The project “Mechanism for Enhancement of Synergy among Enterprises and Sustainability”, (MESSE), was approved on 16th of December 2011 by the Steering Committee of the European program INTERREG IVC.
The project seeks to improve the effectiveness of regional development policies for economic growth and quality of social entrepreneurs in Europe. To achieve this ultimate goal, the MESSE project has several sub-goals, among them:
- to improve the skills and knowledge of policy makers on certain matters such as national and regional schemes for supporting and promoting social entrepreneurship;
- to find out which regulations and measures enhance this sector as well as to identify unnecessary legal barriers;
- to allow policy makers to know the most relevant aspects of the legal framework and public policies developed in this sector by each country;
- to increase the capacity of policy makers and local stakeholders in the detection of social entrepreneurs’ needs and the identification of strategies and best practices encouraging the support and innovation of social entrepreneurs;
- to raise the number and type of tools available in each territory to promote social entrepreneurship models that meet the needs of the local community by identifying and testing of new approaches and the use of joint work and cooperation between sectors.
The project’s duration spans from 1 January 2012 until 31 December 2014 and its total budget amounts to 1,592,235.33 €.
The partnership involves nine countries and is made up of the following entities:
Veneto Region (Lead Partner, Italy); Decentralized Administration of Attica (Greece); Regional Ministry for Health and Social Welfare (Andalusia, Spain); Romanian Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, (Romania); Pannon Network Business Association (Hungary); Sofia Municipality (Bulgaria); Sweden East Region (Sweeden); Adult Education Centre of Hannover (Germany); and Community action Hampshire (United Kingdom).
The main project activities are divided into three parts that will be developed consecutively. The initial interregional analysis of the sector will be followed up by the identification of existing good practices related to public authorities and, finally, the project foresees interregional study visits and the creation of interregional expert groups to carry out a pilot action. The involvement of local stakeholders and the transferability of the project are paramount aspects considered by the partnership.
The key innovative element of the MESSE project which makes the difference from many other initiatives conducted in the past is the fact that this project puts a policy focus on the social economy sector in an interregional perspective. For this reason, the MESSE partnership has identified the need for joint action and exchange of experiences among them with different strengths and needs so they could all actively learn from each other.
Precisely, the nine partners come from nine European regions, belonging to “new” and “old” Member States all local, regional and national authorities and opinion leaders with strong influence on their policy makers. This variety makes the project benefit from a rich exchange of experience process thanks to a wide geographical coverage and different levels of development of social entrepreneurship sector across the nine partner regions.
As stated before, the project’s activities as well as its different components (management and coordination, communication and dissemination, exchange of experiences dedicated to the identification and analysis of good practices and experimentation of the MESSE Net & Mentoring System) are built as a logical sequence where the elements follow each other rather that overlap; that’s to say, two predefined Components (Management and Communication) are continued by core component such as exchange of experiences and analysis of good practices that logically ends with transfer through the MESSE Net & Mentoring System.
In its early stage, the MESSE project will be based on basic level of cooperation, for instance traditional networking including activities such as study visits, thematic seminars, joint interregional conferences, development of project’s website, newsletters, brochures and production of good practice guides. Afterwards, the project will focus on a higher degree of cooperation, by means of putting a pilot action and a joint service in an online system of shared mentors into practice.
This pilot action will be based on experimentation through an Internet platform which makes it a quite unique method of transferring the knowledge and know how between the partners and a sustainable and efficient way of interfacing the Small and Medium Entreprises and other stakeholders in the target regions.
Also, by the end of the project, Implementation plans for each partner have been foreseen as another output of the MESSE project. The content of these Implementation plans will be the following: lessons learnt, policy recommendations and actions to be implemented in regional Convergence & Competitiveness programmes.
There are two main objectives in what it concerns the planned methodology of the MESSE project:
- Facilitating the effective interregional exchange of experience and Good Practices in order to improve the existing knowledge and policies and
- Maximizing the impact at local level and ensure that Implementation plans have wide consensus.
The participative methodology of the MESSE project, based on Action Learning Methodology, assures the effectiveness and the durability of the project’s results and ensures that the human and social capital that partners bring will form part of the exchange and learning process. The dissemination of project’s results will be made, among other means, throughout the project website, social networks, newsletters, interregional events and regional awareness raising and animation workshops.
Finally, it’s remarkable to point out that MESSE project implies a high value added since the growth in the sector of social entrepreneurs contributes to economic development of territories, taking into account the social return on investment, considered the monetary value of social, community and environmental aspects.