Lighthouses for a social, sustainable and future-oriented Berlin.

Every day, social enterprises in Berlin make an important contribution to making our city more inclusive, more equitable and more sustainable. With the Berlin Social Enterprises 2022 award, the Berlin Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises honors outstanding social enterprises and makes their impact visible to all.

In September 2022 we will award three social enterprises in each of the three award categories: People, Planet and Transformation, that have already made a positive impact in Berlin and beyond.

The first-place winners will each receive prize money of €10,000, while the runners-up will each receive prize money of €3,000. In addition, all nine companies will receive a one-year Connect membership at Impact Hub Berlin.

Awards will be given to companies that define themselves as belonging to any of the following:

  • „Impact Economy“
  • „Social enterprises / social entrepreneurship“
  • „Collective enterprises“
  • „Social and solidarity economy“

It is important that the organization pursues public welfare-oriented purposes with its economic activities and is thus a driver of the social and ecological transformation of the economy.

The award categories

Category 1: People
Social enterprise for a life together

We want to live in a city where everyone feels welcome and safe. The People category is open to social enterprises that advocate for social justice, diversity, equity and inclusion.

This category includes topics such as affordable housing, combating poverty, barrier-free mobility, supporting culture and family, health, strengthening democracy and participation, education for all, anti-racism, anti-discrimination and civil courage, and intergenerational integration.

Category 2: Planet
Social enterprise for a good life on earth

The fight against the climate crisis is one of the biggest challenges of our time – also here in Berlin. We are looking for social enterprises that contribute to making Berlin an ecologically sustainable city by actively and effectively contributing to climate protection and climate justice.

In the Planet category, you can nominate social enterprises that advance topics such as green technologies, sustainable food supply, climate-neutral and green cities, CO2 reduction and mobility.

Category 3: Transformation
Social enterprise for an economy of tomorrow

An economy that does not take people and the earth into account is not sustainable. Instead of single-use products and waste generation, we need an economy that functions in cycles like nature itself. This includes recycling and repair, but also a change in production and economic understanding.

In the Transformation category, social enterprises can be nominated that successfully implement sustainable production and consumption patterns, transparent and local supply chains, sustainable and reusable packaging, repair workshops, or any other activity that has an economy „of tomorrow“ in its DNA.

Nominations are already closed!

Nominations for the competition are now closed.
Information about the finalists will be published on this website in early July 2022.

Who are we searching for?

We are looking for social enterprises that tackle challenges in at least one of the three award categories and can already demonstrate their positive impact. They must be based or have an office in Berlin.

You can nominate as many social enterprises as you like – of course, you are also allowed to nominate yourself!

To qualify, social enterprises must meet the following entry criteria:

Social objectives:

  • Your organisation addresses a social or environmental problem that is part of at least one UN Sustainable Development Goal and thus serves a concrete need. You should explain the causes and effects of the problem as well as referencing relevant stakeholders.

Impact and innovation

  • Your organisation positively differentiates itself from other companies through its innovative actions (business model, processes, product, service, technology, supply chain, governance or impact model).
  • Your business creates a positive social impact. You can describe the impact and present qualitative or quantitative proof. Ideally, you have a contact person within the company responsible for impact tracking. You can submit a detailed impact measurement with your application, but it is not a must.

Involvement of your target group

  • Your company can describe its target group(s) and understand their perspective(s) on the social and/or environmental problem. If possible, your organisation is in direct exchange with the target group or informs them about your work.

Financial independence

  • You are an economic social enterprise that is firmly committed to acting according to social and ecological principles. Your company (partly) uses market production factors such as capital, assets or wage labour. At least 50% of your employees receive a wage and volunteer labour accounts for less than 50% of your labour force.
  • Your company is able to cover a large part of its expenses itself through income. Market revenue accounts for at least 50% (including revenue from public sector or charitable clients), meaning that up to 50% of your income may be donations or philanthropic gratuitous funds.

Use of Funds

  • Your company primarily uses its surplus to achieve your stated mission. This means that you reinvest your surplus in your own organisation, donate it to organisations with a similar mission, or distribute it to employees. If you are not a non-profit organisation, you should have this policy written into your bylaws or similar.

What happens after the nomination? / I was nominated, and now?

