How we work

We aim for maximum social impact.

We help and inspire young talent to develop, start and sustain their business.


Socionext offers a five-day accelerated workshop that teaches people how to come up with, start and sustain a business. Does that sound fast? Yes, it does! but it leads to real and lasting results.

Watch one of our participants

We focus on social innovation and entrepreneurship, and take participants through a step-by-step process: from the first ideas through prototype design and the development of a realistic viable product.

Learning by doing

Participants learn how to test the critical assumptions which underlie their business models with real customers. This way they can see if their business case can actually be successful.

This rapid approach significantly shortens the product development cycle. That saves time, money and other resources. And it’s fun! ! From the first day on, our participants realize that they can make their dreams of being entrepreneurs come true.

What can be achieved

In 2015 and 2016 Socionext prototyped and tested its program with more than 1500 participants in all kinds of places: at rural universities and in rural and peri-urban townships in five provinces, across South Africa and Botswana.

Within three to four days participants are selling and getting feedback and orders from real customers. Supported by local mentors trained and supervised by Socionext, businesses are developed, pivoted where needed, registered and grown.

Who can benefit

Our program was developed over four years at the University of Amsterdam and at the Copenhagen Business School. Our methodology means we can customize our program to the needs of our partners and clients.

As a result the program is not only for projects that try to tackle youth unemployment in South Africa, but also for institutions such as universities and education agencies that try to promote talent amongst their students and members.

Surprising results

In a recent survey (February 2019) among 352 participants in our 2016, 2017 and 2018 programs we found some surprising results.

  • Of the 352 people who responded to our survey, 49% are still active in business.
  • 11% are still in the businesses created during the workshop.
    while 38% have gone on to start other businesses.
  • 20% have found employment.
  • 7% have gone back to school or started university studies.
“I came here with no idea that today I will leave a different person, motivated and inspired to venture into social entrepreneurship. My thinking has been completely transformed and I have had a life changing experience.” - Thuto Thawa


Socionext also offers a four-day accelerated commercial workshop that teaches the fundamentals of the Lean Start-up methodology and how it can be used to effectively start and scale a business.

Whether you have an already existing business or are interested in starting one, the Lean Start-up method can provide you with the right tools and mindset to explore the viability of any business opportunity cheaply, quickly and effectively.

Learning by doing

Our 4-day program has a very practical learning-by-doing format.

It uses the latest insights into entrepreneurship and business development - also recommended by Harvard and Stanford.

All the material is presented and done in a very simple and easy to understand format that requires no insight into difficult theories.

However, we do make sure participants grasp the essential elements of the Lean Start-up approach and how these are rooted in theory.

The program takes participants, step-by-step, through a series of practical exercises that result in a tested and validated business proposition.

The Lean Start-up Methodology

Our program is based on the Lean Start-up methodology.

After a quick scan of various elements that are essential for a business (business model canvas) we zoom in on the elements most essential for success – the value proposition and a very precise definition of the most relevant customer segments (early adopters).

We help participants to Identify the most critical assumptions underlying these elements of their business idea.

Based on these critical assumptions participants are then guided through a process to build a minimum viable product that can be tested with customers (rapid prototyping and testing) and able to get customer feedback and learn from it.

The goal is to reduce the product development cycle to a minimum and to save time, resources and money.

Rapid Prototyping

Instead of spending months on developing a business plan on paper, participants actually start building their businesses from the very first day.

This happens because they are assisted to design prototypes of their products and services that can be tested with actual customers.

Customer feedback can then be immediately used to improve the design of their business. Every step in the business development is supported and validated by customer feedback.

This forms the building blocks of what would eventually become a fully-worked out business case that has been tested with customers and stakeholders.

In the process participants also learn to tell the stories of their business development, again, building up step-by-step to the final pitch on the last day.

Experience and Track Record

Socionext pioneered the application of the Harvard Business School Lean Start-up method to social entrepreneurship and social innovation at universities in Europe, starting in 2010.

Socionext has more than seven years of experience implementing its programs for different target groups in the Netherlands, Denmark, Georgia, South Africa and Botswana.

Socionext Africa is applying this method to the activation of social innovation and entrepreneurship throughout South Africa.

Since 2014, almost 2000 participants have succeeded in creating innovative business ideas, that were accelerated and tested with real customers, validating their businesses and often generating their first sales and contracts.

Over this period, Socionext has proven that the Lean Start-up methodology can be applied successfully for different target groups in South Africa. For example, Socionext was commissioned to prepare 20 finalists in the City of Johannesburg Green City Challenge with a prize money of 1 million rand:
-> Read more about the Green City Challenge here

And for a real life example of what can be done using this methodology see:
-> The incredible story of The Big Pill Machine

Socionext has more than seven years of experience implementing its programs for different target groups in the Netherlands, Denmark, Georgia, South Africa and Botswana.


Always include:

  • Understanding and application of the Business Model Canvas
  • Effective prototyping, development of Minimum Viable Product
  • Actual testing with real customers and stakeholders
  • Co-creation and Pivoting
  • Validation of business cases
  • Presentation and pitching skills

And in a growing number of cases:

  • Sustainable businesses
  • Employment creation
“An experience I will never forget. I came to the workshop without any entrepreneurial skills and came out as a business man. Socionext changed my way of thinking. Great!“ - Siyabong Zwane


We have more than 6 years of experience implementing our program for different target groups in the Netherlands, Denmark, Georgia, South Africa and Botswana.

1500 participants succeeded in creating innovative business ideas that they could accelerate and test with real customers within only 5 days, validating their businesses and often generating their first sales and contracts.

Even if some never become entrepreneurs, they learn essential work-place skills, such as presentation skills, teamwork and the confidence to think outside the box.


Developed at the University of Amsterdam and the Copenhagen Business School

Our program was developed over a period of four years (2010-2014) at the University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands) and at the Copenhagen Business School (Denmark). We were one of the earliest adopters at European Universities of this new approach to entrepreneurship. Recently, our program was accredited at Rhodes Business School.


University students.

Existing and starting entrepreneurs

Unemployed youth (18-35 years old) with only secondary education and no entrepreneurship experience.