Lisa-Maria Sommer is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of the 2019 European Social Innovation Competition Impact Prize Winner, MTOP. Speaking at this year’s Awards Ceremony, she explained how the 2018 Competition has helped her company to double the output of its training programmes for refugees.

A bit more than 3 and a half years ago, Nina and Julian – my two co-founders – and I developed the idea forMTOP – MORE THAN ONE PERSPECTIVE. We wanted to be a different – a more positive answer to the migration movement focusing on the potential everyone has to create impact for the individual. We are aiming to connect refugees and companies on the labor market and demonstrate the potential that lies within integration and diversity. Little did we know back then what journey we were about to start and what impact we would achieve. I’m so grateful to ride this journey of running a Social 

Business and shaping the world we live in.

3 years ago we launched our very first training program for refugees that prepares them to enter the Austrian labour market. Back then we started with 10 refugees. We have now trained more than 200. We also act as a placement agency and work with employers to provide opportunities for our alumni. Today we are so proud that 70% of our alumni have started an internship or job in Austria. What this means for them becomes clear when we catch up with them after they start their new role. It’s the biggest reward for us to see how they grow as person, start a new life and feel at home in Austria. 

A lot has happened since we took part in the Competition last year. We managed to double the number of refugees we work with per year from 60 to 120. We have digitized the programme and now offer an online version. We also introduced a new service that tackles our theory of change from a different angle. I remember being at the finals of last year’s European Social Innovation Competition and speaking to one of the experts who introduced me to the concept of deep and wide impact. Back then we started to think how we could create impact on the ecosystem-level and I’m proud that only one year later we have managed to find a way to do so. We launched a service called ‘MTOP experience’, where managers can experience what social and diverse leadership truly means and learn how to make use of diversity to lead diverse teams successfully. With MTOP experience, we are paving the way for more diverse and colourful recruitment. 

The European Social Innovation Competition has had a huge impact on our development in the last year. Working on our development plan helped us most as it forced us to find answers to burning questions and build the basis for our scaling process. We were able to identify our core competencies, our potential to scale and the inspiring community of the other Competition participants motivated us to step up our efforts. Of course, I would also like to thank Niki Hutter – our coach and mentor throughout the challenge.

MTOP has been up and running for 3 years now. Our next steps are to scale our impact solutions in the German speaking world –  the 2019 Impact Prize is a kickstarter to do this.

I would like to congratulate all of the 2019 Semi-Finalists and Finalists. You are actively shaping the world for the better. I really love that the impact community is growing and I feel that we are in a momentum of change. With all the challenges that we face in the 21st century, we have to become aware of how we impact the world with our actions, on a social, ecological and political level. We need to think and do business in different, new and innovative ways. I truly believe that this community can provide answers! This community offers an opportunity to think differently, test ideas, gather critical feedback, try things out, get inspired,and  learn new things. It demonstrates that change is possible and creates better answers.

Thank you all for being part of this community and movement, and let us together shape a better tomorrow.