Encouraging Inclusive Entrepreneurship

The Development Partnerships (DPs) that were launched under the Entrepreneurship pillar of EQUAL operated in two main fields of action:

  • Business Creation: 'Opening up the business creation process to all by providing the tools required for setting up in business and for the identification and exploitation of new possibilities for creating employment in urban and rural areas'.
  • Social economy: Strengthening the social economy (the third sector), in particular the services of interest to the community, with a focus on improving the quality of jobs.
Strategic lessons
en EQUAL Compendium On Inclusive Entrepreneurship – 2008
This compendium draws together the lessons learnt on the subject of inclusive entrepreneurship during the EQUAL programme, which ran from 2002 until 2007. EQUAL supported entrepreneurship projects that focused on business creation and the social economy
en Inclusive and Social entrepreneurship- 20 Innovative solutions - 2008
This document contains a compilation of 20 examples of EQUAL Development Partnerships that have implemented some innovative solutions to encourage inclusive entrepreneurship.
Policy briefs
These policy briefs arise from the work carried out in the Entrepreneurship pillar of EQUAL, which comprises the Business Creation and Social Economy themes.
      Inclusive Entrepreneurship: culture and conditions en - 2007
This document explains how good practices tested under EQUAL reinforced the policy orientations and priorities at EU level by addressing the business needs and potential of under-represented groups. The projects highlighted the importance of policies to change the culture and conditions for entrepreneurship as a prerequisite for all subsequent steps to improve business support and finance.
      Inclusive Entrepreneurship: integrated business support
This document summarises EQUAL strategies for ensuring a high quality business support system for all. These are summarised in several lines of action, which are interlinked and reinforce each other.
  • Strategies for getting out into hard-to-reach communities (outreach) en - 2008
    The brief addresses the issue of how enterprises owned and managed by people from disadvantaged groups, and those serving social objectives, can achieve growth and stability by gaining access to the markets offered by larger purchasers, in both the public and private sectors.
  • Incubators without walls en - 2008
    EQUAL has tested a range of approaches to supporting early stage businesses. One long- standing approach in high tech business has been business incubation. Business Incubation used to be defined as a workspace approach combined with support. New approaches recognise that, although all enterprises need to operate from somewhere, it is the other aspects of incubation that can be more important. Incubators provide three main ingredients for growing successful businesses:
    • An entrepreneurial and learning environment;
    • Ready access to mentors and investors;
    • Visibility in the marketplace.
  • 'Braided' support systems and One-stop shops en - 2008
    Business support systems often run the risk of being too specialised or too general with people struggling to access a chain of appropriate support to take them from the start-up to the consolidation and growth of a new enterprise. EQUAL partnerships have tested innovative ways of linking or ‘braiding’ support services from different providers to provide full and coherent business support itineraries to vulnerable groups.
      Inclusive Entrepreneurship: appropriate business finance en - 2007
      Inclusive Entrepreneurship: consolidation and growth
  • Opening up larger markets to all en - 2008
    The brief addresses the issue of how enterprises owned and managed by people from disadvantaged groups, and those serving social objectives, can achieve growth and stability by gaining access to the markets offered by larger purchasers, in both the public and private sectors.
  • Building competitive local supply chains en - 2008
    Whilst supply chains and clusters are often seen as applying only to high-end technological sectors, EQUAL partnerships have shown that taking a collective and trade-sector-based approach to developing all levels of the local supply chain can have considerable advantages over ad-hoc support for individual entrepreneurs.
      Handling exclusion through social firms en - 2007
      Value for money from social firms en - 2007
en Hard-to-reach but not excluded - EQUAL provides business support to hard-to-reach people - 2004
This brief deals with all the strategies for both finding out and reaching out to disadvantaged groups.
en Better business = inclusive support - EQUAL develops high quality support systems for all - 2004
This brief looks at the quality of business support provided to disadvantaged groups once they have taken the first step and made contact.
en Management skills for Social Enterprises - 2004
Social enterprises have a valuable contribution to make in promoting inclusion, local development and neighbourhood renewal. They face the risks that commerce is prey to, and so require professional management if they are to prosper. There is the need for better-targeted and widely available training in social enterprise management. A number of EQUAL DPs focused on the design and implementation of management training for Social enterprises and the development of new qualifications.
en Financial ladders out of social exclusion. EQUAL supports micro-finance - 2004
This brief deals with aspects of micro-finance and how to deal with social exclusion.
