Anna Kucinska
06 December 2014

Identity and visibility: The Finnish Social Enterprise Mark

Cluster:  Identity and visibility/Cyprus 7. – 8. October 2014

 

The Finnish Social Enterprise Mark 

Authors and organizational affiliations:

CEO Tero Lausala and Development Manager Kimmo Nekkula; the Association for Finnish Work

CEO Kimmo J. Lipponen; the Finnish Association for Social Enterprises (ARVO)

Ministerial Adviser Auli Korhonen; Enterprise and Innovation Department; the Ministry of Employment and the Economy 

Ministerial Adviser Päivi Haavisto-Vuori and Senior Government Adviser Lippe Koivuneva; Employment and Entrepreneurship Department, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy 

 

1. Context and history of how the good practice has been developed

In 2011, the High Level Working Group of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy (“the MEE”) outlined the strategy and the policies for social enterprises. The WG stated that it is necessary to define the business model of the social enterprises to distinguish it from corporate social responsibility and charity. In addition to the general objective and the business idea, the characteristics for a social enterprise were listed as openness and customer-orientation; transparency of the activities; and social impact.  The WG did in practice recognize the social mission and the special characteristics of the social enterprises but stated that these enterprises should be in an equal position as other enterprises in granting support.  

The work and the definition made by the WG built the ground for the Social Enterprise Mark (later “the Mark”). The WG proposed that a mark, representing the business model, should be adopted.  In December 2011, the Mark was launched. The basis for the definition of the social enterprise was in the Social Business Initiative of the Commission. The Mark is meant for enterprises that aim to solve social and ecological problems and promote social efforts with the help of their business operations. They use most of their profits to benefit society according to their goals and values. Openness and transparency also characterize their business model. 

The members of the WG represented various stakeholders and expertise on the field incl. representatives of the social enterprises. Thus, the proposal was not a top-down initiative or an attempt to introduce a new kind of social undertaking but to make the social enterprises and their special character visible and offer them for instance a marketing tool. The attempt was to make it of value to the social enterprises themselves (credibility, visibility, customer and investment base etc.). 

It has been estimated that there are thousands of social enterprises in Finland (5 000 – 12 000). The estimated number is based on the survey of the Federation of Finnish Enterprises. In fact, it is a rough estimate of the amount of enterprises that could be somehow social by the nature. Still, it is very difficult to say how many of them could actually meet the criteria of the social enterprise or the Mark. Many Finnish social and health care enterprises; work integration social enterprises; business models aimed at developing rural areas and local communities; businesses working in the art and culture; and start-up companies for  instance promoting sustainable development can be nowadays described as social enterprises. Finland also has a long tradition of various kinds of co-operatives as well as associations and foundations doing business for social benefit. However, all of them do not necessarily fulfill all the criteria of a social enterprise.

In this Finnish case study, in addition to the Social Enterprise Mark, two other independent examples are studied and presented: firstly, the green butterfly mark of the work integration social enterprises (“wises”), granted by the MEE itself. Wises are regulated by special national legislation, but they do not necessarily have to be social enterprises fulfilling the criteria of the Mark or the Social Business initiative of the Commission.  The registered wises have a green butterfly –mark of their own. However, some of the wises have also received the Social Enterprise Mark. Still, the two marks/brands are basically not connected or dependent on each other. So far these marks/brands have not caused any confusion, perhaps partly because of their limited visibility in public.  Also, they have different histories and purposes. 

The other example is a result of the sector itself getting organized. There has been an umbrella organization for social enterprises, the Social Entrepreneurs’ Association of Finland (SYY ry.). However, a new association for social enterprises ARVO was launched 2 September 2014. Since it is a member of the Confederation of Finnish Industries (the employers´ organization in Finland), it will probably add to the visibility and influence of the sector.  

NB! ARVO which represents the sector of the social enterprises in the employers´ confederation is not to be mixed with the Association of Finnish Work which manages the Social Enterprise Mark. The latter does not represent the social enterprises even though it co-operates closely with them when managing the Social Enterprise Mark.

2. Summary of main characteristics of good practice approach

The structure and the criteria of the Mark

The Mark is granted and managed by the Association for Finnish Work (later “the Association”).  The Association was founded in 1912, and it has nearly 2 500 members. The mission is to strengthen the Finnish work, which is done by communication, marketing, campaigns, surveys and member services. Focus groups are consumers, trade and businesses, policy makers and media.

