Agency for the sustainability of social enterprises


A1 - Title in original language
Agenzia per la sostenibilità dell'impresa sociale

A2 - Title in English
Agency for the Sustainability of Social Enterprises

A3 - Location of GP (national)

A4 - Location of GP (regional)

A5 - Economic field of activity
S Other service activities

A6 - Ultimate purpose of GP
To improve social cohesion/inclusion
To enable cross sectoral working
To create or conserve employment

A7 - Spatial scale
Regional (large scale)

A8a - Start date
March 07

A8b - Anticipated end date (if applicable)
01/03/2009 (End of the funding, but the GP has continued)

A9 - Short description of the GP
L'Agenzia per la Sostenibilità dell'Impresa Sociale was launched as part of the Equal Project - Phase II "Osmosis - New Opportunities for Social Enterprises". Its purpose is to promote, facilitate and strengthen the synergies between for-profit enterprises, social enterprises and public entities by promoting and conducting research and marketing, raising awareness, and providing consultancy and support. Its activities aim to foster the development of local social enterprises and broaden the employment opportunities for disadvantaged people within them. The Agency provides services directly by using its own professional competences and indirectly by setting up networks and projects with entities, organisations and professionals. The Agency works with social enterprises, for-profit enterprises and public companies in the following areas:

  1. Social research and planning.
  2. Law and legislation.
  3. Marketing and promotion.
  4. Support for social and work integration.

A10 - Key words relating to the GP
Cross-sector synergy
Social Enterprise Development
Work integration
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

A11 - Objectives of the GP

  1. Promote new opportunities for disadvantaged people by strengthening synergies between social enterprises, for-profit enterprises and public administrations.
  2. Develop the innovation and competitiveness of social enterprises with consultancy, information and support.
  3. Guide and support the emergence of a new culture within social enterprises that will combine social aims with economic efficiency and effectiveness, which include providing real services to business.

A12 - Activities that have taken place
The Agency has introduced the following to achieve the aforementioned objectives:

  1. An information helpdesk, open every day, for social enterprises, public administrations and for-profit enterprises that are interested in finding out what a social enterprise is all about, e.g. Corporate Social Responsibility, legal and regulatory frameworks, social planning in Europe and Italy, and human resources.
  2. Informative and follow-up seminars geared towards local social enterprises and public entities.
  3. Information and promotion with a newsletter announcing tenders and covering issues of interest to social enterprises.
  4. Marketing and awareness-raising through meetings with public administrations, social enterprises and for-profit enterprises to promote synergies between stakeholders and to discover new jobs/services that can be entrusted to social enterprises.
  5. Consultancy for social enterprises to promote development and organisational innovation.

A13 - Achievements of the GP
During Equal's Osmosis Project, the Agency achieved the following results towards social enterprise sustainability; it opened a helpdesk for 400 hours; created a team of 35 expert consultants; organised 33 refresher and follow-up seminars; provided social enterprises regionwide with almost 500 hours of specialist consultancy; signed 5 concession agreements between social enterprises and public administrations (concessions included social clauses and required synergies between social enterprises and for-profit enterprises so that the social enterprises could take part); signed 2 agreements between for-profit and social enterprises to provide work integration for disadvantaged people (see Article 14 of Italian Legislative Decree DL 276/2003); published 10 articles in sector magazines and a monthly newsletter; and promoted an IT consortium comprising Type B social cooperatives and for-profit enterprises.


B1 - How has the GP impacted on the following?

B1a - Legal/financial exclusion
Neutral impacts
Any other comments?

B1b - Creation or conservation of local employment
Positive impacts
Any other comments?
The Agency has used promotion and awareness-raising strategies to identify new business areas covered by for-profit and public administrations in order to foster employment opportunities for disadvantaged people within social enterprises.

B1c - Adaptation to new realities
Very positive impacts
Any other comments?
The Agency has been involved with a range of organisations (public, private and social), which has enabled it to plan dedicated action and strategies in tune with enterprise requirements.

B1d - Cross sectoral working
Very positive impacts
Any other comments?
The Agency's partnership and staff have enabled the public, private and not-for-profit sectors to forge stronger links.

B1e - Enablement of social enterpreneurship
Positive impacts
Any other comments?
Some synergies between public administrations and social enterprises and between for-profit enterprises and social enterprises have enabled social enterprises to branch into new areas of business and to foster positive exchanges of know-how between for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises.

B1f - Amenities for local people
Positive impacts
Any other comments?
The Agency provides its services to social enterprises, for-profit enterprises and public administrations that are interested in the abovementioned issues.

B1g - Educational opportunities
Very positive impacts
Any other comments?
The beneficiaries of the Agency's services have received information, consultancy and expert support.

B1h - Crisis response
Positive impacts
Any other comments?
The synergies that the Agency has helped to build or strengthen have enabled social enterprises to broaden their areas of business. Furthermore organisational consultancy has enabled them to streamline some of their organisational processes, thus making them less costly.

