Article on Social entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship is a form of entrepreneurship which aims to achieve a social goal. This is achieved through the creation of social value for tackling social problems. The term “social entrepreneurship” was first used by Banks in 1972 when he argued that social problems could be solved using practices used in the of business management. However, it took two decades for social entrepreneurship to attract the attention of governments and researchers.

The goals of social entrepreneurship are realized through the creation of a “social enterprise”. Social enterprises exist in all European countries. Some of them offer basic care services, others focus on providing job opportunities for socially vulnerable groups, and others achieve the goals of sustainable development.

When the European Commission launched the Social Business Initiative in 2011, one of the priorities was to increase the visibility and recognition of social enterprise as a business model. In 2015, the European Commission published a comparative study in the European Union that included 29 national reports and showed that many countries had introduced new legislation and strategies, while others were in the process of doing so.

The legislation that established the framework of social entrepreneurship in Greece is Law 4019/2011-Government Gazette 216 / Α / 30-9-2011. The Official Gazette includes definitions of the terms “Social Economy”, “Collective Purpose”, “Integration”, “Vulnerable Population Groups”, “Special Population Groups” and “Social Care”. Specifically:

1. “Social Economy” is the set of economic, business, production and social activities undertaken by collectives or associations, the statutory purpose of which is the pursuit of collective benefit and social interests.

2. “Collective Purpose” is the promotion of collective actions and the protection of collective goods through development, economic and social initiatives of local, regional or wider character. Such actions include in particular cultural, environmental, ecological activities, the utilization and promotion of local products and the provision of social services.

3. “Integration” is the process of social integration of people belonging to vulnerable groups of the population, mainly through employment.

4. “Vulnerable Population Groups”, in general, are the social groups of the population, whose participation in social and economic life is limited, due to social and economic barriers, physical or mental disability, or unforeseen events which affect the local or wider economy.

For the purposes of this legislation, Vulnerable Population Groups are divided into two categories:

a) “Vulnerable Population Groups” include those groups of the population whose integration into social and economic life is hindered by physical and mental causes or due to delinquent behavior. These include people with disabilities (physical or mental or mental or sensory), substance abusers or substance abusers, HIV-positive, incarcerated / released juvenile offenders.

b) The “Special Population Groups” belong to those groups of the population which are at a disadvantage in terms of their smooth integration into the labour market, for economic, social and cultural reasons. These include unemployed young people, unemployed women, over 50s unemployed, long-term unemployed, the heads of single-parent families and members of large families, women victims of abuse, illiterate persons, inhabitants of remote mountainous areas or islands, immigrants and refugees.

5. “Social Care” is the production and provision of goods, as well as health and social welfare services for specific groups of the population, such as the elderly, infants, children, people with disabilities and people with chronic diseases.

The above legislation established the institution of the Social Cooperative Enterprise (Koin.S.Ep.). The Social Cooperative Enterprises are divided into three categories: Social Cooperative Integration Enterprises (integration into the economic and social life of individuals belonging to Vulnerable Population Groups), Social Cooperative Social Care Enterprises (production and provision of social welfare products and services to specific groups of the population) and Social Cooperative Enterprises for Collective and Productive Purpose (production of goods and provision of services that meet the needs of the collective or association).

 EPIONI (Informal Carers Network) is currently taking part in the European Program entitled Social Entrepreneurship Skills to Young CAREgivers of people with chronic Illness (SESYCARE) ERASMUS +. The program will focus on the training of young informal caregivers in social entrepreneurship skills and aims to inform young carers of relevant programs funded by the European Union (eg Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs).

For more information visit


Athens University of Economics and Business, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Unit.

Law 4019/2011 – Government Gazette 216 / Α / 30-9-2011

Law 4019/2011: Social Economy and Social Entrepreneurship and other provisions.

Ariadni Dinou,

EPIONI Board Member

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