The Association was chosen the manager of the Mark for instance on the basis of its strong expertise and experience in managing also other successful Marks, which are nowadays well-known and appreciated in Finland. The 45 years old “Key Flag” shows that a product or service originates from Finland while the Mark “Design from Finland” ensures their quality of Finnish design. For all the labels it takes time to break into the common knowledge. Regarding the Mark, the Association has knowledge in social entrepreneurship/enterprises. 

The Board of the Association nominates a Committee of experts, which assesses the applications in its meetings held about four or five times per year. The Committee gathers the relevant stakeholders who represent for instance the social enterprises, the social partners and the MEE.  The Committee is chaired by honorary mining counsellor, Mr. Kari Neilimo from the University of Tampere. 

If the numbers of the applicants of the Mark increase, the resources are able to adapt themselves. For instance the number of the meetings of the Committee could rise from four up to six per year. A high number as such is not an objective since it is the quality that matters foremost to make and keep the Mark reliable to the relevant stakeholders and to the public. Every applicant is assessed case by case, and so is their social/societal or environmental mission. That mission has to be clearly stated in official documents. Social and economic missions do not differ in the evaluation process.

Social enterprises can be described and evaluated on the basis of how much attention the enterprise pays to the areas illustrated in the diamond model

A diamond model of social entrepreneurship

The Committee assesses the enterprises applying for the Mark by using the criteria described in its rules. The business has to be lucrative, which is seen for instance from the balance sheet.  Therefore, normally the enterprise has experienced at least one accounting period. However, for a starting enterprise, the Mark can be granted for one year. 

The Mark has been granted to 49 enterprises by September 2014: 34 companies limited by shares, seven foundations, five associations, two co-operatives and one trade name. The aim is to keep the quality standard of the Mark guaranteed. In October 2014, there are 53 enterprises that have met the criteria for the Mark. In 2013, the rejection rate was about 50%, and in 2014, the rejection rate has been 31% so far (still one more Committee meeting in December). The applicants consider themselves social/societal, and therefore they want to get the Mark to prove it and to get benefit for their business. 

The reason for rejection has mainly been poor economic state. Even if the business was considered social, the Committee did not consider it solid. There may have been several years with a negative profit, which has resulted in a poor balance. In other cases the applicant has been a start-up enterprise. It has been very difficult to prove that the business is economically solid without any financial period to back it. In some cases the reason for rejection was that the Committee did not simply see the social/societal mission in the business. For a reliable brand, it is important to keep the criteria strict. It is the Committee´s responsibility to ensure that no seemingly social enterprise that merely wants to use it as a marketing tool can get the Mark. The Committee evaluates the applicants´ social mission case by case. Everything has to be very transparent.

The assessment focuses on three primary criteria but other characteristics of social enterprises are also taken into consideration.

Primary criteria

* The primary objective and aim of a social enterprise is to promote social well-being. A social enterprise acts responsibly.

* Limited distribution of profits. A social enterprise uses most (more than 50%) of its profits for the benefit of society either by developing its own operations or by giving a share of its profits to charity according to its business idea.

* Transparency and openness of business operations. In order to assure transparency, the enterprise applying for the Mark must write down its social goals and limited distribution of profits in its Articles of Association or Rules.

The primary objective of the social enterprise must be the promotion of public good. For instance for a limited company, this must be seen from its Articles of Association. If this is not the case, the applicant of the Mark has to present a plan with a timetable how this objective will be included in the Articles within one year. 

 

Secondary criteria

In addition to the above-mentioned key characteristics, one or more of the following features are related to social entrepreneurship: 

- promoting the well-being of employees and developing ways for the personnel to get their voice heard,

- paying special attention to those belonging to vulnerable groups and

- demonstrating the social impacts of the enterprise.

The applicant of the Mark must be a member of the Association or apply for membership at the same time. 

If an enterprise has a got the Mark, it is supposed to give an annual affirmation to the Association in an electric form. This will include information about fulfilling the criteria of a social enterprise (for instance incl. using at least 50 % of the profit into public good). 

The right to use the Mark must be repeated every third year

The cost of having the Mark is based on the turnover of the enterprise. For a turnover of one million euro the annual cost would be 678 euro. However, the social enterprises do not necessarily have big turnovers. In addition, there has been funding from the MEE (70 000 euro in 2014).  From the point of view of the MEE, this support is for marketing and strengthening the brand and its use, not for instance to compensate the shortage of other funds.  The Mark does not have or has not had any connection with the ESF or other EU funds. 