B1i - Local financial environment for social enterpreneurs
Positive impacts
Any other comments?
The Agency has cooperated with a local bank to promote low-interest loans designed specifically for social enterprises.

B1j - Local policy environment for social enterpreneurs
Positive impacts
Any other comments?
The Agency has worked with some public administrations that have used legislation to promote the employment of disadvantaged people in their outsourced services, suggesting there is a political will to address the issue.

B1k - National financial environment for social enterpreneurs
Neutral impacts
Any other comments?

B1l - National policy environment for social enterpreneurs
Neutral impacts
Any other comments?


C1 - Is the governance of this GP fully inclusive?
Beneficiaries are highly involved in governance
Comments and learning points
Governance envisages the involvement of beneficiary representatives or of their representative association.

C2 - How influential has this GP been on local or national decision makers?
A little influence achieved
Comments and learning points
The Agency has moved in two directions:

  1. Awareness-raising and promotion to encourage meetings between social enterprises and public administrations (e.g. local councils, health authorities).
  2. Setting up informative seminars on the new regional regulations governing social cooperatives in a bid to attract social entrepreneurs and public administration employees and to provide them with an overview of the laws that clarify these regulations.

C3 - How much partnership work has been involved?
A great deal of cross sectoral partnership working
Comments and learning points
Nine partners are involved in the GP: Irecoop Veneto - Istituto Regionale per l'Educazione e Studi Cooperativi, Bassano del Grappa Health Authority (ULSS 3), Vicenza Health Authority (ULSS 6), Veneto Orientale Health Authority (ULSS 10), Banca di Credito Cooperativo del Veneziano, Confcooperative - Unione Regionale del Veneto, Emme&Erre S.p.A., Unioncamere Veneto, and the Department of Economics at the University of Padova.


D1 - Please describe how the GP communicated its experience and success to the public
The Agency has promoted and presented its work via a dedicated website, links in partner websites, newsletters, articles in sector magazines, a helpdesk, meetings with beneficiaries, and informative seminars. These means were effective as they employed a wide range of communication channels and thus involved a broad variety of stakeholders; it was more difficult, however, to involve for-profit enterprises, which were less receptive to the idea of integrating disadvantaged people in the workplace. Communication enabled the Agency to meet and cooperate with a range of stakeholders, as well as to plan initiatives based on the requirements of the stakeholders themselves.

D2 - Please describe how the GP communicated with local or national decision makers?
Communication with local decision-makers was fostered by the involvement of local public entities in the partnership. The informative seminars on legislation and meetings enabled the Agency to forge relations with additional public entities. In the start-up phase, the Agency set up a database of strategic public entities that it wanted to involve and these entities were periodically sent information on upcoming Agency events.

D3 - Are there any elements of this project that you think would transfer particularly well to other contexts?

  1. The legislation promoted by the Agency to foster the development of social enterprises and the work integration of disadvantaged people.
  2. The networks, as they encouraged stakeholders from different sectors to work together. These are aspects of the GP that can be easily and effectively transferred to other countries, in compliance with local legislation.


E1a - Total annual income of GP 2011/12
Not quantifiable

E1b - How is this made up?
The Agency was launched, and continues its work, thanks to European Union funding (Equal Phase II). Today, some services are supported with other forms of funding or the private contributions of social enterprises.

E1c - Details of human resources
The Agency's partners have provided 35 consultants, each one expert in a range of issues (e.g. law, human resources, CSR, communication and marketing, social balance sheets, reorganisation). There are currently about 10 consultants.

E1d - Details of technology
No investments have been made in technology. Start-up support (e.g. for the IT consortium) was consultancy-based.

E1e - Details of financial investment for start-up/early stage
No financial investments have been made.

E1f - Details of external support
All of the Agency's consultants were made available by Agency partners. No external support was envisaged for the Agency's founding partners. Today, for specific issues, some consultants are financed with public and private funding by the partners or social enterprises benefiting from their services.

E2 - If public funding were withdrawn, could the GP continue to exist?
The GP is no longer funded and it continues to run, although it is structured differently to the GP set up during Equal. Today, some GP partners still provide their services (e.g. informative and follow-up seminars for social enterprises, promotion and marketing with public administrations), but they are supported by public or private funding or by the contributions of the social enterprises benefiting from the service.


F1 - Who set up the GP? Partnership (please give details)
The Agency was launched by the partnership that was set up and consolidated as part of Osmosis (Equal Project Phase II).

F2 - Who runs the GP? Partnership (please give details)

F3 - Short description/comments
The Agency meets the requirements of social enterprises and provides its services by using the experts and resources made available by partners. Today the Agency has a lightweight structure based on a network of resources, competences and expertise provided by its partners.

F4 - Contact
Barison M. Franca
Irecoop Veneto
Via Savelli, 128
Telephone 0039 049 8076143
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


G1 - Photos (between 1 & 3)

GP6 AgencyfortheSustainabilityofSocialEnterprises

G2 - E documents
Flyer presenting the Agency activities in Italian
Detailed schedule of the Agency_eng

G3 - Any other useful information


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