Social economy network Czech Republic
The EQUAL Community Initiative (Priority 2: Entrepreneurship) was the only programme in the Czech Republic that – within its areas of support – spoke explicitly about social economy and that supported activities in the field of social entrepreneurship.
- National Thematic Network B – Incorporation Process and Development of Individual Entrepreneurship - brought together projects that focused on supporting enterprise by disadvantaged persons (i.e. women after maternity leave, persons aged over 45, persons with disabilities, graduates etc.), which is the principle of social enterprise.
- National Thematic Network C – Strengthening the Social Economy, in particular community services, brought together projects that were aimed at strengthening the social economy in the Czech Republic.
In June 2007, the National Expert Group for Social and Economic Activities (NESEA) was established, whose members are the representatives of some development partnerships associated within the NTN C and some invited experts dealing with social economy (representatives of the EQUAL project no. 82 Support for the Establishment and Development of Cooperatives, representatives of the academic sphere and of some foundations). As part of NESEA’s activities, there was first a debate on the ideal form of social economy in the context of the EU and then the discussion focused on the applicability of the European model under the conditions existing in the Czech Republic. The main output of the group’s work was the definition of the principles and standards of a social enterprise, which must be met by every social enterprise regardless of legal form. The group also prepared proposals of the definitions of other terms.
This is a complex of autonomous private activities implemented by different types of organizations, which are aimed at serving their members and the local community – above all through enterprise. Social economy is oriented towards addressing the issues of unemployment, social cohesion and local development. It forms and develops based on the concept of triple bottom line – economic, social and environmental benefits. Social economy allows citizens to get actively involved in regional development. While generating profit/surplus is desirable, it is not the primary goal. Any profit is used in preference for developing the organization’s activities of for the needs of the local community. Internal relations in social enterprises are oriented towards the maximum involvement of members/employees in decision-making and towards self-management, while external relations strengthen social capital. The legal form of social economy entities is not decisive – what is crucial is that they pursue publicly beneficial objectives that are listed in their statutes. Social economy entities include social enterprises and organizations that support their activities in the areas of education, consulting and financing.
Through independent business activities and participation in the market, social entrepreneurship addresses the issues of employment, social cohesion and local development. Its activities support solidarity, social inclusion and growth of social capital, in particular at local level, while fully respecting sustainable development.
A social enterprise is understood as ‘an entity in social entrepreneurship’, i.e. a legal entity, a part thereof or a natural person that fulfils the principles of a social enterprise; a social enterprise must have an appropriate trade license.
A social firm is a competitive business entity operating on the ordinary market, its purpose is to create employment opportunities for persons that are significantly disadvantaged in the labour market and, to that end, provide them with adequate psychosocial support. (Fokus).
In 2009, the Thematic Network for the Development of Social Economy (TESSEA) has been newly established in order to support social economy and social entrepreneurship. This opinion platform, whose purpose is to promote the concept of social economy and social entrepreneurship in the Czech Republic, will bring together and jointly represent the interests of its members and supporters. These include both organizations and individuals that want to support the development of social entrepreneurship in the Czech Republic. TESSEA is an opinion platform of legal and natural persons who recognize the foundations, importance, influence, priorities and characteristics of social economy and want to jointly promote the development of social entrepreneurship in the Czech Republic. It has no legal personality – in order to promote its objectives, it uses voluntary initiatives of its members, possibly also projects and other instruments whose carriers are specific members. TESSEA’s mission is to promote the concept of social economy and social entrepreneurship under the conditions existing in the Czech Republic, in particular through creating and developing a model of infrastructure for its development, including awareness raising, education, support, financing and exchange of experiences at national and international levels, and through promoting it within concepts, strategies and policies.
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