Results from the SENSES landscape screening

17. Apr 2018

SENSES identified good and transferable policy making practices and needs of social entrepreneurs in the Danube region

In 2017 the first step of the acceleration programme of SENSES was taken. Screening the social entrepreneurial landscape in the Danube region, good and transferable policy making practices, their impact as well as possible constraints were identified. The Synthesis report on Policy Niches and Benchmarking in the Danube region covers the analysis of policy gaps and possibilities for improvement in national contexts and takes a comparative perspective, benchmarking the social enterprise landscapes of the single partner countries against each other. Case studies allowed illustrating the diversity of the social enterprise landscape in the Danube region. They provide the possibility for international knowledge exchange and serve as inspiration for social enterprise businesses. Social enterprises selected as best practices set an example on how to design sustainable business models. Additionally social entrepreneurs were asked about their skills, competences and needs. Overall, the questionnaire was filled in by 349 social enterprises in the Danube region.

Summarising the results of the major tasks, the following policy gaps and intervention areas have been identified:

Intervention Area 1: Formulation of national SE strategies

A stronger engagement and involvement of the (national) policy level in the formulation of legal frameworks, national strategies and definitions is needed. These policies should build on the expertise of social enterprises. Hence social enterprises should be involved in the formulation of political strategies.

Intervention Area 2: Legal frameworks fostering the formation of a SE- lobby

Referring to the first intervention area, focusing on the involvement of social enterprises in the formulation of a SE-strategy, the formation of a lobby, involving not only enabling institutions, but also social entrepreneurs themselves, is recommended. As social enterprises are most likely to join cooperation with other social enterprises, a legal framework fostering cooperative structures could also serve this aim.

Intervention Area 3: Give SE tailored evaluation tools in hand

The development and use of impact measurements tools, feedback tools for employees of social enterprises, environmental sustainability evaluation tools and certification schemes as well as the development of registries and research on social enterprises have to be supported stronger for a better recognition of the sector and its needs. To foster evaluation tools and to prove social enterprises how they can profit from them, SE need to be trained how to use them. Mentoring programmes for social enterprises, involving researchers able to apply and adapt different evaluation tools for social enterprises, could serve this aim.

Intervention Area 4: Development of marketing plans to access bigger markets

Market access of social enterprises is mostly limited to local and regional markets. To enter national and international markets their products and services have to be made more competitive. Social enterprises that apply marketing plans tend to be more present on more complex (national and international) markets. The development of marketing plans can serve their ambitions to enter new markets.

Intervention Area 5: Access to tailored financial instruments

The access to tailored financial instruments is the kind of support social enterprises would need strongest. At the moment public funds are applied by more than half of the social enterprises surveyed, and 45% would like to apply public funds in the future. This makes public funds the most important financial resource for social enterprises. Moreover social enterprises are interested in crowdfunding and social banking.

Intervention Area 6: Further trainings empowering social enterprises in their special competences

Trainings empowering social enterprises in their special competences, needed to develop social innovations and demonstrating their social impact, are fitting their needs best. These trainings need to include marketing skills and financial skills, which are least available in social enterprises.

The findings of the landscape screening and intervention areas detected will be guiding for the development of trainings, the empowerment of social enterprises and the development of a policy strategy for the Danube region.

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Tags: benchmarking, Danube Region, social entrepreneurship

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