorming niet. Dat blijkt ook uit de verschillende
ondernemers’ ervaring met incubators en mentors. Uiteindelijk
delen ze allemaal hetzelfde wat voor de nodige drive zorgt, en
dat is passie. En passie, dat heb je in je, of niet.
Ondernemers, gebeten door een passie, komen vaak obstakels
tegen tijdens hun ondernemende avontuur. Het is dankzij die
passie dat ze de nodige koppigheid weten te vertonen en kun-
nen doorbijten doorheen de moeilijkere periodes. Moeilijke pe-
riodes voor ondernemers kunnen bijvoorbeeld momenten zijn
waar de onderneming het nancieel moeilijk heeft, er een over-
name plaatsneemt of waarbij de oprichters onderlinge span-
ningen opbouwen. Ter illustratie van het eerste geval: Dennis
Vangeneugden, oprichter van Medianeut, “deed langer over de
onderhandelingen met business angels dan de samenwerking
heeft geduurd”. Maarten Vandenbrouck, oprichter van Ticto,
werd reeds overgenomen na 3,5 jaar. In het derde geval is Maxi-
me Carpentier de enige overblijvende oprichter van ZeroCopy
nadat er redelijk wat spanningen waren tussen de oprichters on-
derling. Doorheen het boek valt weliswaar op dat succesvolle on-
dernemers matching and complementary partners nodig hebben.
Het Belgisch ecosysteem
Zoals eerder vermeld vinden ondernemers, naast hun eigen
passie, gelukkig soelaas bij enkele incubators, centra waar on-
dernemers samen worden gezet en hun ervaringen en kennis
weten te delen. Het zijn ideale plaatsen waar ondernemers
kunnen groeien en netwerken. Een dergelijke incubator was
bijvoorbeeld iMinds. Wouter Uten en Tom Martens van Ugen-
Tec hebben alleszins “geen enkel kanaal onbenut om sneller
slimmer te worden als ondernemer” en via deze incubator kun-
nen groeien als ondernemer.
Alhoewel dergelijke centra zeer nuttig zijn voor het onderne-
merschap, lijkt het boek niet zozeer overtuigd te zijn van het
Belgisch landschap als het aankomt op risk taking. Zo halen ver-
schillende ondernemers aan dat de Belgische markt heel vaak
risico-avers is, met als gevolg de zogenaamde brain drain”.
Hiermee verwijzen de ondernemers naar het fenomeen waar-
bij capabele Belgische ondernemers naar andere oorden zoals
het befaamde Sillicon Valley vertrekken. Vaak gebeurt dit om-
wille van nanciële redenen. Daar hebben ze namelijk meer
kans om investeerders aan te trekken die minder risico-avers
zijn. Ter illustratie: Davy Kestens, oprichter van Sparkcentral,
vertrok met het bedrijf naar San Francisco, zonder enige moei-
te. Omdat “het niet meer was dan ikzelf en mijn laptop”. Karel
Bruneel en Ben Schrauwen, oprichters van, zijn ook
zo in 2014 met een enkel ticket op het vliegtuig naar San Fran-
cisco gestapt. In de Amerikaanse start-upwereld leerden zij dat
je gewoon moet durven mailen naar mensen, want hij “kreeg
altijd meteen ja”.
Entrepreneurial lessons
Het aantal levenslessen en ervaringen van ondernemers zijn
talrijk aanwezig in het boek. En het is juist dat soort lessen dat
het boek zo interessant maakt. Ik verwijs jullie graag naar het
boek zelf maar ik kan jullie al zeker enkele puntjes meegeven:
Complementary teams work! Het ondernemen is heel vaak niet
overgelaten aan een one man show. Iedereen heeft zijn sterke-
re en zwakkere kanten. Het is van cruciaal belang dat je, liefst
van in het begin, met de juiste mensen aan tafel zit en samen
het bedrijf sterker eruit laat komen.
