According to the European Commission, the term “social enterprise” means “an operator in the social economy whose main objective is to have a social impact instead of obtaining a benefit for its owners or shareholders”. A social enterprise operates by providing goods and services for the market in an entrepreneurial and innovative manner and it uses its profits mainly to achieve social objectives. It is managed in an open and responsible manner and, in particular, involves employees, consumers and interested parties affected by their commercial activities (Social Business Initiative, October 2011). The concept of social enterprise is part of the social economy sector, which includes cooperatives, mutual societies, non-profit associations and foundations. According to official data from the European Commission, there are more than 2 million social enterprises in Europe, which means 10% of all companies. More than 160 million people participate in social enterprises that contribute to EU employment, social cohesion, regional and rural development, environmental protection, consumer protection, agricultural development, third countries development and development of the policies of social security. The European Commission identifies many challenges faced by social enterprises within member states, such as a low level of recognition, lack of entrepreneurial skills, lack of interconnection between stakeholders from different regions or countries, difficulties in accessing financial opportunities, varied environments regulatory frameworks throughout the EU, low level of awareness of social entrepreneurship and an unclear common definition of social entrepreneurship. On the other hand, the adult sector has suffered a lot during the last economic crisis, especially in the countries of southern Europe, with high unemployment rates, difficulties in accessing the labour market again and, moreover, with the presence of too many barriers that prevent people from being retrained at a professional level to be trained and gain the skills required by an increasingly dynamic and demanding job market.
Objectives of the project:
The ISSE project aims to support EU objectives by increasing the visibility of social entrepreneurship through the development of tools for new social entrepreneurs that allow them to professionalize their profile and support them so that their businesses will be sustainable in the future; an added value will be the increase of these values among the population of adults. The objective of the ISSE Project is to make professionals understand better the social economy sector and to support them by strengthening their managerial skills, professionalism and networking opportunities.
The specific objectives of the ISSE project are:
– To sensitize people on the topic of social entrepreneurship activities in Europe by increasing the knowledge, skills and abilities of
the stakeholders to support new social entrepreneurs;
– To promote and stand up for social entrepreneurship at local and European level;
– To promote leadership by focusing on the concept of social entrepreneurship activities in general with specific attention on
business skills, leadership and management, needs and analysis of problems and financing;
– To promote social entrepreneurship initiatives among adults by analyzing the changes which take place in their own countries and
communities and which inspire them to consider self-employment as a career option;
– To provide future social entrepreneurs with access to training, mentoring and financing opportunities;
– To increase the inclusion of disadvantaged categories by promoting social enterprise;
– To create a strong and sustainable network of partners and associated partners;
Why transnational level?
The objective of the ISSE project is to develop transnational project activities to improve the visibility of the social economy through the development of European associations, in order to develop a European recognition of the activities undertaken by social economy companies and the impact that generate for society. By promoting skills-building initiatives at European, national and local levels, the ISSE project increases awareness of the opportunities provided at European, national and local level for (future) social entrepreneurs. As a matter of fact, the use of digital skills and digital literacy will bring equitable access to information and opportunities to stakeholders in countries where the social economy is still underdeveloped. Therefore, the development and diffusion of knowledge and experience with respect to the social
enterprise will develop an effective European network and an exchange of experiences will be further enhanced with the developed and emerging countries.