The report and methodology produced by the British Council has helped us to establish a different relationship with the social and solidarity economy ecosystem. Now… [we have] both qualitative and quantitative insights.
Antonis Vorloou, Special Secretary on Social and Solidarity Economy, Greek Ministry of Labour
To assist the Greek Ministry of Labour in developing a strategy and support structures for the country’s Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) and to bring the UK sector expertise to both the design and execution of the project.
Social economy is a European Union priority for the benefits it can bring during times of crisis, both to economy and society. A special secretariat was recently appointed in Greece to develop a social economy strategy to support the local sector, less developed than in the rest of Europe. The UK is recognised as a leader in social economy and we aimed to transfer this expertise by helping to address the lack of insight, capacity and expertise. These are needed to establish frameworks, legislation and funds to support social economy, education and skills.
The project started with a comprehensive mapping and needs analysis report, delivered by Social Enterprise UK, which acts as the UK’s leading campaign body for social enterprise. This provided policy makers with the necessary information to implement the National Strategy on Social Economy and design mechanisms appropriate to the Greek context. We established a network of more than 500 social entrepreneurs, stakeholders and policy makers, including two policy dialogues and three round table discussions, helping to build a culture of trust and cooperation. We also assisted the Greek government with policy creation, developing supporting structures and tools in finance, education and training, social impact measurement methodologies and harmonisation of legal frameworks in the social economy sector.
The project contributed to the development of the Social and Solidarity Economy sector in Greece. External evaluation found that Greek policy makers became better equipped to implement the national strategy on SSE efficiently and stakeholders able to better understand the scope of SSE and support its development. We learnt that increasing awareness and dissemination of technical material were the best ways to encourage further growth. The project also made important recommendations to the Greek government in the harmonisation of social economy legislation and good practices for social economy education. Stakeholders reported they were ‘already making an effort to develop a new reality for social and solidarity economy policies based on these recommendations’. They also stated that the ‘sector has grown’ and that the project contributed to the development of a culture for social economy.
Part of the project involved organising education workshops for public authorities to equip them for working with social economy organisations. 92 per cent of participants of these felt they had increased their understanding of the topic and 88 per cent were likely to apply the learnings in their everyday work within the next year.
The project created beneficial partnerships and institutional links between Greece, the UK and the rest of Europe. These include relationships with government officials, academics, businesses and other influencers. It made a positive contribution to the local and international agenda for growth and development, improved skills and employability for young entrepreneurs and embedded an evidence-based policy for social economy. Through this programme we are building a strong reference in social economy that could be hugely beneficial for future work in Greece and/or other countries. By placing UK sector expertise at the heart of the development of this sector in Greece, we encourage a favourable environment for UK collaboration and investment in the sector in the long term.