How can social entrepreneurship be more inclusive?

On July 6th, Espacio Geranios organized a local focus group as part of the SESI Project: Social Entrepreneurship as an Inclusion Enabler.

During this session, the goal was to gather a group of experts and youth workers to discuss challenges and opportunities, as well as best practices in four priority areas related to inclusive social entrepreneurship, especially as it related to rural youth and youth at risk of exclusion.

To frame our discussion, Rachida Justo, Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at IE University and expert on social economy and social enterprises, offered a short overview of the concept and legal framework in Europe and Spain.

 The main ideas of her presentation, which led to subsequent debate, were:

  • Social entrepreneurship tends to be defined in terms of its difference from traditional business and philanthropic organizations. In this sense, Social Entrepreneurship is understood as a hybrid, taking the profit and management logic of traditional companies, but responding to a social objective (such as non-profit/philanthropic entities).

  • However, if this vision is broadened, it is possible to include innovative NGOs in the definition of social enterprise, either because they apply corporate management and marketing methodologies to attract and retain donors, or because they have a model that allows them to generate financial income to respond to social challenges.

  • Another nuance is when considering for-profit companies that take CSR and ESG criteria to the highest level of strategy.

  • A key element in social entrepreneurship is that it must have an innovative approach, which empowers those it accompanies. Other criteria of social entrepreneurship are that the solutions should be scalable, sustainable, and replicable.

Regarding the regulation of Social Enterprise, there is no clear legal framework, and not many countries have it. It is complex considering the broad spectrum of what is assumed to be social entrepreneurship.

There is a perspective that is more related to the individual vision of the entrepreneur as a “changemaker”; and another more collective vision that sees SE from a more participatory logic.

Social entrepreneurship has not yet been legally recognized in Spain. Consequently, social enterprises operate in different legal forms.

Following the presentation, we carried out a SWOT analysis together of the main elements that contribute to empowering inclusive social entrepreneurship and we closed with a debate on four main challenges:

1.       How might we contribute to making social enterprises more inclusive with a special focus on rural youth.

2.       How might we develop education programs on social entrepreneurship that are effective and inclusive.

3.       How might we ensure effective partnerships among cross-sectorial stakeholders to nurture the ecosystem.

4.       How to engage new technologies into the innovation of the social entrepreneurship ecosystem.

There are many takeaways from this experience, but perhaps the most important is the power of collectivity. Some of the most successful cases in vulnerable communities are due to collective processes. Those who engage in entrepreneurship as a group tend to be more resilient.

The outcomes of our fruitful discussion will be gathered in a future best practices document and will also be integrated into trainings and international forums which will take place throughout this project.

A big thank you to all the participants who joined us, especially: NESI Forum, Acción Contra el Hambre, Red Mimbre, Jump the Line, Fiare Banca Ética, Basotec, U4Impact, Somos Talita, Fundación Lázaro, Futbol Más, Fundación Prodiversa, Centro de Desarrollo Comunitario de Tetuán, Rachida from IE University and Ándres from Universidad Complutense Madrid.

 “Social Entrepreneurship as enabler of social inclusion” (SESI) is part of the the Erasmus + Key Action 2 program, which we are implementing together in partnership with the organizations YouthProActiv from Belgium, AIDE from Romania and Fundacja reGeneacja from Poland.

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