Background documents
Business Creation
en   Entrepreneurship as a response to restructuring - 2007
The EQUAL experience revealed that there are links between strategies to encourage business start-ups and self-employment amongst disadvantaged groups and the more global issues of restructuring. Even where projects were not explicitly set up to tackle restructuring issues, the underlying raison d’être of many projects was helping to provide effective responses to situations or opportunities generated by restructuring. This report summarises these reflections and the experience from the projects.
en   Business creation - Round two DP analysis  - 2006
en Business creation - Round two DP analysis - summary  - 2006
en   Comments on the Consultation document for a Community Support Programme for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Competitiveness 2006-2010
The group of national representatives of the thematic work carried out within the EQUAL Community Initiative has as main function to help mainstream and exchange the lessons emerging from more than 300 local Development Partnerships (DPs) working on business creation and the social economy in nearly every European Member State. This document is based on the work of the thematic group that involved successive cycles of identifying and prioritising the lessons emerging from DP activities and contrasting this with the views of policy makers concerned with entrepreneurship at regional, national and EU levels at a series of workshops and conferences.
en Analysis of business creation DPs (first round)
en Analysis of business creation and social economy Transnational Cooperation Agreements (first round)
en   Success stories of National Thematic Networks in Business creation
This document summarises the good practices that emerged from eight national thematic networks in the business creation theme during Round one of EQUAL in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, the Czech Republic, Greece, France and Portugal (see Summary below).
en Success stories of National Thematic Networks in Business creation - summary
Social Economy
en   Restructuring dimension in the social economy - 2007
This document summarises the lessons from 21 EQUAL DPs from the Social Economy theme regarding restructuring.
en   Social Economy - Round two DP analysis - 2006
en Social Economy - Round two DP analysis - summary  - 2006
en   Management skills for social enterprises
This document presents the experience of EQUAL DPs in designing and implementing management training for social enterprises and the development of new qualifications.
en   Public-private social partnership and public procurement
en   Social franchising: strengthening the social economy
en   Indicators - how to measure social added value
en Analysis of social economy DPs (first round)
This paper discusses the definition of “social economy”, and traces the development of EU policy for the sector and the definition of Social Economy theme within Equal. It then gives a short statistical analysis of the development partnerships selected for action 1, and analyses their objectives and proposed activities.
en   Contributions from the Entrepreneurship for All ETG to the Green Paper
This position paper reflects the views expressed at a European conference of the EQUAL Community Initiative on Making Entrepreneurship Accessible to All. This conference was organised as part of the work of the European Thematic Group on entrepreneurship for all, and hosted in London by the UK Small Business Service on 5-6 June 2003.
en   The social economy - building jobs, services and inclusion
Background paper that supported the work of the Social Economy European Thematic Group.
en   National social economy networks - successfully creating systemic change
National Thematic Networks (NTNs) were an important feature of EQUAL’s architecture. They allowed issues to be debated, opinions sounded out, and feedback given between the Member State governments, the development partnerships (DPs) that are working on a given theme, and other important stakeholders. They also provided a platform for collaboration between partnerships working on the same topic, and often led to joint publications, lobbying efforts and events. In EQUAL’s nine countries created a national network in the social economy: Austria, Germany, Greece, Finland, France, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and the UK (Great Britain). This document summarises their lessons learnt.
en National social economy networks - successfully creating systemic change - summary
Activities & Events
Social economy event
enGdańsk Social Economy Conference - 2008
The conference took place on 26 – 28 June 2008. Gdańsk was especially chosen to host this event. As the birthplace of the Solidarity movement and witness to the historic negotiations between Solidarity activists and the communist government in 1980, it was an ideal site to discuss new forms of social solidarity. These reflections were also encouraged by the summing up of the European Social Fund’s EQUAL Community Initiative Programme. The end of the three-year programme raises questions on the future of the social economy in Poland, prospects for its development, and creation of a friendly environment at the local, regional, national and international levels. It was also high time to look closer at the results achieved by EQUAL CIP itself.
