EFESEIIS (pronounced: ‘ef-e-sees’) is the acronym for the project ‘Enabling the Flourishing and Evolution of Social Entrepreneurship for Innovative and Inclusive Societies’.
The research is a joint project between a number of different partners and institutes across Europe. It is highly collaborative; the GCU research team are one of a number of partners across 10 European countries working on this research. Countries that make up this partnership, alongside the UK, include Albania, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Serbia and Sweden.
The overall aim of this project is to better understand the conditions under which social entrepreneurship comes about, flourishes and becomes an effective vehicle for tackling societal problems in a sustainable way. Put simply, the team are trying to draw out the factors that help or hinder social entrepreneurship.
Researchers at GCU focused on the national environment across Scotland for social entrepreneurship and examined factors that impacted on the individual and community level all the way up to national policies, legal frameworks and international guidelines. Michael Roy, one of the lead researchers on this project at GCU clarifies:
“We are asking questions such as ‘What does a flourishing environment for social entrepreneurs look like?’ and ‘Is this context or country specific?’”
The research was conceptualised in 2013 and work began in early 2014. With the project approaching the end of its first year, we went on to discuss what the key objectives are for this trans-European research and how close the team were to meeting them.
The initial objective involved undertaking a historical review of the social enterprise and social entrepreneurship sector across Scotland post-1945. Rachael MacLeod, a PhD student involved in the project gives us a brief overview of what this stage involved: “Initially the work we were focused on involved looking at the development of social enterprises in Scotland since the Second World War; tying the role of communities, the state, local cultures and traditions and the impact of the changing socio-political environment into this review.”
Moving forward, what is next on the calendar for EFESEIIS?
This historical overview is nearing completion and with it the team are moving on to the next stage in their research – a critical examination of the contemporary Scottish social enterprise sector.
Michael highlights that the next stage of the project will involve the team running workshops and interviews with relevant actors and stakeholders across Scotland in the next few months and encourages anyone involved in this sector to become involved in this research. The eventual outcome of these historical and contemporary evaluations will form the basis of what he describes as: “a national report on social entrepreneurship in Scotland.”
This review process is being conducted concurrently across the 10 European partner countries and gradually these discrete projects will be drawn together to enable the cross-country convergences and divergences in social entrepreneurship to be examined. Ultimately, it is hoped that this project will enable a better understanding of the different forms of social entrepreneurship; especially those individuals, organisations and groups that have arisen as a response to the changing global economic environment over the past few years.
Rachael encapsulates this by concluding that: “the aim, at the end of the day, is to share this information with relevant stakeholders – from policy makers to individuals working at the grassroots level – to further the development of successful and sustainable social entrepreneurship across the EU”.
Many thanks to Michael and Rachael for their time and we look forward to hearing more about the project as it goes forward.
More information regarding the EFESEIIS project can be found through the GCU Yunus Centre website: http://www.gcu.ac.uk/yunuscentre/research/efeseiis/ or by visiting the EFESEIIS website and Facebook page