Amongst well known social enterprises in Finland are Linnanmäki amusement park, Diacor healthcare services, The Helsinki Region Recycling Center and Pikku-Syöte Ski Center.

Benefits from having the Social Enterprise Mark

 

The objectives of branding the Mark are a recognizable brand that gives added value to the enterprise; a reliable brand that associates with the values of a social enterprise;

increasing the recognition and valuation of social enterprises; expanding the Mark to new industries/sectors and more users and thus gain more visibility.

The Mark can be a quick and reliable way of informing the customers, consumers and other stakeholders that an enterprise has been incorporated in order to solve social problems; it uses most of its profit to promote its social aims and public good; and its owners are committed to the social aims of the enterprise. For instance consumers want to have more and more information about how the products and services are created before their purchasing decisions. The Mark could be used as a brand to encourage the customers and other stakeholders to do business, co-operate and network with an entrepreneur having a social and sustainable aim. Also, potential investors could be encouraged to invest on enterprises that operate in a responsible, social and sustainable way, which is tempting for the customers, and thus increases the profitableness of the enterprise/investment.

The Mark can be seen in various events such as social enterprise seminars, exhibitions and other events. The Association has launched an introduction video and a case video to promote and raise awareness of the Mark. The Mark can be found on the web page of the Association in Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

There has also been a joint b-to-b marketing campaign with the other two labels of the Association: “The Finnish Key Flag” and “Design from Finland”. The Mark is included in all the communications of the Association such as blogs, the member magazine and member info letters. The Association is also trying to get articles on social enterprises published in the main national and local media in Finland. 

Some of the social enterprises have been very active for example in promoting their mission and values by using the Mark in their advertisements. 

However, there is still some work to do in order to make the Mark more widely known and used in Finland. This is seen from the present number of the social enterprises having the Mark. There are lots of enterprises which could be entitled for the Mark but which do not apply for it for some reason. With some exceptions, those having the Mark do not use it actively as a certificate when selling their products or services. To sum up, the Mark has not (yet) developed into a brand which sells well without any advertisement (like “Starbuck´s coffee” according to the biggest newspaper in Finland, Helsingin Sanomat 26 August 2014) . 

 

Evidence/Justification for Good Practice

According to the consumer study conducted by the Association in 2013, the results were as follows:

5% of the consumers recognised the Mark.

The Mark was perceived to represent responsibility and common good.

The goals of the Mark were seen important.

54% thought that the word “responsible” described the Mark.

If the Mark was be better known, it would influence the consumer´s purchase decisions in a positive way.

Positive images of the Mark were: responsibility; common good; Finnish; entrepreneur oriented and ecological.

Negative images were: unknown; unclear mission; the term “social” difficult to define; and doubts about the implementation of the values “ecological”, “responsible” and “social benefit”.

The Mark should shift away from problem oriented approach and highlight new value based business models and social inventions.

4. Outcomes 

Why to apply for the Social Enterprise Mark? It is an easy way to state the social mission of the enterprise in public. It can make a difference from the competitors since customers value more and more social enterprises and want to use their services. It is an inexpensive marketing tool, being a convincing and reliable Mark from a widely-known and well-recognized Association with other established well-known Finnish Marks.

The Association conducted a survey for all the enterprises using the Mark in 2013. The results showed the following:

- 58% of the enterprises took part in the events and campaigns organized by the Association.

- 61% of those were happy with the outcome of the campaigns and events.

The goal was to promote both the values of the social enterprises and the Mark.

Campaigns should reach different stakeholders such as customers, beneficiaries and financiers.

Local or regional marketing campaigns would be most useful for small enterprises.

Workshops for similar enterprises to plan campaigns would be useful.

80% of the enterprises had used the marketing and communication material provided by the Association.

92% of those were happy or very happy with the material.

Most of the users had received positive feedback from customers and other stakeholders.

Only a few had faced doubts or confusion from customers and competitors.

Even in the cases with some doubt or confusion, the Mark gives the opportunity to communicate the social mission and good practices of the enterprise.

The Mark needs more promotion and marketing in the media, events and the own marketing communications of the social enterprise as well as influencing the decision makers.

