Aim

The CB area includes some of the most deprived and isolated communities of both countries, as manifested by rising poverty rates and high unemployment rates, as a consequence of this labor market breakdown, the CB area exhibits depopulation trends. The prevailing economic recession and fiscal crisis across both sides of the border have further intensified public and private sector disinvestment in social services, further weakening the delivery and sustainability of social welfare policy in the CB area aimed at resolving poverty and social exclusion problems. Also the characteristics of the production system combined with the low education levels and a mismatch between labor demand and supply have led to high unemployment (mainly in the Greek part), poverty and social exclusion.Recent years have seen a burgeoning interest in social enterprise across Europe, strongly driven by a growing recognition of the role social enterprise can play in tackling societal and environmental challenges and fostering inclusive growth.

Yet, despite interest in and the emergence of examples of inspirational and ‘disruptive’ social enterprise, relatively little is known about the scale and characteristics of the emerging social enterprise ‘sector’ in the Greece – Bulgaria Cross Border Area.There exists both a lack of availability and consistency of statistical information on social enterprises across the Cross Border area.Social enterprises are an important driver for inclusive growth and play a key role in tackling current economic and environmental challenges, according to a report published by the European Commission.Social entrepreneurship has been proven at European level to alleviate both labor market entry obstacles and social service delivery obstacles to special population groups, problems both present in the eligible programme area. Unfortunately, such information (e.g. types of services delivered, target groups, effectiveness in alleviating obstacles, etc) is extremely limited regarding the eligible area social enterprises and needs to be addressed.

There is a common need for local actions and initiatives for the provision of opportunities for social entrepreneurs to enter the market and search for market niches and trade possibilities. An overall objective is to produce new knowledge and raise the awareness enabling people in the CB area, to fully understand the conditions under which social entrepreneurship starts, develops and can contribute effectively and efficiently to solving societal challenges in a sustainable way. Also the project aims to enforce the effectiveness of the regional policies and local initiatives in promoting and supporting social entrepreneurship through the designing of common activities fostering awareness of social economy and cooperation for setting up an innovative support structure acting as Social Entrepreneurship E- Help Desk in Greece and Bulgaria, as an asset for local  economic development and territorial competitiveness.

Also, will encourage knowledge transfer for the social enterprises, in order to familiarize themselves with good management and marketing, examples and exchange of information, having knowledge of the specifics of other social enterprises. Expected results of the project also refer to an increased capacity of the policy makers and stakeholders in detecting the needs of social enterprises in their territories, thus favoring a local sustainable development.The main outputs of the operation are a catalogue of the identified and selected good practices on regional public instruments to support social enterprises together with a roadmap and joint guidelines for setting up and running an innovative social enterprise. Starting from different level of competences and experiences, the partners intend to exchange experiences, methods and tools which have proved successful in strengthening the economic viability and entrepreneurial spirit of the social enterprises, and undertake actions to foster social enterprises networking and internationalisation across the border area.

Target groups and final users of the project's outputs and results are mainly unemployed people and existing Ses, NGO's, relative stakeholders interesting in Social Economy and Entrepreneurship for all over the cross border area.

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