Culture above all else! Een cultuur ligt aan de basis van het be-
drijf. Ligt de cultuur niet goed, of er is wrevel, kan dit nefast
zijn op de lange termijn. Verschillende ondernemers verkiezen
cultuur boven ervaring, omdat het team belangrijker is dan de
individuele bekwaamheden. Beter aldus een plan B met een
team A dan omgekeerd.
Sharing is caring! Quasi alle ondernemers in dit boek hebben
het over de nood van in contact te komen met anderen (onder-
nemers). Ideeën uitwisselen, kritiek geven, advies verlenen
het is van kapitaal belang voor de ondernemer. En hoe meer,
hoe beter. Wees open en niet beschaamd om het over je zwak-
ke kanten te hebben.
“Hoek af” van Eric Kenis is een fantastisch boek, vol inspiratie
van authentieke Belgische ondernemers. Een aanrader dus
voor iedereen met belangstelling voor ondernemerschap in
ons land. Maar hoe kunnen we dit boek voorstellen, zonder
in gesprek te gaan met de auteur zelf? In wat volgt stellen we
ons interview met Eric Kenis voor, en zijn ideeën rond onder-
Philippe: In het boek vermeldt u de uitspraak “sharing
is the new normal” van Jurgen Ingels, een van de vele
ondernemers die u heeft opgevolgd. Is het in diezelfde
ideologie dat u dit boek geschreven heeft? Of ligt de
motivatie elders?
Eric: Het idee of liever gezegd stokpaardje van Jurgen Ingels is
een stand-aloneverhaal. Toen ik het boek schreef had ik niet
bewust een rode draad gelegd. Wat ik wel weet is dat we ons
Boekbespreking: “Hoek Af - 21 Buitengewone Ondernemers en Start-Ups” van Eric Kenis
sterker moeten gaan focussen in het Westen op de zaken waar
we goed in zijn, en dit door verschillende partijen samen te
brengen. Dat is de rode draad die Jurgen mee wou geven. Maar
ik snap uw vraag niet echt precies, wat bedoelt u eigenlijk?
Philippe: Wat wenst u te bereiken met dit boek (door
deze verhalen te delen)? En hoe bent u op het idee
gekomen om dit boek te schrijven?
Eric: Sharen in die zin dan ja, natuurlijk (lacht)! Het eerste opzet
was een veelheid van verhalen te brengen rond het Belgisch
ondernemerschap. Het overstijgen van dezelfde twee of drie
succesverhalen die de wereld veroveren in de media. Het is
doorheen de verschillende jaren dat ik het genoegen heb ge-
had om te kunnen samenwerken met verschillende onderne-
mers en op verschillende cases. Hierdoor zag ik dat er eigenlijk
niet “de ondernemer” bestaat, maar eerder een veelvoud aan
types van ondernemers. Het is dan ook dat beeld van het on-
dernemerschap dat ik wens te veranderen.
Philippe: Kunt u zo een stereotype even aanhalen?
Eric: De meeste ondernemers zijn zeker niet altijd podium-
meesters. Er zijn zowel extroverte als introverte ondernemers.
Alfa’s en bèta’s, sales minded ondernemers en ondernemers
die zich niet focussen op sales … Eenieder van de bevolking kan
een ondernemer zijn, zolang er een hoek af is. Hiermee verwijs
ik naar een passie of obsessie waardoor die man of vrouw zijn
of haar eigen weg wenst te bewandelen en keuzes maakt die
normale mensen niet zouden maken. En dat is ondernemer-
schap tout court. Ik zou bijna zeggen een soort van idealisme,
maar centraal is het passie of overtuiging.
In sommige gevallen, zoals die van de sociale
ondernemer, draait het dan niet per se rond
winst, maar eerder rond een sociaal doel. Ook
hier is die passie of overtuiging van toepas-
sing, alleen op een minder voor de hand lig-
gend doel. Wil je zo snel mogelijk rijk worden,
dan moet je niet een nieuw bedrijf opstarten.
Meestal doen de meeste ondernemers dit om-
dat ze uitdagingen of problemen anders aan-
schouwen dan de meesten (ze hebben namelijk een hoek af,
snap je) en die wensen aan te gaan. Met heel veel geduld en
voor een poosje aan een onderbemiddeld loon, gaan zij op een
eigenzinnige manier te werk.
