The Social Innovators Programme (SIP) builds on the need to develop the social economy in “newer” EU Member States so that it reaches at least the same level as in the ‘older’ Member States. While the UK prides itself on a vibrant social economy estimated at £24 billion and a supportive political power, the concepts of social innovation and social enterprise have limited recognition in Romania and the Czech Republic. The social enterprise sector in these 2 countries emerged as a result of the fall of communism and it is a relatively underdeveloped sector, due to legal & institutional constraints. In contrast, the social enterprise sector in the UK emerged from an active effort by the state to push social enterprise as an approach toward solving its massive economic problems.
Beneficiaries and project aims
The purpose of the Social Innovators Programme (SIP) is to promote sustainable social entrepreneurship & social innovation among young people (aged 18-30) in Eastern Europe by training them and encouraging them to implement innovative solutions to social problems in their countries. We will do this by using social economy models tested in the UK & by shaping them to meet the needs of the Czech Republic & Romania. Our project will enable 120 young people to develop the confidence, resilience & business skills necessary to be a successful entrepreneur & the vision, values & ethics needed to set up a social enterprise. As part of the project, participants will also be provided with a list of funding sources & they will be assigned a mentor who will ease their path into starting up. A study visit to Edinburgh for 20 beneficiaries, who are most likely to start an enterprise, will enhance their learning about social innovation.
The project will involve the following activities:
- Development of training materials that will introduce participants to the foundation of social innovation and social enterprise.
- Development of methodology to help trainers deliver the training.
- Development of project website.
- Recruitment and retention of volunteer mentors: 6 social entrepreneurs per pilot country (Romania, Czech Republic) will help project participants to start up.
- Piloting: Rotaract and Ustav will run 6 pilot programmes each over 18 months. Each programme will run over 6 days and will cover a set of 5 topics on social innovation and social entrepreneurship. We expect that at least 10 young people will take part in one programme, which means a total of at least 60 people per country taking part in the pilot.
- 2 study visits to Edinburgh: 5 young people from Romania & 5 from the Czech Republic per study visit (a total of 20 in the entire project) will meet with 8 young social innovators from Scotland. All participants in the pilot programmes will be evaluated & 10 young people from each pilot country will be selected to go on the study visits to enhance their learning.
- 3 mobilisation meetings (2 per partner).
- Evaluation: of the pilot projects and of the entire project.
- Development of e-guide comprising of all the materials and tools developed during the project, including guidance on how to use them.
- Dissemination: 1 multiplier seminar in each of the countries piloting the programme (Romania, Czech Republic) & 1 final conference.
It is envisaged that the project will have a great impact not only on beneficiaries, but also on partner organisations, volunteers and other stakeholders, which will result in longer term benefits:
- Entrepreneurial skills and social enterprise start-ups – we hope that at least 4 social enterprises will be up and running by the end of this project.
- Enhanced interest in social innovation & improved creativity, competencies and transversal skills of the participants.
- Increased knowledge and skills of managers in the youth field through the sharing of good practice at international level. With the new knowledge, skills and tools (project outputs), the organisations will be able to update their practices, develop innovative strategic actions that focus on helping young people to become social innovators and be active European citizens.
- Improved organisational performance, offering additional stability and professional satisfaction to staff (having more capable and motivated teams) at local and regional level.
- Increased visibility and reputation will be achieved by all partner institutions as well, measured on the increased number of contacts and potential followers (through web based communication tools and resources engaged in the project).
- Social entrepreneurs will gain satisfaction from sharing their knowledge and experience.
- The project will Influence a large number of third-party organisations, & consequently their beneficiaries.
- Rotaract Bucharest (Lead Partner) – Established 21 years ago, Rotaract Bucharest is an NGO of young volunteers with ages between 18-30 years old, students and young professionals working together. Its activity focuses on educational and environmental projects for the community, but also on the personal and professional development of its members. From arts and crafts for underprivileged children to planting trees and raising awareness about environmental issues, the members of Rotaract initiate activities based on their own experience, education and personal learning objectives, but also on the needs of the community. With backgrounds in marketing and communication, social studies, economics and international business, law and IT&C, Rotaract members contribute their skills, time, energy and enthusiasm to service projects. For the 35 Rotaract members, every project is a good opportunity to learn about the community, about each other and about themselves, developing skills and building friendships.
- Ústav sociálních inovací, o.p.s. (in English – Institute of Social Innovation, p.b.o. – public benefit organization) is the non-profit non-governmental organization from Kobylnice, Czech Republic. The organization’s work is oriented mainly towards socio-economically disadvantaged areas – the areas of Jihomoravsky region and partially also Olomouc region. Ustav can bring to the partners more than 10 years’ experience with training and social innovations activities in the Czech regions). In 2014 our organization had 13 staff members and turnover approx. 200 thousands EUR. We are based in the Southern Moravia region (NUTS II Southeast) being active also in the other regions of the Czech Republic.