New branches should be included in the users of the Mark such as retail, banking, insurance, environmental services and production of goods.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths

a reliable brand

a neutral committee evaluation process for enterprises applying for the Mark 

an easy way to communicate the social mission of the enterprises

can become an important tool in providing public social and healthcare services and applying social criteria in the public procurement process

great potential to gain many new users

 

Weaknesses

a brand that is not yet very well-known 

not yet very widely spread

limited resources for marketing and promoting the Mark

some doubts about the social benefits in practice 

According to the Brand study in 2013, 54 % of Finnish consumers think that the Mark is a proof of responsible business. The Mark is not yet well-known amongst the consumers. Once it was explained to them, most of them considered that the Mark is a very favorable phenomenon and said that they would rather choose a social enterprise marked company in their product and service decisions.

Comparisons with other Finnish experiences 

6.1. The Social Enterprises according to the definition in the special Finnish Act on Social Enterprises  

The status and the mark of a social enterprise (a wise)

These enterprises are in fact work integration social enterprises in the national Act 1351/2003, revised 924/2012, that provide employment opportunities particularly for persons with disabilities and the long-term unemployed. A registered trader may on application be entered in the special register of social enterprises, kept in the MEE, if it fulfils certain criteria.

In the register, there were 89 enterprises 9 June 2014. The legal form of the 89 wises varies: 59 of them were companies limited by shares, 10 sole traders, 6 (limited) partnerships, 9 associations, 4 co-operatives and 1 foundation.

Less than a year earlier (19 September 2013) there were 99 companies limited by shares, 21 sole traders, 16 (limited) partnerships, 10 associations, 8 co-operatives and 1 foundation which made altogether 155 wises. The overall number may fluctuate, since a wise may be deleted from the register for instance if it requests so or does not fulfil the criteria anymore. The MEE made a check on the registered wises and as a result, the number declined remarkably within one year. 

The wises operate on different sectors and lines of business, for instance restaurants; shops; cafés; tourism; lost property offices; horse breeding; estate agencies; gyms; recycling; real estate maintenance; home help, nursing and cleaning services; transportation; machine workshops; laundry services; carpentry; building; tire services; stone refining; making of ceramics; information technology etc.

 

Registration

The status “social enterprise” can only be used by an enterprise with an entry in the register of social enterprises held by the MEE. An entry in the register can be applied for by an enterprise which is registered in the Trade Register and produces commodities (services and goods) for reasons of business.

An application must be accompanied by an extract from the Trade Register; a recent tax due statement; the Articles of Association, the partnership agreement, the rules of a society or association or some other similar document; a list of those who count as the required share of employed staff (with their personal identity codes); and details of funding decisions relating to other forms of public aid or subsidy.

At least 30 % of the employees have to be disabled or previously unemployed in the long term.

 If the required share of employed staff falls below 30%, a wise has six months to rectify the situation. If it failed, it would be deleted from the register.

The enterprise has to pay all the employees the salary agreed for those with full capacity for work in the collective bargaining agreement which applies to that line of business, regardless of their productivity. If there is no such collective agreement, a normal and fair salary for the work must be paid.

The enterprise is expected not to have acted in basic contravention of the law or good business practice in its business activities and have no outstanding tax debts, social security payments or other payments due to the state, or unpaid pension, accident or unemployment insurance premiums. 

State support

Wises are considered to have the same position as any other enterprises as regards private and public financing. However, the employment authorities may provide support for the establishment of a wise and the consolidation of its operations, if the specific aim of the trading is to employ people in a disadvantaged labour market position.

An employment authority may grant financial support to the employer for the wage costs of an unemployed person (wage subsidy; the Act 916/2012). In addition to the basic wage subsidy, an additional wage subsidy can be granted for a wise under certain conditions. 

Some evaluation of the model

The final report of the ESF project “Yhteinen yritys” (July 2009 – December 2011) “State and future of the work of the work integration social enterprises in Finland” describes the development of social enterprises in Finland and contains recommendations for improving the legislation and ecosystem. The project was co-ordinated by National Institute for Health and Welfare and implemented by Syfo Oy, the Diaconia University of Applied Sciences and the Finnish Enterprise Agencies.

According to the report, in Finland the forms of social enterprise are wises, provided for by the Act, and organizations which have adopted a social enterprise business model and are therefore eligible for the Social Enterprise Mark. “Compared with its European models, the Finnish approach focuses on the business aspect of social enterprises rather than their community aspect.” 

The report reveals that running a wise is “challenging but viable”. “Social enterprises have performed better than their reputation suggests.” “A rough estimate shows that the survival rate for social enterprises is if anything somewhat higher than that of other business enterprises. Social enterprises whose finances are on the solid footing are less dependent on wage subsidies and other public grants. For the functioning of a work integration social enterprise, it is less irrelevant in which sector it operates than whether it has suitable work to offer. Social enterprises are best suited to sectors where job duties and instruction can be cost-efficiently organized. Social economy organizations and local authorities are more willing than other actors to set up work integration social enterprises. Business enterprises have the least interest in setting up social enterprises.” 

