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Developing a social economy in Cyprus

akti social

Measures needed to provide a support framework

By Kyriaki Demetriou

Social entrepreneurship has the remarkable potential to tackle the economic and unemployment crisis by combining profitability with sustainable growth and inclusion to deliver significant positive social and environmental impact for the common good.

However, although social economy is gaining popularity in Cyprus, there is a lack of a support system and financial incentives that promotes the development of social enterprises.

The recent networking workshop ‘Development of Social Economy in Cyprus’ that took place within the framework of the European-Union funded project “Go Social: Supporting Employability through Social Entrepreneurship”, brought together key stakeholders of social and environmental economy from Cyprus and abroad to increase mobilisation and engagement of policy makers towards the development of the sector in Cyprus.

The workshop highlighted the potential of social entrepreneurship in new and established economic activities as well as the social, environmental and economic benefits for Cyprus, especially within the context of improving employability and supporting the work integration of vulnerable groups.

The following key suggestions were     proposed for creating a supporting framework for the development of social economy in Cyprus deriving from the presentations of the keynote speakers and workshop discussion:

Organise national awareness campaigns to recognise and highlight the importance and benefits of social economy as a crucial driver in shaping a sustainable, inclusive, healthy and green future

Create a positive social entrepreneurship culture among the future generations by promoting social and environmental entrepreneurship at all levels of school education

Provide attractive incentives for companies, like tax exemptions, to promote the development of the social economy

Provide easily accessible grants and subsidies from public authorities and EU funds to new social and environmental businesses and existing businesses that would like to transit to social economy,

Create seed funding opportunities for innovative, solution-oriented ideas to support their start-up and growth

Include simplified tender procedures and reporting requirements for social businesses within the new law on social entrepreneurship

Educate the young generation of entrepreneurs on new business models deriving from the circular economy principles

Create a recognisable certification/label for social businesses to increase awareness and visibility of social economy products and services among consumers

Promote social and solidarity economy by providing training to migrants and refugees on green jobs to enable their work integration

Train unemployed and socially vulnerable youth in educational/academic subjects and professions that are important for social and ecological sustainability and green-circular economy

Organise training programmes on current social and environmental needs and challenges within the Cyprus context

Provide practical guidance on how social entrepreneurs can provide solutions to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and in charting the way towards recovery.

Promote partnership and collaboration within organisations, institutions, private and public sectors within Cyprus for the development and implementation of social enterprises

Although in its early stages, a new social economy is emerging in Cyprus. Better collaboration and commitment are needed among public authorities, the social and economic actors. Coordinated actions for the development of support mechanisms, financial incentives, resource mobilisation, awareness raising, education and training in social entrepreneurship, are essential elements for the development of the sector. Enabling environment for social enterprises is supporting economic growth and benefiting society and the environment for the whole island.

 

Kyriaki Demetriou is a member of the AKTI Project and Research Centre, a member of GoSocial Team www.gosocialcy.eu

 

 

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