Towards improving the social impact investment market in the Danube region

20. Apr 2020

The Interreg-project Finance4SocialChange is co-financed by European funds (ERDF, IPA, ENI).

Vienna  – The ongoing EU-funded Interreg project “Finance for Social Change” (F4SC) reveals new insights into the social impact investment market of the Danube region. Project member Helmut Gassler (Centre for Social Innovation) summarises: “All in all, the Danube Region is still clearly lagging behind in terms of the development of the market for social impact investments. This applies both to potential investors and to socially oriented entrepreneurs, who themselves have still a very limited investment readiness.”

The project partners screened the respective investment landscape of the Danube countries for specific funding instruments differentiating between different types of instruments, i.e. non-repayable (e.g. grants), repayable (e.g. credits, bonds) and mixed or ‘hybrid’. This screening resulted in a number of 17 different social financing instruments which were studied in more detail. These instruments represent a rather diverse set of approaches ranging from public grants to private loans. Some of them have a clear focus on social impact and prioritise their achievement over monetary returns, others see the social impact as an added value but primarily count on financial incentives. These cases show that there is mixture of instruments available for social impact financing, targeting the beneficiaries in multiple ways. However, instruments specifically targeting social enterprises with a clear focus on creating social impact are still rather concentrated in the realm of grant financing of public entities or private benevolence. There is still a noticeable gap in instruments combining social and financial return on a balanced level.

To address these problems the project consortium developed regional action plans for each participating country which select several focal tasks like specific funding instruments but also ‘soft instruments’ like training activities for social entrepreneurs. Regarding these ‘soft instruments’ the project partners are currently developing online training tools (e.g. webinars, videos) for self-assessing, investment readiness and improving social business skills. By focusing on distance learning these tools are usable even in times of social distancing due to the current pandemics.

About the project

The EU-funded (ERDF, IPA, ENI) INTERREG Project F4SC (Finance for Social Change) project’s mission is to improve the market for social impact investment in the region by addressing all relevant actors and stakeholders in a holistic way. Finance4SocialChange brings together a partnership of 14 Project Partners and 6 Associated Strategic Partners from 12 countries to deliver improved policy learning, and to develop practical solutions on impact investing in the Danube Region. The Finance4SocialChange partnership promotes mutual learning between social enterprises, accelerators, impact investors and relevant national and regional policymakers. With a variety of different approaches and activities Finance4SocialChange aims at improving the eco-system for social investment in the Danube region.

International press contact

Helmut Gassler, Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI), Vienna:


Project Website:

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Tags: Danube Region, impact financing, social change, social innovation

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