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Austrian Social Enterprise Monitor (ASEM) 2021/2022

The Austrian Social Enterprise Monitor 2021/2022, the largest and first international study on social enterprises in Austria to date, presents new findings and facts on this topic:

Important findings from the 2021/2022 report:

15 Facts about Social Enterprises in Austria

Social enterprises in Austria

1 … pursue social and ecological goals. Health, reduction of societal inequalities, humane working conditions as well as education are some of the most prevalent Sustainable Development Goals. More than half of the businesses (52,3 %) either entirely or additionally go after ecological goals.

2 … are working for the common good. More than 92,0 % of enterprises who make statements about their distribution of profits say that they put most or the entirety of their profits back into their business to achieve the underlying mission.

3 … are serious about impact. More than 92,5 % perform impact measurement or plan to do so in the near future.

4 … are predominantly startups. 51,2 % of enterprises have been founded in the past ten years, 34,9 % are in early development stages (“Seed-”, “Startup-” or “Early Development Stage”).

5 … are innovators and also surprisingly tech-savy. 84,9 % started their organization with an innovative approach, 72,9 % plan to develop new products and processes within the next year. Rather surprising: more than half use new technologies like apps, artificial intelligence and virtual reality in their work.

6 … use different types of legal forms. Most of them start as a registered associations (46,9 %), GmbHs (35,3 %) or individual companies (12,0 %). One in nine enterprises combines different legal forms to account for the duality in their organizations mission.

7 … are located in all federal provinces. Most of them are located in Vienna (54,5 %) followed by Styria (11,4 %), Lower Austria (11,4 %), Upper Austria (9,8 %) and Vorarlberg (4,1 %).

8 … are female. More than 75 % of Founding partners are either female or mixed. 50,8 % of the company management and 46,0 % of founders are women. The share of women in our sample of social enterprises is much higher when compared to commercial startups and other publicly listed companies.

9 … rely on a mix of revenue streams. 12,8 % of businesses can solely rely on market sources, while 17,8 % are fully dependent on non-market revenue sources – most of them (69,5 %) have a mix of these revenue sources.

10 … are inclusive employers. On average they employ 72,4 people (full-time equivalent, median: 5). The organizations in this survey alone employ roughly 18.640 people. Almost two-thirds employ people from a variety of ethical backgrounds and more than a third enable people with disabilities to gain employment.

11 … have actively tried to help during the COVID-19 pandemic – while struggling themselves. 64,0 % have still been able to reach their beneficiaries by digitalizing their services, developing new services entirely or by shifting resources. 15,6 % have indicated that they themselves have suffered from the economic consequences of the pandemic and were limited in their ability to reach the beneficiaries.

12 … face financial challenges. Only 24,4 % have indicated to be profitable in the last year, while 21,0 % made a loss. Losses are especially frequent in companies that are in early development stages.

13 … face different obstacles. Survey respondents name complex funding, a lack of private as well as public financing, too little awareness and staff shortage as some of their biggest challenges.

14 … observe a lack of political support. Only 7,4 % are satisfied or very satisfied with the political support of social enterprises. This value is very small especially compared to international data. When looking at data from 13 countries, Austria is only in the 11th place in terms of perceived political support.

15 … have big ambitions. Almost 90,0 % plan to scale their services by developing new products, forming new partnerships, focusing more on marketing or by expanding to other regions. More than half of the enterprises (51, 5 %) plan to scale through the employment of new people within the next 12 months after the survey.

Funding & Outreach Partner

Policy & Outreach Partner

Outreach Partner


Dr. Peter Vandor

Peter Vandor

Head of Social Entrepreneurship Center, Senior Researcher
Responsibilities: Co-founder and Head of the Social Entrepreneurship Center. Research: Social entrepreneurship, migrant entrepreneurship, mental wellbeing and internationalisation among social entrepreneurs, civil society in CEE Founder of Social Impact Award.