In the present period of severe economic crisis and economic recession, social entrepreneurship is one of the main issues at a European and national public policy level. The European Commission stresses that there are cultural factors which discourage too many people from starting a business and therefore, there is a need to develop a strong entrepreneurial culture among EU citizens in general. Social economy within the field of social entrepreneurship comes not only to fight exclusion and unemployment (which has reached a pick of 11%), but additionally to address inexorable social problems which are directly interwoven with global poverty, adverse climate changes and other environmental problems, misuse of energy and power, inadequate health services, obsolete or negligible education etc.
‘Society Profits’ project, which constitutes the distillate of the collaboration between three NGOs, the Cypriot CIP, the Greek Institute of Entrepreneurship Development and the Portuguese Madan Parque, in line with the Europe 2020 strategy, is seeking to address in various ways all the seven policy flagships of EU under the emphasis of growth, through which the European Commission aspires to create ICT- based products that will generate growth, and skill-building and at the same time address global challenges.
Accordingly, ‘Society Profits’ project primarily aims at the education of the next generation of entrepreneurs by influential multipliers such as youth organizations, equipped and trained through the project’s on-line platform and on-line training course. Specifically, the first and the second output of the project consists of an on-line training course, focusing on the ways in which social entrepreneurs draw upon business techniques and private sector approaches in order to resolve social, cultural and environmental problems such as to end poverty, to improve the standard of living, to support vulnerable population etc. The on-line training course provides different definitions of social entrepreneurship, contemporary business structures falling under different applicable models and open source technological innovation.
These targets are being achieved by the integration of a range of specially-designed, ICT tools and educational material, including quizzes, which will be designed in such a way to facilitate interactivity within an alternative way of modern learning, various free accounting soft wares like ‘Wave’ which will enable educators to communicate with young people who are seeking to run a social business, narrative e-videos related to successful examples of local social entrepreneurs regarding the procedure they came up with a social business idea as well as info-packs correlated with on-going online applications, online environments and data on local and global fund opportunities deriving from various sectors, from governments to private investors. In general, the on-line training course will guide the users, through personalized e-activities, to create their unique path, which starts from an innovative idea and ends up with an integrated business plan, by simultaneously emphasizing on possible risks (financial, legal etc) that the social enterprise might encounter.
On the other hand, a handy e-platform (O3) is seeking to give practical information to the user on how to be a part of a strong, well-established European network related to social entrepreneurship. Thereby, e-platform is enriched with a ‘Directory of social enterprises’ in the EU, which is basically a list with the ‘most impactful social enterprises operating in EU, in terms of the number of beneficiaries and the uniqueness of each social enterprise’, with which the partnership will communicate in order to establish a collaboration with young people both for internship purposes, source sharing or any other kind of collaboration. Also, the e-platform provides an on-line space that collects educational non-formal tools related to social entrepreneurship, an on-line forum where newcomers can raise questions in order to be answered by well-experienced educators and lastly, a space for Validation of the educational material provided, given by relevant stakeholders and well-reputed social entrepreneurs.
Partners are committed to achieve stakeholder and institutional buy-in. Through the networks to be established, the participatory action research approach adopted and institutional stakeholder events planned, partners intend to create a sense of ownership among the widest cross-section of stakeholders during the project life-cycle and promote widespread use of the platform. The groups of stakeholders (Youth Organizations, Higher Education Institutions, Research and Development Centers, Public Institutions and Social Services, Local Community Groups and Authorities, CSO’s, Professional Networks, Policy Makers) that will be involved in each country, will demonstrate the new on-line environments, thus encouraging their continued support.