Healthcare clowns from the Portuguese charity Operação Nariz Vermelho

By Alejandro Peña, posted on April 28th 2016.

Allow me to share with you a most original and surprising consulting experience that Rosa Matos, Cláudia Pedra, Cristiano Viegas and this humble Argentinean - true, perfect example of an oxymoron - have recently carried out at the Healthcare Clowning International Meeting 2016 that took place last March in Lisbon.  

Stone Soup Consulting’s projects have proved to be anything but standard or orthodox tasks for me. I am getting used to shifting from intense online benchmarking exercises to track how social stock exchanges finance their activities; to testing my networking skills in an international event where NGO staff, academics and global donors play their annual game of beggars and peacocks or even squeezing my brain in a futile effort to understand why twenty micro-NGOs simply cannot help but see a free opportunity to build their managerial capacities as a curse. In my moments of brighter clarity I go beyond the professional learnings garnered from these experiences and engage in the inherent adventure of connecting with other human beings. I strongly believe that working towards social transformation offers us the privilege of being naturally closer to other people’s dreams, fears and loving drive. In this scenario, laughter sometimes appears as the only way out from astonishment, anguish and suffering. Clowns, and particularly healthcare/hospital clowns, really know what I mean.

With our “note taker” hats on we went from one conference room to another, we listened, wrote and conversed with speakers and participants throughout three long days. The clown’s passion, as contagious as it is, permeated the elegant Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian premises and left us with no choice (I know I can speak for my colleagues here) but have a glance into the clown’s soul.

O período de candidaturas aos Prémio Agir da REN terminou.

As candidaturas entregues até às 23h59 de dia 30 de abril serão agora analisadas. Todos as candidaturas recebidas receberão um email de resposta. 

Agradecemos o vosso interesse pelo Prémio Agir da REN.


When: March 30th, from 2pm to 3pm British Summer Time, GMT+1 (UK time).

Register here

Would you like to have a better understanding of how organisations deliver social impact? Do you want to know what is it that you need to manage and how to face the challenges and opportunities to deliver impact? Anton Simanowitz, author of the book “The Business of Doing Good” and director of Social Performance Solutions, will lead a webinar that will look into the heart of the impact system and give a twist to its management. Aimed at anybody working in an organisation  with a social purpose, from board members to managers, frontline staff or impact people in general, the goal of this webinar is to have a better understanding of the social impact process.  

Join us for this new webinar organised by the Portugal Impact Group and Stone Soup Consulting, a free and open training that will bridge the gap between good intentions and practice.

“Many times I’ve asked myself why is it that organisations so committed to deliver good in the world, often fail to take opportunities to do better, and sometimes actually hurt the people that they are trying to reach. This webinar is about the details of how to build good organisations and not just the products. It will focus on how not to make assumptions about our clients and understand what they need. On how to build the right product and services to make small tweaks that really improve things”, Anton Simanowitz. 

Anton Simanowitz has been influential since the late 1990s as a practitioner and thought leader in the field of microfinance and social enterprise. He works globally with practitioners, investors, technical assistance providers and policy makersto improve the effectiveness of microfinance and social enterprises in delivering positive social outcomes.

Anton was founder and Director of the Imp-Act Consortium, a group of 12 leading microfinance organisations instrumental in the development of  the Universal Standards in Social Performance management – industry standards in microfinance that are now widely used in due diligence, social audit, social rating, technical assistance and reporting.Most recently he led the design and roll-out to ten countries of a social performance diagnostic and capacity building approach for Dutch social investor Oikocredit.

Register here


You can download it here.

The Portugal Impact Group, of which Stone Soup Consulting is a member, joined again the effort of Inspiring Impact in the United Kingdom, and made The "Funders’ Principles and Drivers of Good Impact Practice" available to the Portuguese speaking world, after the recent launch of "The Code of Good Impact Practice".

This document has been informed by the Funders for Impact Working Group and facilitated by the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) on behalf of Inspiring Impact.

It is intended to help funders think about how they can improve their own impact practice and support the impact practices of their grantees and investees. The role of funders in shaping behaviour around impact practice is considered critical as their approach to impact, and their financial and non-financial support, strongly influences practice.

This framework offers practical and useful guidance for funders, irrespective of the scale or scope of operations, as set out in “The Code of Good Impact Practice”. This document is also in line with “Linhas de Orientação para Investidores e Financiadores Socialmente Responsáveis” prepared by GRAIS.

Interview to Uli Grabenwarter, Strategic Adviser of Stone Soup Consulting and Deputy Director - Equity Investments at the European Investment Fund.

By Pilar Balet. Posted on February 23rd 2016

1. How do you see the social enterprises sector evolving not just in Europe, but the world?

The social enterprises sector has come a long way over the last decade. It is now at a very decisive injunction point that will decide how it will move forward. On one hand, for the first time social enterprises are becoming aware of being targets of investment communities as investors move beyond the philanthropic space and use impact investing to scale the scope of their activities for doing good for society.

On the other hand, we see that the societal issues that social enterprises typically deal with have evolved a lot in these ten years. Social enterprises today need to change gears, not only do something that is basically good, but reflect on how they can make the social value that they create tangible and scalable. Those are the two biggest challenges that these enterprises are facing today, and that is what is at the base of the debate linked not only to measuring, evidencing and monitoring impact, but also to how impact is priced in the market.


2. What would you say are the main opportunities and challenges in the sector at the moment?

The opportunity is very clear and definite. Our socioeconomic system operates with assumptions that will not uphold in the future. One big element is linked to the State’s finances and how the public sector is going to fulfil its role as a welfare State.  Businesses across all sectors are facing more and more the issue of assessing sustainability as one of the factors of competitiveness. Competitiveness today is not only about the smartness of the product, but how you deal with resources that are vital for your business’ processes. It is also looking at how you deal with externalities and stakeholders. All those issues are today at the very core of successful businesses and impact investing.

“Traditional companies can learn a great deal from social enterprises”

Traditional companies can learn a great deal from social enterprises. Actually, social enterprises have a very odd business proposition, even strange from an investment point of view. They usually work towards solving a societal issue, which means that they seek to make disappear the reason why they exist. Thus, a succesful social enterprise will eliminate its business model reason of being. This might sound weird to investors at the beginning, but it is actually nothing else than what any business in today’s enterprise market environment needs to do. We are in a time where the most important feature for competitiveness is innovation. Social enterprises are bound to work at the edge of this because when they solve a societal issue they need to persist, continue and find the next issue and the solution that goes with it. Innovation is at the base of social enterprises and that is the big opportunity that we have. Not just for social enterprises, but also for society.