DEVELOPMENT OF THE PROJECT IDEA: 

The maturity of the idea came in the context of the long-standing cooperation of the Region of Central Macedonia with other partners on the Greek side, specifically the University of Macedonia and the Democritus University of Thrace. In particular, with this proposal, the existing co-operation between the Greek partners who are involved in the regional strategy for social economy was expanded and enriched with the Bulgarian partners linked to long-term bilateral or multilateral co-operation on issues of common interest, including economic interest. The main objective of the project is to establish a mechanism for measurable empowerment of the social economy or support for social enterprises in the areas of program implementation and the main support indicators are: a) increasing the number of users of services and products and the turnover of existing social services; (b) the creation of new social enterprises.

MAIN CHALLENGES OF THE PROJECT: According to the existing data, Bulgaria already had 501 social enterprises in the intervention area during the submission of the Proposal for the project Action Plan for Social Entrepreneurship. The corresponding enterprises in the Greek intervention area of ​​the project reached only 37. However, the qualitative data for both countries is as follows: low level of social innovation / lack of administrative tools for the development of sales (management and marketing) even in the broader widespread professional skills / unsatisfactory access to information and counseling services for financial tools to support their activities / low level of networking and collaboration, even the if directed to similar services to the same target group / weak to nonexistent networking and synergy across the border, resulting in no exchange of experience in the organization and promotion of similar or complementary social services.

On the basis of these data, the need for organized support of existing and established social enterprises is not satisfied in order to: a) improve their administrative capacity, promote their services / products to a wider audience, and b) skills of their members through networking and exchange of experiences with other social enterprises, educational and research centers that are particularly active in the border region.

BENEFICIARIES OF THE PROJECT: Direct beneficiaries are, in principle, the existing social enterprises and their executives, and then the social enterprises that will be created. Beneficiaries are also members of vulnerable groups on both sides of the border region.

THE MAIN PRODUCTS OF THE PROJECT are grouped according to the basic work packages as follows: A) Products for the Social Economy, which mainly concern the following: A1) databases and tools for registration of characteristic social enterprises, A2) diagnostic tools for the needs of social enterprises and A3) monitoring and evaluating the economic and social performance of social enterprises. B) Products related to the business development support structure and mainly related to the following: B1) Educational tools and advisory standards, B2) Guides to access to public procurement, exploitation of financial tools, social franchising, etc. B3) Networking models and laboratories for existing and under social enterprises. C) Pilot application products mainly related to the following: C1) Training and support services for social business executives. C2) Interconnection actions of social economy with the education system, C3) Actions that highlight the products of social enterprises and the social economy combined with local development initiatives. D) Products resulting from the publicity of the project.

EXPECTED RESULTS OF THE PROJECT: The first expected outcome of the project is to improve the quality of the design and thus to improve the effectiveness of social economy policies and measures. The project's services and products are expected to restore the necessary knowledge of the characteristics of social enterprises in the region. The need to acquire this knowledge is stated in the Project and is a prerequisite for rational policy development. In this prespective, achieving this expected result will be an innovation in the sense that it will significantly improve the current level of quality in the design of social entrepreneurship policies by public authorities. The second expected outcome of the project is the overall empowerment of social entrepreneurship and social enterprises, which will result from the services provided by the Social Entrepreneurship Support Structure created through the project as well as through the implementation of pilot applications.

The second expected outcome of the project is the overall strengthening of social entrepreneurship and social enterprises, resulting from the services provided by the Social Entrepreneurship Support Structure will be created through the project as well as the implementation of the pilot applications. These actions will enhance the qualitative characteristics of executives and members of social enterprises, improve their organizational characteristics and ultimately increase employment in social enterprises. Consequently, this result will contribute to achieving the target value of the R0210 result indicator of the Cooperation Programme “Interreg V-A Greece-Bulgaria 2014-2020”

The overall objective of the project is a measurable strengthening of the social economy and in particular of social enterprises in the areas of project implementation, which will be expressed by: (a) increasing the number of users of services and products, as well as the turnover of existing social enterprises; (b) the creation of new social enterprises.

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