KIMMOKimmo Lipponen, CEO of Finnish Association for Social Enterprises, visited Vilnius university‘s Faculty of Communication (Lithuania) and read lectures for International Communication students about business and social responsibility.

Kimmo Lipponen has been a director of Corporate Social Responsibility at „Nokia“, board member of Boston College and Finnish Olympic Committee, UEFA Committee member and CEO at Football Association of Finland. He has a lot of experience working in the corporate social responsibility field, social enterprise, sports management and non-profit strategy and management.

We talked with Kimmo Lipponen about social enterprises and social awarenes in business.

- You are a CEO of Finnish Association for Social Enterprises. What‘s the goal of this association and what had it already achieved?

- We aim to be the leader of responsible, ethical and impactful business in Finland. After the first five years we are well on the way towards that ambitious vision; memberships are growing steadily, we are well-known among the stakeholders and have excellent reputation for orchestrating high-quality initiatives eg. on social business and impact management.

- When we talk about social responsibility in business, sometimes it can look that corporates are only implementing social awareness just for the sake of get more customers. What are the true goals of social enterprises?

 - It is not a trick, it is essential part of running everyday business for increasing number of companies. Social enterprises have put societal goals to the top of their agenda.

- How social enterprises benefit business and society? What kind of problems do social enterprises try to solve in Finland?

- In various ways depending on the business areas they are involved in. Some provide low-cost housing for students, people with disabilities (mental or physical), some focus on well-being of youth or elderly, some for high quality education. For most of the social and environmental issues, there is a social enterprise trying to solve it through their business.

- How we understand social responsibility and social enterprises differs from country to country. What is the situation in Finland?

- Social enterprises are not charitable organisations. They can be owned by not-fo-profits or foundations, but the business activities themselves have to profitable. Otherwise the business won‘t last too long. The whole idea of social enterprise is to run their business activities in socially, environmentally and economically sustainable way.

- You had a lot experience working in sport institutions. How much attention to social responsibility pay sport clubs and various sport federations in Finland?

- The sporting community in Finland is putting a lot of effort to socially responsible practices. They are by far the most powerful group to organise sporting activities to children and youth and hence play a big role in promoting well-being and fighting social exclusion. Even though fair play, community spirit and respect are in the DNA of sports, the practises for even more equal sports and using sports to fight for example racism have been increasing lately.

- Football is by far the most popular sport in Europe. Each football club cares about its community. How much effort do big football clubs invest to solve social problems globally and locally?

- A lot. On grassroots level football itself is an important school of life and great exercise with obvious health benefits for both boys and girls. In addition the players, clubs, national associations, European umbrella organisation UEFA etc. promote equality and anti-racism in various ways. The huge media interest of football is providing a great platform to promote societal issues.

- Few days back while discussing climate changes, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told what melting ice can make a way for new Arctic routes. It looks like while some people are trying so stop climate change, others still look for some options how to exploit it. What kind of global measures should be taken in order for humanity to become socially aware of its own actions?

- Action is needed on all levels; from individual school boys and girls to global mega-initiatives like UN‘s Sustainable Development Goals. Only then we can make a change.

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