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The numerous entities of social economy and entrepreneurship who participated and collaborated in the Social Entrepreneurship Forum, 20-21 November 2014, in Athens, representing the diversity of social economy, confirmed their belief that a different, social and solidarity economy exists and is the answer to the multifaceted Greek and European crisis.

This two-day event was jointly organized by “Wind of Renewal” (Anemos Ananeosis) – Social Cooperative Enterprise, 180 Moires Social Cooperative Enterprise, BENISI – Scaling Social Innovation, Social Entrepreneurship Supporting Network (SES Net), Heinrich Böll Foundation in Greece, Impact Hub Athens and Ecological Recycling Society.

Within an interactive format the Forum provided information, spread good practices and business models of social enterprises from Greece and abroad, promote collaboration and networking of entrepreneurial initiatives and cooperative enterprises, and in-depth-discussions around the following topics were hosted: collaboration of local authorities with social enterprises based on the European legislation, financial instruments, potential of development and growth of social enterprises, sustainable public procurement,  potential of energy cooperatives, tools and methods for measuring and reporting on social impact of social enterprises.

The Forum concluded its working procedures with a Declaration in which the following is stressed out:  «Social economy and social entrepreneurship are recognized as factors of social and economic cohesion in Europe, thus contributing to the building of a pluralist and resilient social economy. They are also engines of change, developing innovative solutions to the challenges face nowadays.

Operating in the common interest, they create jobs, provide innovative products and services, and promote the formation of a more sustainable economy, while contributing to the integration of democracy in economy jointly with environmental protection. They create new prospects and hopes for the future, based on the principles of solidarity and the empowerment of ownership, by supporting citizens in regaining control of the decision-making affecting their lives.

Furthermore the Declaration of the Forum points out:
« The future of social and solidarity economy depends on its bottom-up development, together with the development of institutions for consulting and support by the social economy initiatives themselves.
– Best practices and know-how from other European countries may assist Greece in its social economy,
– It is necessary to upgrade and give new meaning to the concepts of cooperative and collaboration, as well as their management and organization».

The Declaration of the Social Entrepreneurship Forum demands:
National, regional and local authorities need to encourage the collaboration of social enterprises beyond boundaries and frontiers.
A more powerful commitment has to be made, at a European, national, regional and local level, to encourage collaboration with bodies of social economy, with the aim of jointly formulating new support policies for social enterprises, based on a local framework.
Public authorities, central and local governance have to incorporate environmental and social characteristics in their public procurements for works, products and services, always based on European legislation and best practices.
– A more powerful commitment has to be made, at a European, national, regional and local level, to encourage collaboration with bodies of social economy, with the aim of jointly formulating new support policies for social enterprises, based on on a local framework.
Ministries and regional authorities have to remove all existing obstacles and discriminations relating to the possibility of social enterprises, regardless of their legal form, accessing calls for funding programmes within the next programming period 2014-2020 and to all European Structural and Investment Funds, sustainability and social cohesion policies.
– Cooperative Banks, as institutions of Social Economy, bear the duty to collaborate towards the development of suitable tools for the assessment of social enterprise business plans. These methodologies will have to effectively highlight and reflect the social and environmental criteria that differentiate not only cooperative banks, but also social enterprises from the competition.
– It is necessary to formulate alternative financial tools that are suitable for the promotion and reinforcement of social economy and entrepreneurship.
– It is imperative that a genuine dialogue is started on a new tax system which promotes social justice and environmental protection.»

The complete text of the Declaration of the Social Entrepreneurship Forum can be read here

The participants who attended the discussion panels of the Greek Social Entrepreneurship Forum were representatives of social enterprises, institutional organisations, citizen society organisations, cooperative financial institutions, researchers from Greece and abroad as well as a significant number of elected local government representatives, as the Mayor of the City of Athens G. Kaminis, the Mayor of Kozani L. Ioannidis, Vice-Mayor for Citizen Engagement, Youth & Sports of the City of Thessaloniki K. Zervas, the Mayor of Agios Dimitrios of Attica M. Androutsou, Local Councillor of Neas Smyrni of Attica P. Pantos. 

The working procedures were attended by the Mayor of Chios Em. Vouros, the Regional  Councillor of South Aegean E. Ftaklaki, as well as many other Vice-Mayors and local councillor from various municipalities.

Participating organisations:
– Agricultural Cooperative of Prickly Pear Producers of Krya Vrysi “Kedros”
– Development Agency of Karditsa AN.KA. SA.,
– BIOSCOOP, Social Consumer Cooperative of Thessaloniki
– Women Cooperative of Kato Tithorea “THIMONIA”,
– Social Cooperative Enterprise Network Central Macedonia
– European Research Institute of Cooperative and Social Enterprises (Euricse)
– eBanka Croatia
– Green Energy Cooperative, Croatia
– “AGROZEVXI” Social Cooperative Enterprise
– “SPEIRA GIS” Social Cooperative Enterprise
– Orthodox Academy of Crete,
– PANCRETAN Cooperative Bank,
– Producer – Consumer Cooperative “GAIA” Crete
– Cooperative “THESgala – PIES”, Thessaly
– Cooperative Bank of Karditsa,
– RESCOOP Energy Cooperative Belgium,
as well as SOCIAL ENTERPRISES from Italy, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Austria.

The Forum is being held with the support of the Representation of the European Commission in Greece, the European Parliament Office in Greece, BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, Association of Cooperative Banks in Greece and INNOVATHENS – Innovation and Entrepreneurship Hub at Technopolis – City of Athens.