Centre of Expertise for Social Enterprises starts operations
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment has allocated EUR 3 million in discretionary government grants to a new Centre of Expertise for Social Enterprises in accordance with the Government policy outlined in its mid-term policy review. Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen signed the funding decision.
The centre’s operations will begin immediately and continue until the end of 2023 with funding from the discretionary government grants. The European Social Fund will also participate in project funding.
The centre of expertise provides guidance and advice to Finnish entrepreneurs and organisations that are involved in or starting up social business, regardless of the type of company or sector. At the same time, it creates network-based expert services to strengthen the operating conditions for social business and to increase the employment of people with partial work ability.
The discretionary government grant was awarded to a network-based consortium of six organisations, coordinated by the Finnish Association of Social Enterprises Arvo. The other participants are Diaconia University of Applied Sciences, Rehabilitation Foundation, Pellervo Coop Centre, Silta-Valmennusyhdistys and Vates Foundation.
The consortium’s members complement each other with their skills so that their areas of expertise cover the whole spectrum of Finnish social business activities and entrepreneurship. These areas include social innovations, social impact, business, sustainable development and employment of people with partial work ability.
Centre makes use of skills from different fields
Due to its network-like activities, the centre of expertise is able to use the knowhow and skills of experts from various fields and provide expert assistance to those who need it. In addition to companies and those interested in social entrepreneurship, these include educational and research institutions, ELY Centres and other organisations providing public business services.
Alongside advisory and guidance services and expert assistance, the centre promotes the introduction of impact-based business models, social innovations, research, data collection and education on various themes. Its core tasks also include business incubation and accelerator activities.
The centre also supports companies in developing cooperation with stakeholders, finding new partnerships, organising administration and employing people with partial work ability.
Demand for new kind of business
A social enterprise is founded on the desire to solve a certain social problem and to create common good. While profitable, social enterprises do not primarily aim to make a profit for their owners. Instead, the companies will direct the majority of their operating profits towards the social objective they have chosen. This objective has been confirmed in the articles of association or rules of the corporation. A social enterprise can operate in any form: association, foundation, limited liability company or cooperative.
According to a report commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment last year, there are approximately 1,700 social enterprises in Finland that employ more than 50,000 people. The combined turnover of social enterprises is nearly EUR 5.8 billion. The majority of social enterprises operate in the health and social services sector, welfare services, circular economy and the environmental sector.
There is demand for social entrepreneurship and new business models in sectors beyond health and social services and the environment. This is caused by new and diverse forms of entrepreneurship, such as the growing number of self-employed people.
Social business is one of the policies in Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Government Programme aimed at creating a labour market based on trust and equality and raising the employment rate.
The establishment of the centre of expertise is based on the strategy for social enterprises, which the Government adopted in its mid-term policy review in spring 2021. It aims to increase the number of and awareness on new social enterprises and develop their competences, especially in order to improve the effectiveness of their activities. One of the key objectives of the strategy is to employ people with partial work capacity and those who are otherwise in a difficult labour market position.
The centre of expertise is part of the Government’s work ability programme and its employment measures package. The work ability programme promotes the employment of people with partial work capacity and their wellbeing at work.
Tuija Oivo, Director General, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 049 040, [email protected]