According to the report, the success of a wise depends above all on a suitable business idea, sufficient business expertise, availability of suitable employees who qualify for a subsidy, and the amount and the duration of the subsidy. A suitable business idea, availability of employees and sufficient business expertise are factors contributing to willingness to set up a social enterprise. Registered wises were also attracted by the size and duration of the wage subsidy. Other organizations stated that that the attraction of registering could be increased with successful specimen enterprises and the providing of advisory services by the employment authorities. The increase of labour costs in registering an enterprise as a wise and the high risk in relation to profitability were de-motivating factors.

Key points for improving the operating potential of wises would include:

- making recruitment clearer and quicker,

- harmonizing the various benefits and pay,

- improving the availability of business coaching, and

- facilitating a viable ecosystem for social enterprises.

In addition, the report sums up that improving the overall eco-system would require:

- development of business expertise,

- funding and investments,

- advisory services and publicity,

- increasing demand through public procurement and social corporate responsibility programmes, targeting public measures of growth-oriented social enterprises, and

- further revising the content of the Act and boosting its implementation.

Regarding the status of a wise, this has not appeared to be a very popular form of entrepreneurship even though there are some benefits connected with being registered in the register. The number of wises has been clearly below 200 while the total number of entrepreneurs was over 260 000 in 2012 (excl. primary production).

The Government has officially outlined that the legislation relating to social enterprises will be reformed. In practice, this could take place in the autumn 2014. A system will be developed in which a framework will be created for the use of hard-to-employ people in public contracts. The legislation will be revised in this context.

 

THE FINNISH ASSOCIATION FOR SOCIAL ENTERPRISES (ARVO)

The new association for social enterprises ARVO will turn a new page in the history of social entrepreneurship in Finland. In Finland, the tripartite social dialogue is traditionally very strong. The new organization is a member of the Confederation of Finnish Industries, which is the powerful employers´ organization in Finland. 

ARVO defines that a social enterprise is privately owned; the primary aim of the business is, however, to promote social/societal objectives; and it uses its profits to implement the activities that are in accordance with these objectives. The criteria are following:

The aim of the business is to promote a societal objective: social, health/well-being, ecological, employment, culture.

The enterprise operates on the market, and the majority of the income comes from sales of services/goods.

 The enterprise is independent on public sector (independent management and operational activities).

The enterprise uses its profits primarily to promote social objectives or to grow the enterprise and secondarily for dividends.

The operations of the enterprise are based on ethical rules; it is transparent and in accordance with good governance. 

The mission of ARVO is to foster ethically and economically sustainable entrepreneurship in Finland. The vision is that ARVO will be a recognized force and reformer of the growing social entrepreneurship in Finnish business.

ARVO will promote the interests of social enterprises. It will also promote visibility and reputation of the social and value-based enterprises.  At the same time it will promote a more precise definition of social entrepreneurship and what such entrepreneurship demands. The term has been used in diverse ways, and at the worst, even in misleading ways. ARVO will influence legislation; coordinate the statements of Finnish business; brighten up the image of the social enterprises; lead the discussion and influence the research. It will influence the favorable development for instance by creating new financing models.

On its web pages, ARVO also states that it aims at strengthening the structures of socially and ecologically sustainable society. It will offer support of successful business models for those enterprises, which includes using money as a means to promote social objectives, and therefore maximizing the profit is not an end in itself. The member organizations know that they are responsible for their actions not only to their owners but to the society at whole. They set ambitious objectives and ethical rules to support them.

Responsibility for the surrounding society (The members look for solutions to the problems of their own business and the surrounding society also with bottom-up civic activity; and they build active dialogue with local communities.)

Responsible finances (Majority of the economic results will be invested in the operations which are in accordance with the social objective. The duties as tax-payers are done; no investments in tax-paradises; no imprudent maximizing of economic profits; no involvement with grey economy; no co-operation or doing business with an enterprise which is known to act illegally.)

Responsibility for the environment (Responsibility for the influence of the operations in the environment; attempting to slow down the climate change from one´s own part;  saving water and minimizing  the use of non-renewable energy, C02 –emissions and the amount of waste; efficient recycling; public environment programmes as well as reporting on success and development areas.)

