Increasing co-operation between social enterprises across Europe is helping to boost the visibility of the social enterprise sector and to highlight the social benefits it brings.

The RaiSE programme launched in January 2017 under the Interreg Europe policy learning programme has been designed to further this momentum by bringing together organisations from Catalonia, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, France and Hungary with a view to strengthening business activities, competitiveness, innovativeness and internationalisation in the European social enterprise sector.

Led by the Catalonia Trade & Investment Agency, project partners include Westbic (the Border, Midlands and Western region of Ireland), ERVET (the Emilia Romagna Economic Deveopment Agency, Italy), the Orebro County region of Sweden, Paris Region Enterprises (France), IFKA (the Public Benefit Non-Profit for the Development of Industry, Hungary) and, as advisory partner, the Centre for Social Innovation in Austria.

The programme will involve information sharing, study visits, mapping and analysis of the social enterprise ecosystem and workshops on the key themes of (i) skills enhancement for market access, (ii) access to public procurement markets and (iii) new business models and strategies for social enterprises growth.

Outcomes will play a key role in:

  • informing and improving public support policies for social enterprises
  • tailoring and improving business advisory services and business support policies to meet the specific needs of social enterprises
  • strengthening the independence of social economy organisations
  • optimising governance and co-ordination between government departments and agencies, development organisations and social economy organisations

This project represents a move beyond shoehorning social enterprises into existing structures where they don’t properly fit and labelling social enterprise as an ‘alternative’ business model. It will help show that specific services and recognition are required for the sector to prosper. It will help crystallise what’s already in place and help provide a stronger foundation on which future successes can be built. Finally, it will emphasise how important the sector is both in terms of the significant social and commercial benefit and why it should be promoted and supported.