Philippe: U doorbreekt dus het stereotiepe beeld van
de Belgische ondernemer?
Eric: Meer dan het naar voor brengen van een verscheidenheid
aan verhalen was niet de bedoeling in het begin. Ook was het
zeker niet de bedoeling om enkel razende succesverhalen aan
te brengen. Het gaat niet allemaal over roze wolken. Onderne-
men is eerder een rollercoaster van vallen en opstaan, waarbij
sommige ondernemers minder tegenslagen kennen dan ande-
ren. Nu, in alle eerlijkheid heb ik wel wat kritiek gekregen op
het boek, namelijk dat het vrij eenzijdig is als het aankomt op
scalablity en variëteit in het ondernemerschapslandschap. Een
deel voelt zich een beetje onderbelicht. Maar het is nu eenmaal
zo dat IT’ers relatief makkelijker met low-cost snel naar de klan-
ten kunnen gaan, hetgeen de start-upperiode vergemakkelijkt.
Philippe: Passie staat dus centraal bij de ondernemer,
maar is een ondernemer dan born and formed, of dan
toch eerder geboren (born) of gemaakt (made) volgens
Eric: Ik ben niet zo een voorstander van het te sterk te bena-
drukken van de nature component, want opeens zouden van-
daag de dag veel meer ondernemers geboren worden. Het is
namelijk zo dat ik in het ondernemerslandschap veel meer on-
dernemers zie dan vroeger. En ik denk dat dit eigenlijk wel een
generatiefenomeen is. De nieuwe generatie, de digital natives,
heeft dat IT in de genen. Die zijn meer geneigd om hun eigen
onafhankelijk pad te kiezen, en vaak al vanaf dat ze school-
gaand zijn, maar ook als ze gaan werken of eigen bedrijf op-
richten. Ze zullen op eigen houtje te werk gaan, wat typerend
is voor ondernemers.
Philippe: Is dat dan de reden waarom u aandacht
schonk aan de oorsprong van de ondernemers’ start in
het boek?
Eric: Ik heb altijd extra aandacht geschonken
aan die vroege fase van de ondernemers,
omdat dat een beetje het interview (alsook
het boek) anekdotisch verlicht (lacht). Maar
inderdaad, het toont wel aan dat het onder-
nemen al van in het begin zit, die drang naar
onafhankelijkheid en eigenzinnigheid. En in
dit geval zou het een generatiefenomeen zijn,
waardoor ik het “nature” wens te nuanceren.
Wat voor mij tevens van belang was in de in-
terviews was de passie en persoonlijkheden van de onderne-
mers naar voren te schuiven.
Philippe: In het boek vermeldt u verschillende keren
incubatoren. In welke mate zijn die van belang?
Eric: Het zijn aantrekkingspolen voor ondernemers, om ver-
schillende redenen. Enerzijds kunnen ze daar vergelijken en
wedijveren met elkaar, en kunnen ze bewijzen dat ze hun
plaats verdienen. En dat is een zeer goed fenomeen. Het heeft
Ondernemen is eerder een
rollercoaster van vallen en
opstaan, waarbij sommige
ondernemers minder
tegenslagen kennen dan
Accountancy & Bedrijfskunde, 2016-3
te maken, mijns inziens, met besmettelijkheid. Dergelijke cen-
tra steken aan en dienen als het ware als een trigger om te
ondernemen. Anderzijds voorzien dergelijke centra de nodige
coaching, fysieke locaties en eventueel vergoedingen, maar
ook het nodige elan door alle brains samen te zetten, wat het
gevoel “ik sta er alleen voor” van de ondernemer doorbreekt.
Een derde reden waarom het een aantrekkingspool is, is om-
wille van de opportuniteiten die het met zich meebrengt, aan-
gezien alle mogelijke en zelfs toekomstige partners samen op
eenzelfde locatie zijn.
