EU should follow through on Social Business Initiative actions

E3M conference tasks the European Commission with making further progress on supporting social business.

Last month the E3M inaugural European conference “Growing Successful Social Enterprise” took place in Kettering UK, bringing together 250 people from 14 different countries.  It came up with a number of recommendations to take forward the Social Enterprise agenda. While the focus of the Social Business Initiative was seen as being on the right track, it was argues that the Commission should urgently push through some of the outstanding actions. The most pressing of these is the proposed capacity building for member states managing authorities and stakeholders in the use of the Structural Funds support the growth of social enterprise and the social economy.

Other suggestions included funding further research on social enterprise and social innovation, giving financial support to help develop cross-border collaboration amongst social enterprises and to invest in international knowledge transfer about different aspects of social business practice to foster joint learning. The latter, could also be extended to include working with financial intermediaries.

There was also discussion of the forthcoming changes to procurement rules with a call for simplicity and for the Commission to provide further guidance and training on good practice.

The conference provided a platform for knowledge sharing and exchange of practice on innovative social investment products,  impact measurement and different business models that can support social enterprise growth.

Participants welcomed the strong presence from the European Commission with seven senior officials taking part from different directorates. There was an active commitment from those taking part to work with the Commission in preparation for the major social enterprise event planned to stake place in Strasbourg in January 2014, with a view to shaping the long-term agenda for social business.

The report from the conference can be downloaded  here  E3M Conference Report 2013