Coordination of the social economy sector

The Regional Centre of Social Policy in Rzeszów runs a project named „Coordination of social economy sector in podkarpackie voivodship”. One of the main aims of the project is the popularization of social enterprises in the region by the promotion of local products and services as well as undertaking marketing initiatives for social enterprises in the region. Within the frame of this activity, the local public television TVP Rzeszów prepared a series of documentaries called “Społeczne podkarpacie” (Social podkarpacie) presenting prosperous social enterprises of the region. The series presents Professional Activity Establishments, Centers for Social Integration, Occupational Therapy Workshops and Social Cooperatives which create job opportunities for those who have been unemployed and threatened by social exclusion for a long time, as well as enable the rehabilitation of disabled and chronically ill persons.

TVP Rzeszów broadcasts the series but it is also possible to watch all the episodes free of charge on the website specially dedicated to this series:

Besides the popularization of social economy entities, the series aims at raising awareness concerning social enterprises in the region, creating a positive image of social economy entities and increasing general knowledge about social economy.

5 Mistakes Social Impact Start-Ups Make (And How To Avoid Them)

In 12 years of working in social enterprises, I’ve noticed a few mistakes most social impact start-ups make. Most of these aren’t malicious, but can cause major pain to your social enterprise. Here are five mistakes I’ve seen most often, and the ways to avoid them so you don’t make the same mistake.

5 Mistakes Social Impact Start-Ups Make And How To Avoid Them


Mistake #1: Starting without any plan at all

Most social enterprises start with no plan. No business plan, no strategic plan, no plan at all. And I totally understand prototyping and testing and failing and all that garbage that’s trendy right now. But this “jump in and see” attitude is not the same as critical thinking. There’s a time and place for prototyping (I talk about that later in this post).

I’m not saying you need a 40 page business plan before you start your social enterprise. But you do need to research and think enough about the business to know at least an ESTIMATE of your costs and expenses, reasonable revenue projections, competitive analysis, what staff may be needed, an idea of an operational plan, how you’re going to find and engage customers… and of course, how you’ll track and measure your social impact. Without this, you could find yourself 10-years into your business, still consider it a “start-up” and not have generated any profit or social impact (true story of a social enterprise I know).

How to avoid this mistake: Create a financially and impactfully sustainable plan! And I’ll help you.

Mistake #2: Not paying your staff

You probably won’t be able to pay staff right off the bat. But the sustainability and growth of your social enterprise relies on stellar staff to keep it going, so compensate them appropriately! And when I say stellar, I mean the very best person you can find for the job. If you have an open position, take your time to find the right fit. Hire slow, fire fast.

Volunteers can supplement your staff, but not replace them. Board members are not your staff. And just like your paid staff, onboard board members slowly and if possible, dismiss them quickly.

How to avoid this mistake: Build compensation into your business plan from the start. Be clear about how and when you’ll reasonably be able to pay staff (including yourself), to retain the talented unicorns you’ve got on your team.


Mistake #3: Starting a social enterprise in an industry you know nothing about

Don’t be Jon Snow. Know a little something about the industry you’re starting your social enterprise in. Don’t know anything? Hire someone who does. Can’t afford that? Work in the industry for a bit or learn about it yourself.

Just because you had the idea doesn’t mean you’re the best person to start or run the social enterprise.

For example, if you’ve never worked in construction and don’t know anything about the construction industry (regulations, licenses, safety, vendors, contracts, etc), would it make sense to start a social enterprise in that field? Probably not. Maybe work in that field for a bit. Take some classes in construction. Read some books. But just hoping that things will work out in your favor because of your social mission - well that’s just an expensive disservice to the people you’re trying to help.

How to avoid this mistake: Start a social enterprise in field you already know. If you don’t know the industry, hire someone who does.

Mistake #4: Assuming people will buy your product or service simply because of the social purpose

They won’t. People will not buy your product or service simply because of the social purpose. Your product or service needs to be competitive on price, quality, value, accessibility, and availability as every other in your niche - and all other things being equal - the consumer may decide to purchase in your favor because of the social purpose. Now, there are varying degrees of this elasticity depending on your product/service industry, but the general concept stays the same.

