On June 26th 2013 the Zukun­fts­fo­rum Wind­haag (future forum Wind­haag) and ACADEMIA SUPERIOR dis­cussed the top­ic „Social Busi­ness in rur­al areas — dream or night­mare?“ with entre­pre­neurs, heads and mem­bers of var­i­ous asso­ci­a­tions and Upper Aus­tri­an institutions.

Social Busi­ness as a part of region­al entre­pre­neur­ship and rur­al busi­ness cycles
At the loca­tion „Kögler­hof” in Gra­mas­tet­ten near Linz, Upper Aus­tria, the par­tic­i­pants tried to view the top­ic „Social Busi­ness” from var­i­ous dif­fer­ent angles. What does Social Busi­ness mean? Which obsta­cles does it face and how can it be sup­port­ed? Next to the steps an indi­vid­ual can take to encour­age and pro­mote Social Busi­ness in rur­al areas we also draft­ed rec­om­men­da­tions for Upper Aus­tri­an pol­i­tics and decision-makers.

The con­cept of Social Busi­ness was devel­oped by nobel peace prize win­ner Muham­mad Yunus and includes the fol­low­ing 7 principles:

  • Busi­ness objec­tive will be to over­come pover­ty, or one or more prob­lems (such as edu­ca­tion, health, tech­nol­o­gy access, and envi­ron­ment) which threat­en peo­ple and soci­ety; not prof­it maximization
  • Finan­cial and eco­nom­ic sustainability
  • Investors get back their invest­ment amount only. No div­i­dend is giv­en beyond invest­ment money
  • When invest­ment amount is paid back, com­pa­ny prof­it stays with the com­pa­ny for expan­sion and improvement
  • Envi­ron­men­tal­ly conscious
  • Work­force gets mar­ket wage with bet­ter work­ing conditions
  • …do it with joy


Many young, well-edu­cat­ed peo­ple want to move back to the rur­al areas they grew up in and be entre­pre­neurs serv­ing the pub­lic good

Social Busi­ness, mean­ing busi­ness serv­ing the envi­ron­ment and the com­mu­ni­ty, is a major step towards sus­tain­abil­i­ty, decen­tral­iza­tion, region­al devel­op­ment, a change of val­ues, sol­i­dar­i­ty and last but not least, per­son­al sat­is­fac­tion. Social Busi­ness needs struc­tur­al, finan­cial and legal polit­i­cal sup­port, as well as back­ing by soci­ety. Struc­tur­al changes of the edu­ca­tion sys­tem or finan­cial aid for young entre­pre­neurs in rur­al areas will not be suf­fi­cient, though. Social entre­pre­neurs also need the space in order to devel­op their ideas for Social Busi­ness­es. Many young, well-edu­cat­ed peo­ple want to move back to the rur­al areas they grew up in and be entre­pre­neurs serv­ing the pub­lic good. These social entre­pre­neurs her­ald the estab­lish­ment of future-ori­ent­ed, resilient regions, which is why they deserve accep­tance and respect. Their courage should be acknowl­edged, encour­aged and strength­ened. The com­munes in par­tic­u­lar should be con­cerned by the issue in light of their own future per­spec­tives. That is how har­mon­ic busi­ness cycles, espe­cial­ly in rur­al areas, can be formed, cen­tral­iza­tion can be pre­vent­ed and a healthy region­al devel­op­ment can be ensured.