Openness and good governance (All the business activities are honest, open and in accordance with good governance. Communication is transparent and true. Operations and economy are reported in an open and understandable manner.  Unethical consumption is not encouraged with operations or marketing; nor shall there be contradiction with the general principles of sustainable development.)

Appreciation of the personnel (The members want to be good and desirable employers, offering appreciation for the employees in their work; paying decent salaries which are fairly commensurate with the work, tasks and knowledge.  The employees will be managed well; and when remunerating the management, the member enterprises will be fair and they do not let the wage differences grow unfair inside the enterprise. Well-being at work will be actively supported as well as training opportunities of the whole personnel and the working conditions of the employees and subcontractors. The actions of various employer and employee organizations will be appreciated and organization of the employees of the member enterprises supported.)

Management/leadership based on values (As members of ARVO, enterprises rely strongly on their values, and respecting these basic values is as important as success in business.) 

At the beginning, ARVO had only 12 member organizations, but these are big and influential actors in general in Finland in their own various sectors and also in social entrepreneurship. Some of them have got the Mark. However, it has been explicitly stated on the web pages that having the Mark is not a prerequisite for membership in ARVO.

The cost of membership is max. 0,04 % of the total wages of the previous year. The minimum membership fee is 200 euro and the maximum 10 000 euro. This does not include the membership fee of the Confederation of Finnish Industries.

The membership is applied with an electric form. The applicant has to express the reason for applying the membership and what are the social objectives of the organization.  

It is to be seen, how the relationship between two “labels”: the Mark and the membership of ARVO will turn out. In the Association for Finnish Work, the expectations are positive and there is no competition but complementarity and co-operation anticipated. The cooperation is open and positive also from ARVO´s perspective.

 

Overall assessment and transferability

7.1. Overall assessment of the three examples

The Mark was established in 2011, so it has existed less than three years so far. ARVO was founded in December 2013 and was actually launched not earlier than in September 2014 when it also appointed the CEO, so it hasn´t been here for a long time, either. It is still too early to make conclusions about the success of the Mark or to anticipate how ARVO will gain members and succeed in its mission.  Still, clearly a lot of work has to be done in order to get the recognition for the Mark higher and more enterprises to apply for it.

Both the Mark and the butterfly mark of the wises can be and in fact are used by the “marked” enterprises if and how they want to when promoting their services and products. Wises are basically “social” only in the sense that they employ people who are in a vulnerable position in the labor market. The butterfly is not seen very often for instance since the wises in general may be small and scattered all-over the country. They may not get any added value from advertising their special character. The butterfly mark has not been advertised from the Ministry in any way after the butterfly was designed. 

The criteria for the Mark are broader and those enterprises have much bigger variety of social missions than wises. Some big social enterprises tend to use all their marks/brands, which they may have several (the Mark, the butterfly, probably also membership in ARVO, CSR –labels etc.). However, some social enterprises are so well-known and respected brands in Finland that they have not seen any benefit from getting any extra goodwill and applying for the Mark.

 

7.2. Transferability

As a good practice, the Mark is transferable, if there is a proper organization to grant and manage the Mark and there are sufficient funds and expertise as well as other resources for it. Temporary project funding like the ESF may not be a very good basis since creating a reliable quality brand and marketing it in the public and in the sector takes time and various kinds of efforts. There should be persistent training, events, information and communication and other activities connected with the Mark. At the same time, the Mark can act both as a visibility and the identity tool.

When granting a Mark or another certificate, the criteria of a social enterprise defined in the communication “Social Business Initiative” by the Commission could be taken into account.  This might be helpful especially in the cases where there are plans for businesses across the borders. Also, the Mark can be an important element in building the identity of a social enterprise, but at the same time it can play as a role model for other social enterprises. It can also build the visibility and reliability of the recognized social enterprises to the stakeholders incl. the general public.

The Mark is transferable into different contexts since it is independent of national legislative frameworks. It can easily be adapted to national ecosystems. However, strong support from the sector of the social enterprises is needed for the Mark to succeed. The more there are respectable and reliable users of the Mark, the more there are quality applicants, and with the support of the recognized Mark the brand and the special characteristics of the social enterprises gain reputation. This may support the enterprises for instance in getting investments, in public procurement and generally in business. 

References:

Weblinks and bibliography

http://.www.avainlippu.fi

http://www.tem.fi/en/enterprises/social_enterprises

http://www.arvoliitto.fi/

 

 

 

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