Brussels, 8. July 2015, in the European Economic and Social Commiittee
Presentation by Baudoin Baudru, Member of the Cabinet of Commissioner Thyssen
The notion "social enterprise" refers to a specific type of businesses: those whose main objective is to produce social and societal impact while working in an entrepreneurial manner in the market. They do business but in a different way, putting societal benefits over the economic gains.
Social Business Initiative
In 2011 the Commission adopted a Social Business Initiative (SBI). It was a comprehensive roadmap to support the development of enabling environment for social enterprises. It included three key dimensions (with some examples of actions):
1) Improving access to finance
- EaSI programme includes a scheme to support social enterprise financing with at least EUR 86 million.
- Social entrepreneurship as an investment priority under ESF. Some EUR 1,3 billion will be invested.
2) Visibility and recognition:
- The Commission has published a “Mapping” study describing the eco-systems of social enterprises in 28 EU Member States and Switzerland.
- Commission cooperates with the OECD to advice countries to develop favourable environment for the social enterprise sector
3) Improve legal environment
- The new public procurement rules include increased and simplified opportunities to use social and/or environmental criteria. EMPL contributed actively to this.
Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) Programme
The Commission supports strongly the social enterprises' access to finance and the development of social investment markets.
Under the EU programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) at least EUR 86 million will be used for this purpose until 2020. The European Commission will not finance social enterprises directly, but it will enable selected social enterprise investors in the EU to increase lending.
As part of this, the Delegating act concerning the implementation of a new guarantee scheme has been signed by the EC and the European Investment Fund at the beginning of this week. The guarantee scheme will be launched this week and will be implemented through the European Investment Fund. Thanks to the guarantee scheme, social enterprises can receive investments or loans of up to EUR 500,000.
European Parliament Preparatory Action - Pilot projects
A Preparatory action on "social innovation driven by social business and young entrepreneurship" is implemented by the Commission through the call for proposals "Supporting the demand and supply side of the market for social enterprise finance" launched at the end of 2013.
This action is managed by DG EMPL and it supports 21 pilot projects from 13 countries developing the social finance markets. It prepares the ground so that societies can better benefit from the EaSI programme. It has turned out to be a very important learning experience for the projects involved and the Commission services are currently examining the suitable follow-up measures.
Social Innovation Portugal (Portugal Inovação Social) is a new fund established by the government. It will use €150 million ESF funds and has a mandate to promote the development social investment markets in Portugal.
A Portuguese "Social Investment Taskforce" played a key role in the design of the new fund. It benefitted from EU funding, as part of EP preparatory actions, managed by DG EMPL.
A Belgian project launched OksigenCrowd in May 2015. This is the first crowd-funding platform for social enterprises. Five crowdfunding campaigns have been launched so far.
The Commission has taken concrete measures to improve the visibility and recognition of social entrepreneurship.
The recently published Mapping study on social enterprises landscape in Europe provides first time a picture of the social enterprise sector in Europe. It uses an operational definition of social enterprises, in line with the definition included in the EaSI Regulation. Therefore, all legal forms that comply with the operational definition are represented in the study.