In 2011 the European Commission launched a Social Business Initiative, this initiative was followed up by a study on social enterprises in 28 EU Member states and Switzerland. This study is a first of its kind that outlines the main social enterprise features and is using common definitions and approach.
It is concluded in the report the Social Enterprises are important for sustainable growth and looking for solutions of socio-economic and environmental challenges, but only few European countries have policy frameworks that encourage and support these enterprises.
The study also identifies major barriers that social enterprises are facing:
- Poor visibility and recognition of the sector
- Constraints of current legal and regulatory frameworks
- Limited financial resources
- Difficult access to markets
- Lack of business support and development structures, training, and workforce development
The study also proposes a new definition of social enterprise being an
“autonomous organization that combines a social purpose with entrepreneurial activity.”
It is stated that structures are under-developed and fragmented in various countries, but that social enterprise policy is currently under development in seven countries nonetheless.