Considering many social enterprises are selling a product, let’s take that example for a moment. Say you purchase a cup of coffee from a local coffee shop that only sells fair trade, organic coffee. If that cup of coffee doesn’t taste good, how many more cups of coffee are you going to buy from that coffee shop? One? Maybe? Even if the coffee shop is convenient, you love the social mission, and the price is right (or less than other places!), the quality is poor and customers won’t come back. And it costs five times more to attract a new customer than retain an existing one, so let’s make sure they have a great experience, eh?    

How to avoid this mistake: Make sure your product or service is competitive on the factors the customer looks for: price, quality, value, accessibility, and availability. I have a free Competitive Analysis guide to do this work BEFORE launching your social enterprise, in the free social enterprise toolkit. Access the social enterprise toolkit here.

Mistake #5: Assuming there’s a problem where there isn’t

The other mistakes I mention here are mostly related to the business side, but there’s a major mistake I see on the impact side of creating a social enterprise: the assumption of a social or environmental problem where there isn’t one.

What I mean by this is assuming you know the answer to the issue without fully understanding the problem.  

How can you get to the root of the problem and fully understand it?

  1. Ask the people experiencing the issue. This process is called Human Centered Design, and is essentially a method of asking people what they want and creating a solution specifically for them. has a free, 4-week course in this topic and exactly how to do it - I recommend signing up for it here.
  2. Use the 5 Whys. This is an activity you can do by yourself or with your board or cofounder. Start with stating the social or environmental problem you’re trying to solve. Then ask why, and answer as clearly as you can. Repeat this until you’ve asked why five times, or until you have clarity on the root of the issue. You might get stuck on the third or fourth time you ask why, and may need to do some research before you can answer. That’s great! Don’t feel like you have to have all the answers - you probably don’t.

How to avoid this mistake: Use Human Centered Design and the 5 whys to get to the root of the issue. Get to know the Sustainable Development Goals. Get to know others who are addressing the same issue already.

If you are interested in social enterprises, take a short look at this conference!

The Social Enterprise World Forum is an event for global practitioners, academics, investors, governments interested in social enterprise to come together to look at what's happening in the world and how we can collaborate to progress the social enterprise movement.

The Social Enterprise World Forum 2018 is an international event for social enterprises from all over the world to come together, share wisdom, build networks and discuss how to create a more sustainable future. The event attracts social enterprise practitioners, social entrepreneurs, policy makers, community leaders, investors, activists, academics, supporters and more from all across the globe.

Returning to Edinburgh after 10 years, we have a unique opportunity to reflect on how the social enterprise movement has progressed in the last decade. We will develop a common vision for the next ten years, building on the remarkable interest in social enterprise as a sustainable business model. If you are exploring, operating, funding or supporting social enterprises and the environment they operate in, join us in Edinburgh, Scotland on 12-14th September for SEWF 2018!

SEWF 2018 is the global platform to share your story, learn from others and celebrate progress together. We hope to see you there!

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SENTINEL as a good example at the Impact 2018 conference 

Zagreb hosted the Impact 2018 conference on the 14th of February 2018. Over 150 participants had a discussion on social economy, social and impact investment and social innovation.

The special panel on Social Impact Investing raised the following questions: what is the current state of social impact investing? How is it different from traditional investing? What type of investment can bring the best social and financial returns? The moderators, Ewa Konczal (EVPA) Rohit Dave (Twilio Impact Fund), Rod Schwartz (ClearlySo), Primož Šporar (Sklad 05 Foundation for Social Investment), Marta-Patricia Aparicio y Montesinos (Business Angel) and Dinko Novoselec (Feelsgood Fund) stressed the importance of good support for social enterprises in order to shrink the risks of investors and the need for a closer co-operation between all stakeholders.

SENTINEL was mentioned as one of the best examples.


Maribor was officially announced the European capital of social economy for 2018.

This is also the year when Slovenia has a mandate for the chairmanship among the EU countries in the sphere of social economy. The announcement is for Maribor is an opportunity to promote social entrepreneurship and its further development. We are more than happy that the pilot activities of the SENTINEL project will be implemented by Foundation Prizma and Fund05 in the region.

Buying from Social Enterprise

Buying from a social enterprise is one of the easiest and most effective ways of breaking the cycle of disadvantage and strengthening Australian communities.

The power of buying socially means that every time goods and services are bought from a social enterprise, positive social change is also created. Buying Social is something that can be done by consumers and by government and business through responsible social procurement strategies.

