Social entrepreneurs are passionate entrepreneurs who bring innovative solutions and business models to the market with the main aim of driving positive social and environmental change. The members of Euclid Network (EN) provide crucial support for development and growth of social entrepreneurship in Europe and neighbouring countries. To shed light on the world of the frontrunners shaping the social enterprise ecosystem, Euclid Network is pleased to present you the Annual Consultation 2020-2021.
Euclid Network (EN), the European Social Enterprise Network, spent close to the last 15 years empowering positive change by connecting and enhancing social entrepreneurs and their support organisations. Together with our extended network, we are committed to get into place the critical support needed by social entrepreneurs for them to play their crucial role in reaching the SDGs. The Annual Consultation 2020-2021 provides insight into the current state of social support in Europe and neighbouring countries. Based on an extensive survey of EN members, this report highlights the diversity of actors in the network, types of support they build, their activities in the areas identified by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the barriers for the sector.
Throughout Europe and neighbouring countries, networks, social innovation centres, governments, universities, knowledge centres, social investors, incubators and accelerators are all actively supporting social enterprises to emerge, develop and scale. EN’s growing network federates all these types of organisations. The largest group of EN members are (inter)national networks for social enterprises/civil society leaders, followed by incubators/accelerators and training centres. EN members are diverse in size. Overall, staff at social enterprise support organisations are relatively young and in majority led by women.
EN members provide various types of support, most notably capacity building, education and training and networking opportunities. They also conduct research, advocate for policy change in favour of the development of social enterprise and provide access to funding, markets support, amongst other activities. Social enterprises require dedicated support in every growth stage. Where starting social enterprises may benefit most from mentoring and capacity-building programmes, scale-ups are mostly in need of funding opportunities. While some EN members have specific expertise on supporting social enterprises in the idea or start-up phase, others support social enterprise in the scale-up or growth phase.
Social enterprises are key actors for building a society and economy where people and the planet are at the centre. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a framework to distinguish the different impact areas in which social enterprises are supported by EN members. Almost all of our members indicate they are aware of the SDGs and 76% even actively pursue these goals as part of their impact-driven mission. The impact areas that generate most interest are education, climate action, gender equality and poverty reduction. Compared to last year the topics of education, climate action and gender equality have particularly increased in interest.
The social enterprise sector is relatively nascent and the organisations providing business support still experience barriers to their development. Our members identified the main barriers of the social enterprise sector as poor lack of understanding of social enterprises and lack of dedicated funding schemes. These barriers need to be lifted to elevate the scale of impact delivered by social enterprises.
EN understands the challenges facing impact practitioners and provides opportunities for social enterprise support organisations to connect with international peers, share good practices, produce professional and entrepreneurial knowhow and research, engage and participate in European projects, successfully raise (EU)-funding (together), influence (inter)national policies and raise the visibility and understanding of social enterprise internationally.