Each nominated social enterprise will receive an online registration form from us. In the first part of the form, we want to determine whether you meet the entry criteria. The second part serves as a basis for the jury to evaluate your application against our evaluation criteria:

  • Problem-Solution Fit: How well do you know the problem and the affected target group (beneficiaries) as well as the people or companies that buy or use your product or service (users)? Do you solve the problem in a sustainable way?
  • Impact: How do you make an impact on your target group and how sustainable is your approach?
  • Business model: Do you have a financially, operationally and socially sustainable business model?
  • Scalability: How does your business contribute to sustainable living and social business in the long term?
  • Team: Do you have a diverse and competent team that promotes inclusive structures? What is your motivation?

The deadline for submitting the registration form is 15th May, 2022 You should allow approximately 30-40 minutes for registration.


Who is on the jury?

Our jury consists of representatives of organizations from politics, business, and civil society:

Stephan Schwarz, Senator, Senatsverwaltung für Wirtschaft, Energie und Betriebe

Michael Biel,
Secretary of State, Senatsverwaltung für Wirtschaft, Energie und Betriebe

Clara Bräuer,
Partner/Venture Program Manager
Ashoka Deutschland

Dr. Hedda Ofoole Knoll, Managing Director, tbd*
Belonging and Anti-Discrimination

Angeliki Krisilion, Member of the Management Board, responsible for the
back office division of Investitionsbank Berlin

Simon Margraf,
Head of Economics & Politics Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Berlin

Margitta Haertel,
Foundation Pfefferwerk

What is there to win?

The award ceremony will take place on 21.09.2022 and ties in with the annual network meeting of the „Social Economy Berlin“. You will therefore have the chance to present yourselves in front of a broad audience.

The first place winners of each award category will receive prize money of 10,000€, the second place winners of each award category will receive prize money of 3,000€.

All nine companies (first, second and third place winners) will additionally receive a one-year Connect membership at Impact Hub Berlin worth 420€. As a Connect member, you will have access to Impact Hub’s global network of social innovation actors, inclusive and sustainable office spaces, and support programs for social entrepreneurs.

You will also be profiled on the Social Economy Berlin website and included in our public campaign.


What is the definition of a „Social Enterprise“?

  • If all of the following dimensions are met, the organisation qualifies for the competition (entry criteria):
    • Social purpose: There are clear social and environmental goals and you can demonstrate your positive impact (e.g., through impact models or citations from your target audience)
    • Stakeholder Relationships: The target group(s) will be involved in the work over the long term
    • Use of funds: Funds are used to achieve goals rather than for profit distributions
    • Organisational structure: The organisation promotes participation and power sharing through internal processes
    • Financial independence: Economic sustainability arises to a significant extent from self-generated revenues through sales of the organisation’s products or services
    • Impact scope: The objective has particular relevance for solving societal challenges.

What evidence do I need to submit?

  • Documents that anchor the ecological or social goals of the company (e.g. articles of association, bylaws or similar).
  • Documents that clarify the company’s economic activity (e.g. annual report, business registration, extract from the commercial register or similar).
  • Only after pre-selection for the TOP 15: Evidence of the positive impact that has already been achieved (quantitative or qualitative, such as quotes from the target group; if available, impact reports, impact measurements or certificates).

I’m not sure which award category the social enterprise I want to nominate fits into.

  • Often social enterprises fit into more than one category.
  • You should make the nomination based on your gut feeling. Don’t worry, when the nominated social enterprise registers, it can still adjust the award category.
  • In the registration, the social enterprise can choose only one of the categories. Therefore, use the category that most corresponds to the main focus of your social enterprise.

I am an association, can I nominate?

  • Yes, if you meet the entry criteria (see above).

How do you ensure a fair evaluation process?

  • The first step is to check which registered companies meet the entry criteria, which we have made transparent for everyone on our website. In the second step, an experienced and briefed jury will evaluate the applications on the basis of the above-mentioned evaluation criteria using a four-eyes principle. The nine winning teams will then be selected in a moderated jury session and invited to the presentation on 21.09.22. Of course, it is not always possible to compare companies that address different problems. Therefore, we ask the top 15 to submit evidence of impact and prioritize the organizations based on this.

Why am I not allowed to participate if I am still in the early startup phase?

  • We want to recognize and honor social enterprises that are already making a demonstrable impact as part of the awards process. If you are still in the conception or early startup phase, feel free to check out the Business Plan Competition!

Why can’t I nominate a company anymore?

  • Unfortunately, the nomination phase has already ended on 1.5.2022.

How long will it take to complete the registration?

  • The completion of the registration will take approximately 30 min.

When will the award ceremony take place?

  • The award ceremony is on 21.09.2022 and will take place as part of the Social Economy Berlin conference.


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