It seems like „Social Business“ has become a sort of Buzzword. It is „cool“ and „trendy“ to start a social start up. But what does it really mean? What is a Social Business and how do I create a business model around a social or ecological idea? Andrea Bury has started ABURY as a social business already 10 years ago and starts by explaining general ideas behind social business and the possible legal forms that are available. Further she is talking about the successes as well as the failures of her own social business and the learnings that she took from it. The goal is to motivate and support.

„It is not enough to just solve a social or ecological problem, it should also make sense business wise if you want to create a social business.“

herCAREER: If you have an idea to solve a social or ecological problem – how do you start building a business case around it?

Andrea Bury: Buildling a business case for a social or ecological problem is not really different from building any business case. I would recommend starting with something like the business model canvas. This helps you defining the problem, your vision and mission, your strategic objectives, how you want to earn money, distribution, etc.

Then you should also look into the competition (is someone else already tackling the same problem, where, how, etc.) as well as the challenges and opportunities of your potential business. It is not enough to just solve a social or ecological problem, it should also make sense business wise if you want to create a social business. If there is no way to create a  business case around your social or ecological problem, it might be an idea to create a foundation / non-profit to tackle the problem.

herCAREER: What are two challenges for social founders? How can they prepare for those challenges?

Andrea Bury: Creating a business case around a social problem still often seems to be contradictory. More and more people and investors understand that actually social business is a great way to tackle global challenges. This is actually also a great opportunity.

Apart from the challenges every start upper has, there are additional challenges for social entrepreneurs. One is that it is very important to make the social impact measurable. That often is quite a challenge, but numbers make your success more understandable and visible for your customers and investors.

Transparency is one of the biggest topics in supply chains today and especially if you are in the social or ecological sector it is a must.

herCAREER: How do you raise money for a social startup? Are there any tips you can share?

Andrea Bury: First prepare a business plan that clearly shows your social and economic vision. Even if it is patient money you are pitching for, the potential investor wants to see that you have a vision and a plan how to get there. They want their money in good hands.

Practice and challenge your pitch with friends and mentors before you do the real pitch.

Research investors who are funding startups in your industry and stage of company. See if you have a contact who knows someone there and can introduce your directly (networking is key).
Be prepared that many people love your idea but don’t invest. Finding the right investor especially in the social field, is a double challenge: you need to find someone who shares your passion for a certain social problem and believes in your business plan. So don’t give up, but learn from each pitch! Constructive feedback is precious so always ask for it.

Finally, investors always look at the team. Try to find people with complementary skill sets – because you are always stronger together.

herCAREER: At herCAREER, the focus is on professional exchanges, which is based on the personal experiences and the knowledge of the sparring partners. As an organizer, it is also in our best interest to support women beyond the exhibition and make our networks accessible. We would therefore like to ask you if you would also act as a sparring partner in addition to the expo participation. If so, we would ask you to name the topics for which you would act as a sparring partner in bullet points.

  • Social business
  • Purpose marketing

herCAREER: Use one of the ways to contact the interviewee and refer to the herCAREER community interview.

About this person

Andrea Bury studied economics and cultural management. She is storyteller, marketing expert and social entrepreneur. In 1999 she was appointed as implementation manager of the „Laureus World Sports Awards“ („Oscar of sports) first in London, then in Monaco where the first „Laureus World Sports Awards“ was staged.

After the successful implementation she moved to Munich and founded the pr and event agency „Calliope – inspiring brand communication“ in 2001. She has since then developed marketing strategies e.g. for Deutsche Bank AG, Campari, O2 Germany, DEDON, Volkswagen and others.

In 2007 she and her then husband moved partly to Marrakech and opened a city palace they had previously restored with artisans, the AnaYela, a „Place of Inspiration“, that she is still running today. The hotel has won four World Hotel Awards. Living in Marrakesh inspired her to start ABURY – a social fashion business that brings together international designers and traditional crafts people. The designers live and work with artisans for two months and create a collection. „We believe that everybody has amazing skills, they just need an environment where they can blossom.“ Parts of the profits are given back through the ABURY Foundation and are invested in education projects in the communities. In 2011 she started TEDx Marrakesh who is held every year since then in Marrakesh.
In 2013 she was awarded with the Victress Award for Social Entrepreneurship and since 2015 she is part of the BMW Foundation Global Leaders network.

Refer to the interview of the herCAREER community and use an opportunity for contact that the interviewee has indicated. The offer for a sparring refers to a casual exchange. herCAREER thus acts as a bridge builder. Please feel free to accept the invitation for the exchange. You do not have to give anything back directly to your sparring partner, but you are welcome to contribute your expertise elsewhere in the network.