RAISE – Business support policies for stronger social enterprises

The RAISE project brings together six partners from regions in Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK, and an advisory partner from Austria, to enhance the competitiveness of social enterprises. Each partner then develops a plan for improving business support policies for social enterprises and presents it to their respective regional administration.

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Immagine ufficiale del progetto RaiSE ©ACCIÓ Immagine ufficiale del progetto RaiSE ©ACCIÓ

" For social enterprises, the journey to competitiveness is as difficult as climbing a mountain. Thanks to the RAISE project and interregional cooperation, we are helping social enterprises be more competitive in the global market. Partner regions and stakeholders are learning from each other and exchanging best practices, with the final aim of changing people’s lives for the better. "

Paula Santarén, RAISE project manager

The first stage of RAISE entailed organising six project meetings, study visits to social enterprises, three thematic workshops and regional stakeholder group meetings. These activities led to an interregional analysis and six regional study reports which map social enterprises in each region and identify growth barriers and needs.

Good practice guides of the best regional examples were compiled to feed into the elaboration of the action plans. The implementation of these is to be monitored in a second stage.

A vital component of the EU economy

The primary aim of social enterprises is to achieve social impact rather than generate profit. The money they make is used, in as far as possible, to achieve social goals. They have been recognised as drivers of social change with strong potential to generate inclusive growth and create more, better jobs.

These enterprises account for some 10 % of the EU economy and employ more than 11 million people, or 4.5 % of the economically active population. One out of every four new businesses established in the EU each year is a social enterprise.

However, combining the social and entrepreneurial aspects makes it hard for such businesses to compete with conventional companies. And while some European governments have boosted business support policies for social enterprises, these policies remain rare and often do not meet real needs. Many social enterprises feel that more support from public authorities is necessary.

A cooperative learning process

Cooperation and sharing knowledge and expertise during RAISE project meetings and study visits have enabled the partners to learn from each other, including good practices already being implemented in different regions. Interregional thematic workshops supported this process. They covered topics like skills enhancement for market access, access to public procurement markets, and internationalisation. Regional stakeholder meetings got other actors involved.

Regional study reports were drawn up for Central Hungary, the Border, Midlands and West regions of Ireland, Emilia-Romagna in Italy, Catalonia in Spain, East-Central Sweden and South Western Scotland. An advisory partner did the interregional analysis.

Details of good practices are published on the RAISE website. Examples include: Clann Credo, an Irish provider of loans to community organisations that generate social returns; the Aracoop Internacional consultancy service run by the Catalan Agency for Business Competitiveness to help social enterprises internationalise; and the Caravan of Ideas, a mobile consulting hub that travels around Sweden to help communities find new solutions to societal challenges in rural areas.

Total investment and EU funding 

Total investment for the project “RAISE: enhancing social enterprises competitiveness through improved business support policies” is EUR 1 493 565, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 1 253 122 through the “Interreg Europe” Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “SMEs competitiveness”.

Draft date

10/04/2019