Open days
enStructural Fund Possibilities for Social Enterprise - 2007
The event featured four workshops arising from EQUAL’s work on inclusive and social entrepreneurship, one of which was on Social economy: integrating social enterprises into local development policies. The workshop examined three contrasting methods through which policy-makers can support social enterprise. They are a comprehensive regional strategy, a network of targeted business support agencies, and collectively organised business incubators.
Social economy event
en European Social Franchise Network - 2007
The European Social Franchise Network, a spin-off from the EQUAL’s work, was launched at the meeting of the European Parliament’s interest group on the social economy on 10th October 2007. Plans were going ahead to establish a new interest group specifically on this topic, and to hold a conference at the European Parliament in February 2008.
Social economy event
enRelations between the state and the third sector in the qualification of social services, Castelo de Vide (Portugal) - 2007
The Portuguese third sector held a conference in June 2007 to exchange experiences with two key European initiatives: the way Spanish NGOs have developed a home-grown quality standard to suit their size and value-led nature, and the way the British government enthusiastically supports social enterprise.
Policy Forum: Putting the Heart into the Lisbon Process – Strategies for Inclusive Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise, Hanover - June 2007 en Final report
‘Putting the heart into the Lisbon process’, the EQUAL policy forum on inclusive and social entrepreneurship, held in Hannover on 4-6 June 2007, successfully brought the ideas of entrepreneurship and social inclusion together in a way not seen before. It laid the foundations of a platform for inclusive entrepreneurship in the new Structural Funds programming period.
Ethnic Entrepreneurship: Breaking the Barriers, Copenhagen - March 2007
enProgramme - en Slide show
en Social enterprises: equal work and business opportunities, Helsinki - February 2007
The "Social Enterprises: Equal Work and Business Opportunities" seminar on 5-6 February 2007 was organised by the Finnish Ministry of Labour, with the support of Italy, Poland, Sweden and the European Commission. It forms part of the series of events mainstreaming the learning from the work in the social economy theme of the EQUAL programme. Its objectives were to contribute to the mainstreaming of good practices in social enterprise; to bring new topics into the discussion of social enterprises and their employment potential, especially for the most disadvantaged groups in the labour market; to broaden discussion by involving policy makers at different levels; and to provide a forum at which those from within and outside the EQUAL world could discuss the development of and support for social enterprises.
Learning seminar
en How can Social Economy contribute to Local Development, Tivoli - December 2006
This was part of a series of events to mainstream the learning of the learning of Social Economy projects. This event focused on the lessons learnt on how Social Economy projects can contribute to Local Development.
Social economy event
enAsking the right questions - "Everybody's Business", Örebro - November 2006
The 300 people at the “Everybody’s Business” conference, held in Örebro in central Sweden in November 2006 could compare and contrast ways of assessing the economic costs and benefits of social economy approaches. Standing out from the throng is the 'socio-economic reporting' method applied to social co-operatives in Sweden, which showed positive social returns. This document gathers the main discussion points.
European Week of Regions and Cities: Workshop on "Innovative approaches for opening up entrepreneurship to all"  - October 2006
en Report, en Slideshow presentations
This report summarises the events that took place at the workshop on ‘Innovative approaches for opening up entrepreneurship to all’. It is stated that 22 million jobs that had to be created by 2010 to meet the Lisbon targets and the vital question that was addressed at the workshop was ‘how can we ensure that these jobs actually provide a future for disadvantaged groups living in the most deprived parts of our cities and rural areas?’ The workshop looked at the lessons learnt from EQUAL partnerships that have been working on “innovative approaches to opening up entrepreneurship to all” over the last five years. The report notes the key points from the speakers at the workshop.
