The EFESEIIS (Enabling the Flourishing and Evolution of Social Entrepreneurship for Innovative and Inclusive Societies) project is one of the last projects funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration (FP7). Geographically, the project covers ten countries: Albania, Austria, UK (England and Scotland), France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Serbia and Sweden.
The project started in December 2013 and finished in November 2016. The key findings in relation to the overarching question of what determines an enabling eco-system for social enterprise (SE) are listed below:
- The relationship between SE and public institutions is fundamental in the development of a supportive ecosystem – particularly recognition of the role SEs have in a mixed economy, and enabling policies that are effectively and uniformly implemented within the administrative areas. Local authorities have a preeminent role in the configuration of the social enterprise ecosystem primarily because they provide opportunities for social entrepreneurship in conjunction with social services, or delivering health and welfare services. However, many local authorities are undergoing budget cuts which seriously challenge their capacity to sustain social entrepreneurship through procurement and funding SE networking activities.
- It also appears helpful to reduce the bureaucracy associated with delivering public authority services and improving procurement policies to recognise the value of including social and environmental outcomes. This would benefit both SEs and society and prove cost effective in the long term.
- Among the interventions that support an enabling ecosystem for social enterprise is improving tax benefits or providing preferential tax rates for activities or donations related to social entrepreneurship.
- The relationship between SEs and financial institutions is important to the development of a favourable ecosystem. Social investors could enable SEs to develop by increasing access to funding and providing financial advice.
- SEs should be supported to invest in measuring their impact more effectively. There are a variety of strategies that organisations can employ to evidence impact, and while many lament the complexities and difficulties of measuring social impact, it is widely recognised that recording and disseminating impact information is beneficial in marketing the activities and achievements of SEs.
- SEs’ capacity to network and speak with a single voice is another feature of an enabling environment, because it strengthens the sector’s engagement and impact with stakeholders, citizens and the media.
The Scottish Team
Prof. Simone Baglioni, Dr Micaela Mazzei, Dr Michael Roy and Dr Stephen Sinclair
 The consortium includes PIN Soc. Cons. A.R.L. University of Florence; Westfaelische Wilhelms University of Muenster, Germany; Syddansk University of Southern Denmark; Stichting Dienswt Landbouwkundig Onderzoek Alterra, Netherlands; Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland; Fondacija Za Razvoj Ekonomske Nauke Fren, Serbia; University of Northmapton, England; University of Warsaw, Poland; Impact Hub Austria; Science Po France; Nxitja e Biznesit Social, Albania.