What is the Social Economy? #
The social economy refers to a range of economic activities and enterprises that prioritize social and environmental goals alongside financial returns. In the context of Europe, the social economy encompasses a diverse range of organizations, including cooperatives, mutuals, associations, foundations, and social enterprises. These organizations operate in a variety of sectors, including agriculture, healthcare, housing, education, and finance, and they often serve as a vital source of employment and support for disadvantaged communities. The social economy in Europe is widely recognized as a key driver of social innovation, contributing to sustainable and inclusive economic growth, and helping to address some of the most pressing social and environmental challenges faced by the region. The European Union has developed a comprehensive framework to support the growth of the social economy, which includes funding programs, policy initiatives, and networking opportunities. The EU recognizes the important role that the social economy plays in promoting economic, social, and territorial cohesion and has made it a priority to enhance the visibility, recognition, and competitiveness of social economy organizations across the region. In summary, the social economy in Europe is a vibrant and growing sector, which plays an important role in promoting social and environmental goals and contributing to a more sustainable and equitable future.
Social Economy Mission on Social Economy #
A Social Economy Mission workshop in the context of the European COSME projects is an event aimed at bringing together stakeholders from the social economy sector to discuss and develop solutions to challenges faced by this sector. These workshops provide a platform for exchange of ideas and best practices, networking, and the identification of opportunities for collaboration. They are designed to promote the competitiveness and sustainability of social economy enterprises and contribute to the development of the social economy in Europe. The workshops may include presentations, group discussions, and interactive sessions, and typically bring together representatives from cooperatives, mutuals, non-profit organizations, and relevant public authorities.
On June 27th and 28th 2023 a Social Economy Mission (hereinafter referred to as Social SEM) was organised in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, in the context of the COSME project eLabHauSE.rur.
The Social SEM was attended by the project partners and their delegations formed by social economy stakeholders, for a total of 29 attendees.
Social economy stakeholders were selected by the consortium partners in each territory based on their experience in the Social Economy sector and on the degree of innovation of their businesses and projects.
The methodology used for the Social SEM entailed the organisation of three different activities with the aim of identifying, sharing, analysing best practice, co-designing innovative solutions and reflecting on possible practical applications within the context of the New European Bauhaus:
Activity 1 – “Social Hackathon”. The term Hackathon combines the concepts ‘marathon’ and ‘hacker’, alluding to a collective experience that seeks to achieve a common goal collaboratively in a short period of time. Programme: Phase 1 – Presentation and discussion of the good practices detected on a social level. Phase 2 – Two challenges are proposed to participants, one to create and/or identify entrepreneurship opportunities based on social needs and, the other to provide solutions to social problems in rural areas. Phase 3: the participants are distributed into groups. Phase 4: work in groups. Phase 5: The results and conclusions are jointly shared.
Activity 2 – A collective workshop where participants, led by an expert, expressed their vision on how the rural territories could integrate the principles of the New European Bauhaus through art using recycled materials. This activity allowed partners to rethink the territory more inclusively.
Activity 3 – Visits to examples of good practices detected in Galicia, the region of the Social SEM host partner.
During the Social Economy Mission, 8 Social Economy best practices from Italy, Ireland, Croatia, and Spain were presented, and a thorough analysis of their strengths and weaknesses.
With the “Social Hackathon”, partners faced the challenge of generating innovative ideas based on the New European Bauhaus, for the rural environment in transformation, and succeeded. The ideas generated by the groups were interesting, diverse and innovative.
Regarding the Collective Workshop, this exercise helped participants to reflect, create and develop new ideas related to the New European Bauhaus and rural people, to rethink the territory and dream about how it could be changed.