Social economy event
en Social Economy - a Model for Inclusion, Entrepreneurship and Local Development, Warsaw - May 2006
Building the tools for opening up entrepreneurship to all - Amsterdam - March 2006 en Document: the results of the conference
This report summarises the events of the conference that took place to discuss how entrepreneurship could be made more accessible for EU citizens from all backgrounds. The seminar was organised by the Dutch Managing Authority of the EQUAL Community Initiative. The aim of the conference was not just to exchange good practice but also “ to take stock of the main products and lessons coming out of EQUAL as the basis for producing a European tool which can be used to assess whether entrepreneurship strategies are really “open to all” during the next round of the Structural Funds”. This report explores the extent to which the seminar achieved its goal.
enLaunching event for the EQUAL National Thematic Network on Social Economy in Germany - December 2005
This report summarises the launch of seven national thematic networks in the second half of EQUAL in Germany. The network for the social economy attracted 25 members and subsequently three working groups were created. The report describes the network’s role and the priorities of the working groups.
en EU colloquium on social enterprise and public procurement - October 2005
This paper reviews the events at a seminar held in 2005 on public procurement. The report describes the three examples of good practice drawn from three different countries, presented at the seminar and summarises the conclusions that were made.
Social economy event
en Sparking a chain reaction - Le Mat Seminar on social franchising - September 2005
A new technique to speed up the creation of successful social enterprises was the focus of the seminar on social franchising organised by the Italian DP Albergo in via dei Matti numero 0 and the Le Mat Association in Brussels on 7th September. This document summarises the main discussions.
"Support services for all" and "Access to finance for all" Workshops, Brussels - June 2004
en Outcomes, en Reports: Support systems, en Outreach, en Sustainability, en Microcredit, en Finance
en Social Economy Conference, Antwerpen - May 2004
The Strengthening the Social Economy conference was a major event that brought together those active in the social economy in the first phase of the EQUAL Community Initiative. It examined the contributions that social economy approaches were making to meet challenges such as demographic change and welfare state reform as well as labour market discrimination and inequality. It examined the relevant policies, discussed the promising practices being piloted among EQUAL development partnerships, and formulated policy messages for presentation at European level in 2004.
Quality Indicators
en Workshop document
This document provides background information for the Quality Indicators workshop. Information regarding the context of the problem of improving the quality of services and of jobs in social services, while preserving accountability to the public is provided. Furthermore the policy relevance of this issue is outlined and draft policy recommendations are provided.
en Workshop report
This report outlines the issues that were discussed at the Quality Indicators workshop and documented examples of good practice both from inside and outside EQUAL. The conclusions and recommendations that emerged from the workshop are noted, as are key policy messages.
Social Franchising
en Workshop document
This document provides background information for the Social Franchising workshop. The context of the workshop is explained, the fact that type B social co-operatives have in the main been forced to accept low added-value jobs and how this has hindered the development of this type of enterprise. Key issues and draft recommendations are also set out here.
en Workshop report
The main issues that were discussed at the Social Franchising workshop are set out and examples of good practice from EQUAL programmes are described. Furthermore policy messages are outlined.
en Workshop document
This document provides background information for the Management and other Skills workshop. The context for this workshop is explained, the fact that the specific nature of social enterprises means that they require specific new skills. This document also provides evidence of the key issues and draft policy recommendations.
en Workshop report
This report provides information on the events of the workshop and the presentations that took place. Recommendations and messages drawn from the workshop are also documented here.
Public-private-social partnership and public procurement
en Workshop document
This paper presents background information for the Public-private-social partnership and public procurement workshop. The context for the workshop is set out here and it is explained that public authorities have to adhere to formally agreed and trans­parent procedures when spending public money. Furthermore it is stated that partnerships between public authorities and social enterprises can improve the results of public procurement procedures. The main issues, evidence and draft recommendations are also outlined here.
en Workshop report
This report sets out the events and issues discussed at the workshop on the Public-private-social partnership. The achievements of the EQUAL programme in this area were noted and what could be achieved under EQUAL was also noted. The key policy messages that were drafted by participants of the workshop were also outlined.
en Workshop document
This background document deals primarily with access to finance by the social economy, rather than the major issue of the provision of finance to individuals by credit co-operatives and mutuals, which is now undergoing major changes. Key issues and cases for presentation at the workshop are also outlined. In conclusion draft recommendations are explained.
en Workshop report
This report summarises the events of the workshop and the issues that were discussed.
Support services and structures
en Workshop document
This document provides background information on the Support services and structures workshop. The context of the workshop was stated and the problem that people intending to start social enterprises, and existing social enterprises, cannot always find appropriate and accurate advice suited to their specific needs was discussed The issues and evidence is set out and draft recommendations are stated.
en Workshop report
This report outlines the events of the workshop and the discussions that took place. Furthermore three policy messages are expressed.
