Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and the World Economic Forum have just published the report “Unlocking the Social Economy – Towards an Inclusive and Resilient Society” to show the many ways in which the social economy, based on social innovation, can contribute to solving some of the greatest challenges of our time while at the same time contributing to job creation and economic activity. The report was made in collaboration with Deloitte.

The actors in the social economy have social and environmental impact at the center of all their activities, and they work in many different sectors.

Although they have great potential for creating a positive impact, actors in the social economy also face barriers that prevent them from unleashing their full potential. These actors are very different in different regions around the world, but still they have a number of common barriers such as a limited visibility, lack of a supportive legal and regulatory framework, and limited access to markets.

In that light the rapport Unlocking the Social Economy introduces concrete measures to deliver in two areas that can help unlock the potential that actors in the social economy face.

1) Promote the existing social economy actors by developing a supportive ecosystem.

This can be done by:

  • Recognizing social economy actors and creating supporting regulatory frameworks.
  • Creating incentives for financing and investment so that social economy organizations can more easily access the funds they need.
  • Improving education and research in social innovation, to increase the visibility of the social economy and thereby attract expertise and talent.
  • Designing public and private procurement policies so social  enterprises have better access to markets.
  • Collecting and publish data on social impact

2) Using the potential of the social economy to transform the broader general economy into more value-driven one.

This can be done by:

  • By adopting a framework for accountability, taxonomies for social reporting and more involving business and management models, social economy actors can contribute to systemic changes of our current economic model and its challenges.
  • Social economy organizations that are making the necessary transitions now can help accelerate the existing economy towards a more inclusive, sustainable future. This can help avoid billlion of costs that we might otherwise have to deal with if we do not ensure greater social cohesion, tackle systemic inequalities and mitigate the effects of climate change.

The report is based on a systematic review of over 100 independent academic articles and reports on the social economy as well as social economy actors in different countries, supplemented by interviews with experts, policy makers and practitioners. Three  rounds of consultancy have also been conducted with the Working Group on Unlocking the Social Economy, hosted by the World Economic Forum’s Global Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship.

The hope is that the report could serve as a starting point for dialogues that address regional and national challenges around the world. And the goal is that it can help promote action by raising awareness and actively discuss the political opportunities that exist globally, regionally and locally to reduce common barriers that prevent actors in the social economy from reaching their potential.

Download the full rapport here