Social Economy and Proximity Sectorial Catalogue

Like any other sector, the social economy sector needs is part of and needs to adjust to the European Green Deal and the Circular Economy Action Plan. This document provides information about the social economy sector, circular business models and how these two concepts may benefit from one another. General specifics of the social economy are introduced at the beginning followed by challenges regarding ecological sustainability and circular economy. It is shown that every challenge is also an opportunity to improve something. As many SMEs struggle with gaining an overview or finding a starting point for action, this catalogue functions as a first step in this direction. Examples are provided for opportunities and best practices are shared from advanced SMEs in the sector. Beyond that advisors with a focus on social economy
organisations may use this catalogue for their work in additionally supporting social economy SMEs in this field.

The social economy in Europe is characterized by enterprises and organizations that prioritize social objectives over profit maximization. These entities operate in various sectors, including cooperatives, mutual societies, non-profit organizations, social enterprises, and foundations. The key characteristics of the social economy include a focus on social cohesion, solidarity, sustainability, and community development. These organizations aim to address societal challenges, promote inclusivity, and create social impact while also fostering economic activities and job creation. The European Union recognizes the importance of the social economy and its potential to contribute significantly to the EU’s economic growth and social well-being. As a result, the EU has taken several steps to support and promote the social economy in its member states.

Furthermore, the EU has established various funding mechanisms to support social economy projects and initiatives. For example, the European Social Fund (ESF) provides financial assistance to member states to invest in their human capital and promote social inclusion and job opportunities. In addition to these efforts, the EU is committed to fostering social entrepreneurship and supporting social enterprises through policy measures that facilitate access to funding, markets, and expertise. They also promote social innovation and encourage collaboration between different stakeholders, including governments, businesses, and civil society organizations, to address societal challenges effectively.

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