When government and business choose to buy from social enterprise we refer to this as social procurement. In essence, you get the product or service that you would have gotten from a commercial supplier, but you also get the added value created through jobs and opportunities for people who may have struggled to find work, reinvigoration of depressed or marginalised communities as well as driving better business outcomes through improved staff engagement and positive brand messaging.

The simple decision to buy from social enterprise can deliver huge benefits to individuals and communities. People who have spent years out of work are often the target beneficiaries for social enterprises. A job for one of these people can be transformational, for that person and for their family. When you consider that tens of thousands of people are benefiting from social enterprises across Australia, we can see that it is a significant agent for social change with enormous potential to scale its impact.

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9 Mobile Apps That Are Taking Social Entrepreneurship to the Next Level

While the idea of social entrepreneurship isn’t new, it has taken a more concrete definition only recently. Twenty years ago, The Rise of the Social Entrepreneur by Charles Leadbeater was published, commenting on how a ragtag group of misfits and dreamers were mobilizing business resources and tactics for helping deprived communities or even lost causes.

The book set fire to the imagination of many entrepreneurs who wanted to pursue a higher calling. More motivated by tangible social change than inflating profit margins and satisfying shareholders, the social entrepreneurship movement has finally come of age and is an established business practice today.

As information technology has become more ubiquitous with business, its effect on social entrepreneurs was all but inevitable. The democratization of technology is empowering more people with information and creating value like never before. The mobile revolution has only taken this idea even further.

So, while being part of massive social change until recently could only be considered by people with deep pockets and big ideas, today everyone can contribute to something they care about. As long as you have a smartphone -- and who doesn’t -- you can now contribute to whatever issue you care about and have fun while you’re at it. Here are nine mobile applications that can help do just that.

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SozialMarie Call for Applications 2018

For the 14th time SozialMarie will be awarded. We are looking for projects that design and implement socially innovative solutions to societal challenges. Last year 190 applications have reached us from Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia and Slovakia, 15 projects were awarded SozialMarie prizes on 1st of May 2017.

Are you implementing a socially innovative project which addresses present-day social challenges, conflicts and problems? If yes, then please submit!

Since 2017 all projects are to also be submitted in English so as to facilitate international exchange of knowledge and experience. Try consulting our growing database of submitted projects on our website.

More information: Call for applications & Application form


One member of SENTINEL's partnership, Social Impact is looking for innovative early stage  social entreprises from  Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, CzechRepublic, Hungary, Kosovo, Montenegro, Poland, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia for the 3rd Startery Central &Eastern Europe summit on Social Innovation in Budapest, Hungary 13.11. – 17.11.2017.

Apply now!


Lead partner - The hungarian charity service of the order of málta

The Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta will be the Lead Partner of the project, coordinating and supervising all activities and responsible for the management and communication work packages. Meanwhile, partners dealing with local level management and coordination will also fulfil their reporting obligations. HCSOM is also assisted by external experts. The entire team of the project will be in constant contact with the partners, regularly informing them of the results and experiences.
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Rzeszow Regional Development Agency (RRDA)

RRDA is a public body, established in 1993 by the self-government of Podkarpackie Region (PR). Its objective is to support the development of the region, to improve the quality and standard of life, and to advertise and promote the possibilities offered by the region. RRDA was the first institution in PR supporting and granting new social initiatives, especially the development of social cooperatives. From 2007 RRDA is a regional support institution for social enterprises  in Podkarpackie Region.  RRDA will actively participate in all project activities. It will work together with the other Polish partner, ROPS in mapping SE support and networking initiatives and analysis of SE’s support needs in Poland. RRDA has significant experience in implementing and managing regional, national, cross-border and international EU co-financed projects. “Social enterprises as a chance for long-term unemployed.”

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Trentino Federation of Cooperation

Trentino Federation of Cooperation (FTC) is a non-governmental private organization founded in 1895. It groups together almost all the co-operative enterprises of the Trentino region (ca. 500). FTC acts as representative of the local cooperation system, providing assistance, consulting, supervision, political representation and auditing services to coops in all business sectors (i.e. credit, retail, agriculture, labour, social, services and housing). FTC has 180 staff members who carry out social reporting, inter-cooperative projects, research and studies on social enteprises, innovative trainings, as well as European projects and international initiatives. By grouping cooperative credit banks, FTC facilitates the match between potential social services and tailored financial instruments. FTC also supports young entrepreneurs in the start-up of new cooperative enterprises.

