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Google to support European social economy with €20 million funding

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Group of young entrepreneurs in a meeting
More than €10 million in Google.org funding has been awarded to social enterprises in the past | Photo: Yan Krukov

Web giant Google has announced a donation of €20 million through its Google.org Social Innovation Fund. The aim is to support social entrepreneurs across Europe who are stuck in vulnerable communities.

According to a study released earlier this week by ChangemakerXchange and The Possibilists and co-funded by Google.org, only 1 in 5 young social entrepreneurs can live off their venture and over 60% have experienced burnout – and entrepreneurs from underserved communities experience these challenges more acutely. In addition, research from Euclid Network released in May shows that social enterprises face significant barriers to growing their business and scaling their impact. In particular, they lack access to capital and support from companies and governments.

Google’s contribution arrives in a perfect timing as, this week, the European Commission has announced a policy agenda to support social enterprises in its EU Action Plan on the Social Economy, and called on governments, funders and companies to do more to support the social economy.

This is not the first time that Google pledged support to entrepreneurs across Europe. Over the past ten years, more than €10 million in Google.org funding has been awarded to social enterprises to support charitable projects.

Paris-based social enterprise Chance (formerly YGeneration) knows first-hand how critical such support can be — now more than ever. In 2015 Google.org awarded them $200,000 to further their mission of using technology to help people from underserved communities access career guidance, digital coaching and the job market.

Seven years later — with the help of mentoring from Google volunteers and an additional $2 million in Google.org funding — they have helped 10,000 job seekers find roles and improve their careers, according to a recent joint blog post published by Rowan Barnett, Head of Google.org EMEA, and Adaire Fox Martin, VP Cloud EMEA at Google.

Google’s support also inspired additional funders to invest over €5 million, and will soon announce that they have attracted additional funding to reach even more people in French and English speaking countries across Europe.

The first grant will be a €1 million to Fund 05 in Slovenia to help catalyse the country’s nascent social entrepreneurship sector. In addition, Google will be giving a €7 million grant to INCO, a global organization supporting innovative companies that are the future leaders of the economy in 50 countries. The project will provide access to capital and support for entrepreneurs from underserved communities in the form of cash grants between €25,000 – €100,000 each to scale up their enterprises. INCO will also help individuals who are just starting out turn their idea into a business, with funding of €4.000 – €10.000 alongside mentoring and incubation services.

Marcio Delgado is a Journalist, Producer and Influencer Marketing Manager working with brands and publications in Europe, America and Asia.

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Disneyland Paris renames theme park in $2 billion revamp

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Facade os Disney Paris with Disney's characters standing in front of it
The transformation of Walt Disney Studios Park will see it almost double in size.

Disneyland Paris has unveiled a new name for Walt Disney Studios Park as part of the park’s US$2 billion transformation.

Walt Disney Studios Park will become Disney Adventure World when the new immersive area, World of Frozen, opens.

The transformation of Walt Disney Studios Park will see it almost double in size.

“We’re changing the story of Walt Disney Studios Park, evolving from ‘how it’s done’ soundstages to celebratory theatres and adventures that come to life in immersive worlds,” said Tom Fitzgerald, chief storytelling executive at Walt Disney Imagineering and senior creative executive for Disneyland Paris.

“These fully realised adventure worlds will become the focus of the park’s new identity and appear as realms that guests discover as they navigate deeper within the park and are invited to participate in adventures inspired by our most beloved stories.”

As part of the rebrand, the park’s entrance is also being reimagined, with the current design replaced with ‘crafted décor that pays homage to historic movie theaters in Hollywood and the entertainment industry as a whole.’

“Embracing a transformation that involves the overhaul of more than 90 percent of Walt Disney Studios Park since its debut in 2002, we’re unveiling a fresh creative vision that has completely redefined our second gate,” said Natacha Rafalski, president of Disneyland Paris.

Previous investments in the property include World of Pixar, which opened at the park in 2021 and Avengers Campus (2022).

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EU economy forecast to grow 1.0% in 2024

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Expected economy growth is largely due to consumers spending more this year | Photo: Christiann Koepke

The Commission has published this week a new forecast for the European Union economy, with a more upbeat scenario for consumers. After a downturn in economic activity in 2023, inflation rates will continue to drop and the EU economy should gradually grow in 2024. This is largely driven by ‘consumers spending more, thanks to higher wages and more job opportunities,’ it is believed. 

Concretely, the EU economy should grow 1.0% in 2024. The euro area economy should reach 0.8% of growth. In 2025, GDP will grow even more. Meantime, EU inflation has fallen dramatically since it peaked in 2022. It is expected to wind down to 2.7% in 2024 and to 2.2% in 2025.  

The jobs market is also performing well. Despite the slowdown in activity, the EU economy created more than 2 million jobs in 2023. Activity and employment rates of people aged 20-64 hit new record highs in the last quarter of the year. In March 2024, the unemployment rate in the EU stood at a record low of 6.0%. 

Some challenges remain. For instance, investment growth is slowing since fewer new homes are being built, which affects various industries. As a result, it is expected that interest rates will drop more slowly than anticipated. 

The Commission publishes four economic forecasts throughout a given year, covering GDP and inflation data for all Member States, the EU and the euro area. 

In the UK the scenario is also looking positive, with the Office for National Statistics having recently confirmed that the UK unemployment rate for January to March 2024 (4.3%) is above estimates of a year ago (January to March 2023), and increased in the latest quarter. 

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Mango to strengthens its presence in the UK with 20 store openings

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Mango store facade at Oxford street, London
At the close of the 2023 financial year, Mango had 60 stores in the UK

Mango, one of Europe’s leading fashion groups, continues its expansion and brand consolidation plan in the UK with more than 20 store openings planned for 2024. Growth is focused on expanding its presence in London and Scotland, as well as the arrival for the first time in several cities in Northern Ireland and central and southern England.

“The UK is one of the priority markets for Mango’s international growth. The increased presence in London and our arrival this year in some cities where we have not been present until now will consolidate the Mango brand and help us to strengthen it internationally,” says Daniel López, Mango’s Director of Expansion and Franchising.

The company plans four store openings in London this year, in addition to last February’s opening of a store in the Windsor Yards shopping centre in the heart of historic Windsor, close to Windsor Castle

Mango will also increase its presence in Scotland with store openings in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and for the first time will reach cities in Northern Ireland, as well as central and southern England. 

The new Mango store will incorporate the New Med Mediterranean-inspired store concept, reflecting the spirit and freshness of the brand. Sustainability and architectural integration are the key to this new design that conceives the Mango store as a Mediterranean home with different spaces in which warm tones and neutral colours predominate, combined with traditional, handcrafted, sustainable and natural materials such as ceramics, tuff, wood, marble, esparto grass and leather.

 
Mango has been present in the UK since 1999. In 2021, the company strengthened its presence in the country with the opening of a new flagship store on Oxford Street in London and three other stores in Manchester, Edinburgh and Derby. 

Last year, Mango opened more than 10 stores, mainly in the south and centre of the country, in major cities such as Bristol, London, Manchester and Leeds. Key among them was the store opening in Westfield Stratford City, one of the largest shopping centres in the UK. In addition, the company arrived for the first time in Brighton with a 470 m2 store in the Churchill Square shopping centre.

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