Business Creation and Social Economy Working groups, Brussels - October 2003,
en Outcomes, Reports:  en Culture, en Finance, en Services, en Quality and support structures, en Qualification
en Business Creation Seminar, London - June 2003

Practical work of the Development Partnerships
en   PL - Nowa Huta steels itself for change - 2007
en   FR - Entrepreneurial couples - 2007
en   IT- Social and conventional enterprises – partners in integrating excluded people
en   ES - Cooperative entrepreneurship as a response to restructuring - 2007
en   FR - Really making money - 2007
en   DE - Social firms build on winning ideas - 2007
en   NL - Changing attitudes to business on Boulevard South  - 2007
en   PL - Weaving the web - EQUAL lays the foundations for a national social economy platform - 2007
en   UKgb - GB national network puts policy impact first - 2007
en   ES - Promoting social enterprises in emerging environmental markets  - 2007
en   BEfr - Combining Creativity and Entrepreneurism: Made In Mons  - 2007
en   UKgb - Breaking the psychological barriers to self-employment - 2007
en   PT - Building entrepreneurial capacity in deprived urban communities  - 2007
en   PL - A framework for social economy growth, Tu Jest Praca, Poland  - 2007
en   BEnl - Mutual benefit from neighbourhood services - 2007
en   SE - Three-way local agreements to create an inclusive labour market - 2007
en   NL - Art for everyone as a way into work - 2007
en   FR - Sustaining micro-enterprises by innovative services - 2007
en   FI - Integration firms beat the labour shortage - 2007
en   UKgb - Sharing the Caring Model - 2007
en   IE - Helping ethnic minority entrepreneurs to emerge in Ireland - 2006
en   ES - Responding to industrial restructuring by opening up entrepreneurship to young people and women - 2006
en   UKgb - Creating employment through franchising - 2006
en   UKgb - EQUAL approaches to entrepreneurship in the UK - 2006
enen SE - Down, but definitely not out - 2005
enen DE - Breaking with tradition - 2005
enen ES - A regional partnership for inclusive entrepreneurship - 2005
enen AT - Going to work on waste - 2005
enen ES - The right type of money - 2005
enen FR - Migrating out of the informal economy - 2005
enen DE - Passport to Enterprise - 2005
en   IT - Chambers take social enterprise on board - 2005
en   DE - Fit for cooperation - 2005
en   UKgb - Helping women gain ground in business - 2005
en   UKgb - Mainstream support for minority entrepreneurs - 2005
en   ES - Building businesses in remote rural areas - 2005
en   NL - From disadvantaged to self employed - 2005
en   PT - Creating local companies with a global focus - 2005
en   EL - Using sport to build business - 2005
en   EL - Healthy food for healthy business - 2005
en   EL - Co-ops for the mentally ill - Greece breaks new legal ground - 2005
en   DE - An elderly care system fit for the future - 2005
en   BEnl - Taking the risk out of taking a risk - 2005
en   UKgb - Here to stay - social enterprise in the East Midlands of England - 2005
en   FR - Cooperating their way into new jobs - 2005
en   FI - A smashing idea - with benefits all round - 2005
en   IT - Milan - a complex solution to a complex problem - 2005
en   ES - Equalising labour markets in Southern Spain through self employment - 2005
en   DE - 3 S Qualifizierung Altenhilfe - 2004
en   UKgb - Accelerating Women's Enterprise - 2004
en   FR - Association pour le Droit à l'Initiative Economique - 2004
en   UKgb - Building on community strenghths to make business - 2004
en   UKgb - Cyfenter - 2004
en   DE - Deutsches Mikrofinanz Institut (DMI) - 2004
en   BEnl - Diane - 2004
en   SE - Empowerment for the Future (EFF) - 2004
en   DE - Exzept - 2004
en   ES - Red accent, Garapen - 2004
en   DE - Innova - 2004
en   ES - Pioneros, Junta Andalucia - 2004
en   UKgb - Business Mentoring: An Equal Partnership, Princes Trust - 2004
en   IT - Quasar - 2004
en   UKgb - Reflex - 2004
en   ES - Sant Cosme Innova - 2004
en   UKgb - Strategic Framework for Women's Enterprise - 2004
en   DE - Verbund - 2004