Spotlight: Mareike Mueller

Mareike long

What drives you?

Find good solution for existing problems, being a supporter.

Biggest SocEnt trend you have seen in the last 5 years?

At the beginning it was a niche topic and no-one knew whether it was a hype or more. But now public administrations, large charities and companies are starting to understand that there is such a thing as ‘social entrepreneurship’. Our increasing numbers of applicants tell me that civil society is increasingly interested in the topic.

I spent some time in Spain and I have come to believe that for young Germans starting your own business is not really that popular; we don’t like taking risks. You have to be absolutely convinced of your idea to make the conscious decision to give up your job and start your business. In Spain, on the other side, youth unemployment is very high so starting a business is a great opportunity. With much less to give up, they develop start-up models out of necessity.

Currently reading

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon and the current issue of brand eins


After graduating from high school, Mareike spent eight months in Bolivia working for an NGO providing vocational training to single mothers and disabled people. During her undergraduate degree in European Studies, she worked in an educational project in South Africa. Her studies were followed by a stint at the German Technical Cooperation in Eschborn, Germany. “I thought I wanted to go into development but I found it too bureaucratic and far from creating any sustainable impact. I don’t agree with the top-down approach of telling developing countries how to do things – run their businesses, build their infrastructure, etc.”

As an alternative to international development, Mareike became interested in social entrepreneurship. She took a masters in development economy and specialized in social change and innovation. After graduation, she went to Berlin and joined betterplace lab in digital solutions to social issues. She conducted research in Colombia and Bolivia to interview stakeholders in the ecosystem of social innovation (see the results of her research here) and published results in the Trendreport and Zeit Online.

In terms of partnerships and collaboration among support organizations for social entrepreneurs, Mareike says: ”We collaborate with other actors to run programs such as Think Big Pro together with Telefonica Foundation, and we work closely with other support organizations such as the Impact Hubs in Munich, Vienna or Zurich. Competitive behavior in our sector is misplaced, but we have to take out time to look around and see what happens in other places in order to build partnerships, cooperate and create a large ecosystem for doing good.”



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