Research in Social Enterprise, its social impact and its financial needs

Research Area: Measurement and Impact
Scientific coordinator: Carlo Borzaga

Project status: on-going

In order to fully harness the contribution of social enterprises (SEs) to societal wellbeing, inclusion and smart economic growth, their rationale and roles need to be better understood and subsequently translated into effective policies that are able to exploit their competitive advantages vis-à-vis public and for-profit enterprises.

The RiSE GRIT research project is built on the rich Italian experience and evolves in three different dimensions: a conceptual dimension, which focuses on approaching SEs as a “system” integrated into a socioeconomic context; a horizontal, explicit focus on SEs’ access to finance and social impact assessment as key areas for their support and further development; and a spatial/geographical dimension that focuses on areas that, although in need, have not yet developed a sufficient number of initiatives (e.g., rural vs. urban settings and/or Greece and other areas in crisis).

Objectives

During the exchange period that Yiorgos Alexopoulos will spend in Trento at Euricse, the activity of the project will focus on four main objectives:

  • becoming familiar with the main theoretical analyses aimed at explaining the economic rationale of SEs;
  • investigating the financial and funding needs of SEs during their life-cycle development;
  • focusing on the role of “reporting” in measuring social impact: the challenges of providing a uniform methodological approach for all SEs and all spatial settings, and what are the necessary capacity-building policies that should be introduced in order to render the application of such a methodology successful;
  • steering a comparative analysis between Greece, Italy and other selected European member states, focusing explicitly on identifying and increasing the potential of SE development in Greece, in order to provide new research funding that could lead to policy recommendations specifically focusing on SEs.

Main results

To this direction, Yiorgos Alexopoulos participated in most major events on social enterprises organized in Italy and Greece (e.g. under the Greek and Italian Presidency of the EU Council, as well as by national associations and networks -e.g. IRIS Network).

Social finance as a concrete dimension of the project was studied theoretically and empirically by participating actively in relevant EU research networks and pilot projects, as well by the administration of a survey to investigate financial and funding needs of Greek social enterprises (demand side).

Along the same lines, he has also worked to develop a pilot project, which has set to introduce in the Greek social finance community an alternative mechanism for the support of social economy and social entrepreneurship (supply and intermediary side).

Finally, he has tried to explore possibilities to benefit from the European academic and research culture and introduce teaching modules that focus on SE&SEs within Greek Universities’ curricula, develop joint research projects and motivate Greek young researches to focus on the research of SE &SEs in Greece and link them to their European peers.

European program:  Marie Sklodowska Curie Action –  Intra-European fellowships for Career Development – IEF

Project duration:  June 2014-June 2016

Coordinator: Euricse

Partners: Euricse, Yiorgos Alexopoulos, Research fellow, Agricultural University of Athens, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Athens, Greece.