Social Entrepreneurs – Have Your Say, Strasbourg, January 2014
SEN shared its learning on how to use the Structural Funds to support social enterprises to the Commission’s major social enterprise event in Strasbourg in January 2014. It contributing to the Structural Funds workshop and hosted two open space discussions.
The Social Entrepreneurs – Have Your Say event in Strasbourg on 16-17 January 2014 marked the end of the first phase of the European Commission’s Social Business Initiative, and aimed to set the agenda for the next Commission.
SEN, as the key network that is building capacity for social enterprise support, made two contributions. Paweł Chorąży, who is in charge of the EU’s largest ESF programme, presented SEN to the workshop on the Structural Funds, which attracted some 200 people. He explained the partnership principle on which the network is built, its peer review methodology, and the five topics it is addressing.
SEN also hosted two tables in the free-format ‘open space’ discussions – on the subjects of social franchising and finance. The table on “Why is it so difficult to set up public-private funds to support social enterprises?” focussed on Local Impact Funds, which are being piloted in Liverpool prior to being rolled out across England. Chris Dadson from the Social Investment Business (SIB) and Val Jones from Social Enterprise North West explained how the €24m scheme is structured to combine ESF grants for ‘investment readiness’ support with loans funded from ERDF and private sources. The ERDF’s intervention is crucial, as it enables the fund to survive the losses that will inevitably occur. SIB is piloting a second such fund in Northampton.
[photo: Dorotea presenting]
Greek Presidency conference, June 2014
Greece is a member of SEN, and the network made three inputs, on networking, finance and impact measurement, to the Greek EU Presidency social entrepreneurship conference, held in Iraklion, Crete, on 10-11 June 2014. As a result SEN was invited to present its results to the European Commission policy-makers planning the continuation of the Social Business Initiative.
The Greek Presidency’s conference on social entrepreneurship gave Greek participants a panorama of developments and initiatives in social enterprises across Europe, which could inform Greek policy and practice. At national and local level there is plenty of political commitment to building a social enterprise sector, but equally there was sadly evidence of blockages in implementation.
Dorotea Daniele outlined SEN’s structure and presented the lessons of its peer reviews:
Building public sector capacity depends on interministerial coordination to break the silo mentality. A partnership approach to policy planning builds capacity on both sides. Growth of social enterprise benefits from open markets through public procurement and partnership, and the creation of structures such as consortia and social franchising. The lessons on finance are to combine grants, loans and guarantees, to combine public with private and ERDF with ESF, and to use different tools for different needs.
Małgorzata Lublinska relayed the lessons for fund programmers that came out of SEN’s peer review on finance, held in Warsaw in April. Poland has learnt from its pilot loan fund (ES-Fund ES), and carried out a financial gap analysis, which revealed that social enterprises need working capital. For the 2014-20 period, it has designed a more sophisticated financial support structure. Grants will be the main means of support for start-ups, while established businesses will have access to a flexible loan scheme. This will have a single fund manager with regional access points. There are to be additional grants scheme for enterprises with an exceptionally high social impact.
Floriana Nappini also described BFSE’s work on social impact assessment.
Italian Presidency conference, November 2014
The Italian Presidency Conference on social economy brought together more than 600 people in Rome for two days. Its main political result is the Rome Strategy, which Italian Ministry of Labour Giuliano Poletti is going to promote to the European institutions, in order to recognise the unique role of the social economy in attaining the objective of “smart, sustainable and inclusive growth”.
SEN chaired workshop 2 on the role of EU structural funds for supporting social economy (Moderator: Paweł Chorąży, Rapporteur: Dorotea Daniele), where Małgorzata Lublinska relayed the lessons for fund programmers that came out of SEN’s peer reviews. The main lessons were:
- Synergies and coordination between different sources of funding and different support measures and structures should be increased;
- Structural funds and public policies should have an enabling role, because social economy should remain independent;
- An integrated strategic approach designed, implemented and assessed through partnerships is key;
- Other crucial elements are flexibility, quality, transparency, accountability and focus on results of programmes and projects;
- Transnational cooperation is needed at all levels: among Managing Authorities (MAs), among stakeholders and between MAs and stakeholders. Transnational networks promote mutual learning and transfer of good practices and their activity should continue in the new programming period.
Other members of SEN participated as speakers in the different workshops, namely Krzysztof Herbst, Petra Francová, Sven Bartilsson, Luigi Martignetti, Lippe Koivuneva and Samuel Barco.
The Rome Strategy can be downloaded at www.socialeconomyrome.it