Social keys for social entrepreneurship

Last Wednesday [27 January], the workshop on the project “Social Keys for Social Entrepreneurship in Europe” took place. The project was launched by Diesis, representing a network of thousands of social economy enterprises all over Europe, as part of the Erasmus+ Programme 2014-2020.

Main challenges to social entrepreneurship

The main challenge of social entrepreneurship is the lack of specialised training and education in the sector. Activities and professional figures related to the social economy are indeed not often clearly defined in terms of learning outcomes. Furthermore, workers in the sector are finding obstacles to pursue further training due to the lack of recognised qualifications in this field. Barriers to social entrepreneurship can also vary depending on countries; in Italy, inadequate public resources, delayed payment for public procurements, and the complex legislative framework constitute the key obstacles, while in Greece a lack of information is the main difficulty.

The Social Keys for Social Entrepreneurship project

In a nutshell, the project aims to promote social economy in Europe through a renewed approach to entrepreneurship. This involves innovative methods of vocational education training (VET), such as specific courses and relevant qualifications. The project focuses mainly on students, social entrepreneurs, VET providers and other workers in the sector. It aims to reduce the number of low-skilled adults in the sector, and promote the take-up of practical entrepreneurial experiences in education, training and youth work.

A promising future

The project appears to be an effective response to today’s difficulties experienced by the social economy. It offers the opportunity for youths to create businesses in a different way, more respectful of human beings and the environment. As Maria Podlasek-Ziegler from the European Commission’s department for education and culture (DG EAC) pointed out, this is also a great opportunity to find sustainable solutions for empowering young people. More than offering key business skills, it provides a toolkit of attitudes and mindsets necessary for a successful social entrepreneur. In other words, it gives them the possibility to succeed in their business plan while remaining aware of fundamental moral principles. It is a good step towards an economic system based on ethical values such as solidarity, social justice and equality, far away from reckless capitalism. The project is also an effective way of reconciling the need for innovation and growth with the desire to include a social and human dimension in the Europe 2020 strategy’s targets. The social economy not being a priority on the political agenda, this is an opportunity policy-makers need to seize.