Philippe: Hebben we er (nog) meer nodig?
Eric: Geen idee of er steeds meer nodig zijn. Ik zie wel dat er
nieuwe blijven ontstaan, ook op verschillende vlakken. Er zijn
zelfs nu incubatoren die spin-os verzamelen, zoals in het Ant-
werpse Darwin. Het fenomeen van incubatoren kan zeker nog
uitbreiden en groeien.
Wat mij betreft, vind ik het ook wel interes-
sant, dat gewone ondernemingen die al een
tijdje bezig zijn, wel graag een werkplek ter
beschikking wensen zoals start-ups dat doen.
Op die manier komen ze misschien inspi-
rerende momenten tegen of kan er kennis
doorgegeven worden of andere vormen van
samenwerking uit de bus komen.
Philippe: Hebben we nood aan meer entrepreneurial
minded people?
Eric: Ik ben zeer overtuigd van het belang en de nood hiervan.
De nieuwigheden en voortrekkers komen uit het onderne-
merschap, en hun initiatieven zijn van belang voor de samen-
leving. Meestal zijn ze de avant-garde, en doen ze dingen die
niet noodzakelijk mogelijk zijn in grote ondernemingen, waar
er procedures zijn en waar er mogelijk andere kortetermijnbe-
langen heersen.
Philippe: Wat kunnen we doen om dergelijke
mentaliteit te stimuleren?
Eric: Belgen zijn nog steeds geen hoogvliegers op het vlak van
ondernemerschap. Kijk naar de statistieken van vroeger en
zelfs op de dag van vandaag. We scoren daar heel slecht op,
wat jammer is. Maar wat wel werkt in mijn ervaring, zijn rolmo-
dellen en succesverhalen. En dat is ook wat ik probeer te doen
met dit boek.
Op een ander vlak is de manier waarop het onderwijs omgaat
met het ondernemerschap evenzeer van belang. De dag van
vandaag zijn er maar weinig hogescholen of universiteiten die
zich niet hiermee bezig houden, wat het ondernemerschap ten
goede komt.
De beste manier om het ondernemerschap tot iets te laten
komen, is door jonge mensen eectief een bedrijf te laten
opstarten, zonder te veel schoolregels op te zetten (geen geld
verdienen of een leerkracht als board member te hebben). Laat
dus scholen ondernemingen bouwen op een indirecte manier.
Philippe: Wie zijn uw ondernemende rolmodellen
geweest doorheen de jaren?
Eric: (lacht) Het is een beetje een omgekeerde wereld, want
meestal stel ik die vraag aan jonge mensen. In mijn geval, zijn
dat diezelfde jonge mensen die bedrijven lanceren en bergen
weten te verzetten. Elke ondernemer in dit boek heeft zoveel
energie en passie om hun doel te behalen, in
soms zeer moeilijke omstandigheden, het is
gewoon bewonderenswaardig wat ze doen.
Maar ook onbekende kmo’s, met onderne-
mers aan boord, zoals in Gent Leslie Konte-
nier, zijn mijn rolmodellen. Ze leidt 10 men-
sen in haar bedrijf, heeft het ongelooijk druk,
maar is tegelijk overal op de podia te vinden
om andere ondernemers te helpen. Om nog iemand op te noe-
men, Inge Geeren heeft een technologiebedrijf en steekt toch
zoveel tijd en energie in anderen om realisme aan te brengen.
Die combinatie van 24/7 te werken aan het bedrijf samen met
een podiumaanspreking voor het ondernemerschap ... dat is
gewoonweg fantastisch.
Philippe: Is het diegene die blijft aanhouden, de
doorzetter, die uiteindelijk dan ook altijd slaagt als
Eric: Zeker zo, zonder twijfel dat diegene die niet opgeeft,
slaagt. Er zijn zeker genoeg ondernemingen te vinden die cri-
sismomenten hebben gehad, of minder glorieuze momenten
hebben gekend (of zeer gevaarlijke wateren hebben gekend).
Het gras is nergens zo groen als aan de rand van de vulkaan.
