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On the 23rd February, EN’s Policy Lead Toby Gazeley was fortunate enough to attend a conference in Tbilisi Georgia focusing on the future development of the Georgian ecosystem for social enterprises. The conference, organised by the Georgian Civil Society Institute, Alliance for Social Enterprises and supported by Impact Europe brought together many stakeholders from the national and local ecosystems to focus on the three priorities for the development of the ecosystem: 

  1. Achieving legal recognition for social enterprises
  2. Developing financial instruments to support social enterprises
  3. Raising the visibility and awareness about social enterprises, in particular through education 

Alongside an expert speaker from Poland, Toby shared several examples of how sector-led and grass-roots initiatives pioneered by social enterprise support organisations have led to an increase in awareness and understanding of social enterprises. This increase in awareness however does not stand alone but is fundamentally linked with improvements in the development of legal frameworks and financial instruments.

Toby highlighted in particular the European Social Enterprise Monitor (ESEM) project as a tool to build understandings of social enterprises among all stakeholders groups, reflecting on the lack of visibility being sighted as the top barrier facing those enterprises surveyed in 2021-22. Delving more into depth, he highlighted the German experience in particular as well as the amazing progress that has been seen in the last few years in a country with a fairly new and rapidly developing ecosystem. Considering educational activities more closely and in consultation with the Social Enterprise Association of Latvia, Toby highlighted several examples of degree programmes that now exist and focus on social entrepreneurship in Latvia. 

The Georgian ecosystem seems to be characterised by a close relationship between entrepreneurship and youth in particular, perhaps highlighting a potential relevance to the ongoing work of the Youth Entrepreneurship Policy Academy. As an aspiring EU Member State with a vibrant social enterprise sector, seeing these different policy areas come together adds to the dynamism of the ecosystem development. 

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