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Ústav sociálních inovací o.p.s. (USI) is the member of SENTINEL's partnership. USI has experience in working with social innovation aspects since 2002, including involvement of local, regional and other different stakeholders into the project implementation. We have implemented projects oriented on social entrepreneurship, methodology transfer for quality of training in social enterprises in the Czech Republic. It will be pleasure to share good experiences inconnection with social enterprises in SENTINEL.

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Social impact

Social Impact’s team for transnational projects are pleased to be part of the SENTINEL, fostering the development of social entrepreneurship across the Central European region. The non-profit Social Impact gGmbH is Germany’s first social start-up incubator and runs currently more than 20 incubation programs in the field of social and inclusive entrepreneurship. SENTINEL has a European teamwork and the spirit for social innovation in Europe.

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central european initiative - cei

Established in 1989, the Central European Initiative is the largest intergovernmental forum for regional cooperation in Europe, encompassing 18 Member States from Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. CEI is committed to support European integration through the promotion of regional cooperation in various areas of intervention outlined in its tri-annual Action Plan. In its Action Plan 2014-2016 CEI identified two priorities to which the project contributes: “Sustainabl Economy and Development” and “Inclusive Society”. 
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KONETT Team is a consulting and training firm partnering with organizations from various sectors. During 17 years of operation we have worked with more than 100 partners and more than 4000 people. KONETT Team supports organizations mainly with change management, organization and business development, project consulting and mentoring, training. We have worked in big international projects supported by the EU and other donors. We have been active in social sector projects for more than a decade. We think we can contribute to the success of SENTINEL project with our practice of enterprise support that entails business planning, mentoring, capacity building and change support.

We initiated a new service called Change Clinic for managers and leaders, the promo video - an animation - can be seen here.


Fund 05's role in the project is, among other activities, researching and mapping current state of support networks and initiatives with special focus on finance and investments. Together with PRIZMA, we will create cases connected to the Handbook and Toolbox needed for outstanding support of social enterprises. Afterwards we will contribute to pilot testing in Slovenia, specifically, in parts dealing with social business investment. We're excited about SENTINEL project because it gives us an opportunity for taking steps towards creating better support system for social enterprises.

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Foundation for Improvement of Employment Possibilities (PRIZMA) was funded with the purpose to improve competencies and employment possibilities of (un)employed, to match supply and demand on the local/regional labour market, to contribute to new jobs creation and to faster response to dynamic changes in the local/regional labour market.
Being one of the partners in SENTINEL, PRIZMA will pursue its goals in creation of new jobs through development of social entrepreneurship and social inclusion, with special focus on strengthening the support environment for social entrepreneurship and encouraging transfer of knowledge of experienced entrepreneurs to beginners.

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The Regional Centre of Social Assistance in Rzeszow (ROPS) is engaged in the development, updating and implementation of the regional strategy of Podkarpackie Region in the field of social policy. Our main goal is to popularize the idea of social entrepreneurship, build partnerships for the development of social enterprises, organize conferences and campaigns to promote this sector. ROPS will be involved in the pilot action coordinated by RRDA, in which experimental learning methods designed for potential social entrepreneurs will be tested. ROPS will also contribute to drawing up policy recommendations which will effectively address regional policies.

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Social impact

Social Impact’s team for transnational projects are pleased to be part of the SENTINEL, fostering the development of social entrepreneurship across the Central European region. The non-profit Social Impact gGmbH is Germany’s first social start-up incubator and runs currently more than 20 incubation programs in the field of social and inclusive entrepreneurship. SENTINEL has a European teamwork and the spirit for social innovation in Europe.

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SENTINEL is a transnational project, and already has a lot to tell in its name, about what the project staff will do in the next 3 years. Demographic changes have started in recent years (shrinking population, migration, brain-drain), increasing social segregation and disintegration, especially in rural areas, represent serious economic challenges for the countries of the Central European region. In these regions social enterprises, if they are helped by a supportive environment, can be real drivers of social inclusion and work integration.

While many of the emerging or operating social enterprises in these areas need longer incubation and specialized assistance, existing support structures seldom reach the most deprived territories and do not take into consideration local needs, e.g. lack of human resources, skills and isolation of these places. Sentinel can help here, first of all, as a guardian or a mentor to encourage these social enterprises, which in many Hungarian disadvantaged regions provide almost the only job opportunity for local people.

The main goal of the project is to reduce regional inequalities in the participating countries and to strengthen social enterprises, to be able to play a prominent role in their local economy.





3 years

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