Risico’s zijn eigen aan het ondernemen, en elk pad is een hob-
belig pad. Af en toe kom je die tegen, en het doorzetten zorgt
er ook vaak voor dat je uiteindelijk succes bereikt. En ik kom
terug op passie, als de driving force die hen begeleidt doorheen
dat hobbelige pad.
Het gras is nergens zo
groen als aan de rand van
de vulkaan.
Boekbespreking: “Hoek Af - 21 Buitengewone Ondernemers en Start-Ups” van Eric Kenis
En de dag van vandaag hebben ondernemers eigenlijk minder
te verliezen dan vroeger. Het vereist niet veel kosten om een
bedrijf te lanceren, en welke ervaring je er ook uit haalt (po-
sitief of negatief), je bent steeds een winnaar. Vandaag is het
geen blamage om op je CV te zetten dat je een onderneming
hebt moeten stopzetten.
Philippe: In het boek wordt ook naar de “brain drain
van Belgische ondernemers naar Sillicon Valley
verwezen. Hoe kunnen we dit tegenhouden?
Eric: Ecosystemen helpen. In België sta je echt op de kaart waar
men wilt zijn, zoals het geval is voor de biotechnologische sec-
tor. In hun geval is er weinig reden om te vertrekken, aange-
zien er mankracht, kapitaal, knowhow en markt is. Maar voor
andere sectoren wordt er gekeken waar er markt en klanten
zijn. Een tweede aspect, is dat van “the world is their oyster”.
Zolang op de een of andere manier er een link aan België blijft,
vraag ik me af wat ik erop tegen zou hebben. Een derde reden
is een kwestie van beschikbaarheid van kapitaal. Als de midde-
len voor verdere fasen niet beschikbaar blijken te zijn in België,
dan kiest men voor Amerikaanse partners.
Philippe: Wat is uw advies aan jonge aspirant-
Eric: Niets origineels hoor, maar deze zou ik alvast willen mee-
Praat in een vroege fase met heel veel mensen.
Wees niet bang om jouw idee te delen.
Laat je ook niet ontmoedigen.
Praten is belangrijk, maar even belangrijk als luisteren. Een
idee wordt beter met een kritisch geluid.
Be lean. Hiermee bedoel ik om snel naar buiten komen en
dingen uit te proberen.
Be agile. Ik bedoel hiermee dat je je zo snel mogelijk moet
aanpassen. Marktvoorspellingen zijn moeilijk de dag van
vandaag, concurrentie inschatten is nog moeilijker.
Philippe: Kunt u ook even nog wat kwijt rond uw
project aan de Antwerp Management School?
Eric: Ik zet trajecten uit rond entrepreneurial learning, voor on-
dernemers die al bezig zijn. Er zijn 3 issues die vaak terugkeren,
namelijk het omgaan met cijfers, een organisatie uitbouwen
(een product en/of een bedrijf bouwen is iets dat zeer sterk
evolueert; het vereist andere skills bij het uitbouwen dan wan-
neer je het bedrijf lanceert) en personal development and readi-
ness. Met dit laatste bedoel ik dat niet iedereen goed is in alles,
en je je dus beter focust op je sterke kanten. Maar het bedrijf
moet wel sterker zijn dan jezelf, en dat is mogelijk door de juis-
te partners te hebben.
Ik wil Eric graag hartelijk bedanken voor zijn ontvankelijkheid
en tijd en de interessante discussie rond zijn boek en het Bel-
gisch ondernemerschap in het algemeen. Ik wens hem verder
nog veel succes bij zijn lopende en komende projecten. Ik sta
alvast te popelen om het volgende boek te lezen. Voor verdere
informatie of bestellingen kunt u zich wenden tot zijn website:
Philippe Eiselein is doctoraatsstudent aan de Vrije Universi-
teit Brussel (VUB). Zijn onderzoek richt zich op de business-
modellen van sociaal ondernemerschap. Zijn interesses be-
vinden zich daarnaast rond MVO en Strategisch Management.
ik neem abonnement(en) op
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