Key Highlights and Insights from «Think Social. Act Business. Summit», December 2013. The summit was a combination of talks, panels and capacity building workshops. It aimed to build a bridge between policy makers, social enterprises/ social entrepreneurs and academia, focusing less on the definition of social enterprise and more on the tools that enable a market of social impact.
- European and international experience shows that social enterprises existed before specific legal and institutional frameworks were set up. According to Mr. Konstantinos Geormas [ 1 and 2 ], Head of Registry of Social Cooperative Enterprises of the Greek Ministry of Labor, there was no need for an explicit Law on Social Economy [Law 4019/2011] , but around that law social cooperative enterprises were helped to fit their activities into a context.
- Understanding of different segments of the ecosystem and that Social Economy is part of the economy and not separate from it, is a challenge authorities face while mapping the ecosystem and the needs on a local and national level. Local authorities are indicated as a supportive stakeholder for the ecosystem, creating and facilitating collaboration structures. Deborah Kinghorn, Strategic Support Office at Bristol City Council, pointed out that there is an increased need for support of the local economy and employment opportunities [ 3, Ewa Sadowska «Entire network is established by local partnerships, all members, civil society, around Poland. Big change towards cooperative movement and solidarity movement.» ] as local budgets are decreasing. The City of Athens launched its initiative «Enterprise socially» in order to develop a dialogue with the ecosystem. The value that social entrepreneurship brings is that it addresses a need through a business solution, a reinvestment in local economy.
- Stability of taxation system and tax exemptions/ breaks should be considered, as examples from many countries show, e.g. Poland/UK have tax exemptions, Greece  has no tax exemptions etc. Regulation of procurement and regulation are therefore considerable points regarding the institutional framework.
- In most places in Europe there is a poor impact investment practice and infrastructure. According to Georg Schoen, Venture Coordinator Ashoka, Austria and CEE, Ashoka’s approach is establishing a co‐creation process with the private sector and its networks, and mobilizing the public sector e.g. Austria ‐ Erste Bank/ GoodBee and Erste Bank Foundation, Poland ‐Ashoka Social Business Accelerator Programme. [6, «Once you have the models in place, you can communicate to the outside world and start to ﬂy»]. This could also create an open bankable pipeline of social entrepreneurs, e.g. Financial Agency for Social Entrepreneurs . Katy Hill  presented the model of the City of London Corporation [also have a look A brief handbook on social investment, City of London Corporation], which is based on three pillars of social investment: government, private, foundation, combining grants and investor capital (co‐investment) [Huge injection of cash – Big Society Capital – dormant capital – earmarked for social beneﬁt: 400mil + high street 50mil each]. Greece currently has a micro-loan scheme for SME’s through the Pancretan Cooperative Bank but not a targeted social finance‐social investment model for social enterprises. Based on their grant giving strategies, grant‐giving foundations have the potential to develop new or hybrid models, which might contribute to sustainability of their grantees both at an organizational and a financial level.
- There is a need for the provision of a consistent framework for reporting impact of social organizations in order to increase transparency and accountability to stakeholders and improvement at a very early stage. Andreja Rosandic, Regional Sustainability Manager NESsT [8 and 9]mentioned that one of the sector’s challenges is to create a culture of reporting for social impact and empowering communication of impact. Before talking about impact we have to think about what the problem is and the system around it first, rather than be based on assumptions. Leaders of the social sector have similar traits to business entrepreneurs, as Aphrodite Bouikidis, Launch Leader Ashoka Greece, pointed out. Susana Balet-Robinson from Stone Soup stressed that medium and long‐term strategy tools like the Social Reporting Standard (SRS) [Greek translation by Manolis Tzouvelekas accessible here] and SROI analysis can be applied also to the Greek ecosystem and provide a basis for impact reporting.
- Regarding the field of capacity building, educational institutions have to include social entrepreneurship in their activities. One of the successful examples is the Social Entrepreneurship Academy18 (SEA) in Germany, which is a collaboration between universities and their entrepreneurship units but independently funded by strategic partnerships, in order not only to make the program independent and sustainable but also to overcome bureaucratic restrictions of the state. Oliver Beckmann from SEA pointed out that potential social entrepreneurs and social intrapreneurs have to possess an in-depth knowledge of their fields in order to create innovation. Greece’s activity in terms of social education is in its early stages, and we see approaches into this direction from various academic institutions e.g. Athens University of Economics and Business, SEA’s model as well as UnLtd.’s model, which is operating as a support structure (educational and financial) for social entrepreneurs while also collaborating closely with academic institutions, as Karl Belizaire, Policy Manager UnLtd mentioned.
Report editors team: Tonia Eliascou, Evita Kolokouri, Maria‐Louiza Laopodi, Alexandra Velndiou, Konstantina Zoehrer (180º- 180moires.org)
Original report was published in English and Greek on the website of the British Council Greece.
Photographer: Daniel Zawaczynski