Social Return on Investment: Enhancing knowledge and skills for social impact
According to the European Commission, DG Growth – Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, a major proportion of the EU's economy relates to the profit-oriented companies. However, there has been an increasing number of individuals and legal entities working in the fast growing social economy. This envelops various types of cooperatives, mutual societies and other social enterprises, non-profit associations, foundations, and civil society organizations. They operate a very broad number of commercial and non-commercial activities and provide a wide range of products and services across the European single market. Moreover, they generate millions of jobs. According to the EU statistical data, 2 million social economy enterprises operate in Europe which represents 10% of all businesses in the EU. More than 11 million people – about 6% of the EU’s employees – work for social economy enterprises. Moreover, these entities are the main generators of social innovation as their main objective is the economic, societal or environmental impact for the general interest. Inclusive business models, such as the ones mentioned above, target (working with/for) low-income people both as consumers and clients, and as producers and entrepreneurs. Through their services and products, they offer a prospect with the immediate impact on the population with fewer opportunities. This kind of initiatives could have more comprehensible visibility by utilization of the SROI approach and will be able to provide awareness, skills, and tools to social economy enterprises and individuals to present the value they create in a form which can be measured and valued in financial terms – monetization. Moreover, SROI can aid the process of improvement of the access to funding, visibility and/or optimization of the legal environment, such as public procurement policies.
The aim of the project is to increase the awareness and understanding of SROI as an impact measurement approach, improve the evidence base of impact created by social enterprises, nonprofits, public institutions and companies, and improve the transparency in reporting on their impact.
This aim will be achieved by specific objectives:
to provide - develop, test and pilot - an innovative educational and training programme based on real needs skills assessment of staff members as well as organizational practices related to practicing social returns on investment;
to create and pilot educational ICT platform for continuing and self-guided learning/training process
The SROI has wide application and as such it involves working with wide range of stakeholders and target groups among which are mid-line managers and board members of private companies, especially those interested in undertaking an SROI analysis, members of the civil society, particularly those interested in improving practice and take-up rates, and public authorities dealing with procurement issues and planning public investments.