Social Entrepreneurship Has Big Potential in Czech Republic
Social enterprise and social entrepreneurship are part of the new urban economy. Outputs from existing cooperation efforts show social enterprises holding leading positions in all SEiSMiC countries. The main goals are to develop local economies, increase employment, and explore new ways to advance social inclusion.
Interest in social entrepreneurship is based on the idea that public services and goods alone do not or cannot provide the foundations of a just society. Contributions from socially conscious civic and private initiatives are also needed. Social enterprises are organisational forms that combine market incentives, values and practices with the social objectives of non-profit initiatives. Their position on the border between the world of business and the civil sector leads to social enterprise-type benefits.
Social businesses provide towns and villages with a particular range of products and services. The biggest issue in such an enterprise is raising professional and general public awareness about what the terms ”social economy”, “solidarity economy”, “social enterprise” and ”social business” really mean. Although activities along these lines get financial support from European funds, public awareness of such concepts remains very low. Following on from the SEiSMiC project, we hope that future workshops will help to raise awareness levels.
One thing that the European Union can do to move these concepts forward is to harmonise its definition of, and approaches to, social enterprise in both its institutions and its official documents. The international research network EMES (Emergence of Social Enterprises in Europe) is involved in plenty of activities to this end, including via its support for the current (2013 to 2017) International Comparative Social Enterprise Models (ICSEM) project, which is being implemented by the Interuniversity Attraction Pole (IAP) on Social Enterprise (SOCENT) with the participation of more than 50 countries worldwide.
Marie Dohnalova and Katerina Legnerova from Charles University in Prague (Department of Civil Society Studies of the Faculty of Humanities) are involved in the project. SEiSMic NaNet meetings regularly initiate debates about the fact that social enterprises in the Czech Republic are created at the voluntary initiative of citizens — that is, by taking a bottom-up approach.
Working papers from the ICSEM project are available here.