Monday December 7th, 2020 ARCO LAB

Enabling ecosystems for Social Enterprises and Social enterprises start-up in development projects

imprese sociali social business progetti valutazione ecosistemi facilitanti enabling ecosystems

Social enterprises promote and contribute to human development and sustainable development at the local level.

In particular they identify and offer solutions to social and environemental problems. social entrepreneurs develop new ideas and give life to innovative products, services or models by creating collaborations and partnerships with local actors. Thus, they are able to answer to needs that are not yet satisfied or completely resolved by existing solutions.

The Social Economy Unit  and the Yunus Social Business Center University of Florence, implement and participate in projects that aim at creating enabling ecosystems for the development of social enterprises and provide consultancy to future social entrepreneurs both in Italy and abroad. The M&E and Impact Evaluation Unit of ARCO evaluates the results of projects that are implemented by different organizations that aim to promote social enterprises.

Over the years, ARCO has gained multiple experiences both in terms of countries and areas of intervention. ARCO is involved in:

Fostering enabling ecosystems for the birth and dissemination of social business

• in Senegal with the project SB-Agroin

“Social Business and innovative development of the agro-industrial chain” (SB-Agroin) in the Thiès region is a three-year project that aims to increase food security and the income of small local producers through the development of the agro-industrial chain, the introduction of innovative production factors, the improvement of product transformation processes and their marketing.
ARCO has been involved to train the groups of aspiring social entrepreneurs and to encourage the birth of 3 social enterprises: one for the installation of Agritube systems for hydroponic agriculture; one for the installation of integrated systems (wells, solar-powered pumps, drip irrigation systems) and a third that will actually be a processing centre for fruits, vegetable and cereals run by a group of women belonging to a local associative network.

• in Palestine with the project “Start your Business”

“Social Business and innovative development of the agro-industrial chain” (SB-Agroin) in the Thiès region is a three-year project that aims to increase food security and the income of small local producers through the development of the agro-industrial chain, the introduction of innovative production factors, the improvement of product transformation processes and their marketing.
ARCO has been involved to train the groups of aspiring social entrepreneurs and to encourage the birth of 3 social enterprises:one for the installation of Agritube systems for hydroponic agriculture; one for the installation of integrated systems (wells, solar-powered pumps, drip irrigation systems) and a third that will actually be a processing centre for fruits, vegetable and cereals run by a group of women belonging to a local associative network.

• in Italy with the programme Pistoia Social Business City and the projects “Grow your Business!” and Youth & Social Business 

Within the Pistoia Social Business City Programme, the YSBCUF carries out two main activities.. The first,  “Grow your business!” supports the birth and diffusion of social enterprises in Pistoia and its surroundings by accompanying individuals or groups who intend to start a social enterprise.

The second, “Youth & Social Business”, is a training programme for high school students of Pistoia and its surroundings. The aim of the Programme is to disseminate social business theories to high school students and increase their capacity to develop their own social business idea.

Barcelona e Tayouan Social Business Cities

The Social Business City Programme, elaborated by the YSBCUF and ARCO,  operates locally, involving the whole community with a participatory approach by networking internationally. After implementing the SBC Programme in Pistoia, ARCO and YSBCUF promoted the birth and offered technical support for the implementation of two programmes in Spain and Taiwan: Barcelona Social Business City and Taoyuan Social Business City.

• in Nepal with the market analysis for the project SPEED for life

The project “SPEED for life – Spices and sEEDs value chain improvement for rural development in Nepal, enhancing women and youth empowerment” aims to foster the agricultural productivity of small local farmers in the districts of Kavrepalanchock and Sindhupalchock through safe and equal access to land and productive resources. The project also aims at increasing farmers’ knowledge of financial services, markets and opportunities in order to make their businesses economically sustainable.
Concerning this second purpose, ARCO is carrying out a market analysis to allow small producers of spices, fruits, vegetables and seeds to access national, and potentially international, markets. Among the objectives of this research there is the creation of social enterprises set up by local producers in conjunction with farmers’ cooperatives. ARCO’s research group will participate in organizing training sessions on marketing and packaging, on drafting business plans and commercial plans but wll also promote B2B and B2C events, aimed at strengthening business contacts and creating a new local network.

• in Palestine with the project Let’s Start Up

The project “SPEED for life – Spices and sEEDs value chain improvement for rural development in Nepal, enhancing women and youth empowerment” aims to foster the agricultural productivity of small local farmers in the districts of Kavrepalanchock and Sindhupalchock through safe and equal access to land and productive resources. The project also aims at increasing farmers’ knowledge of financial services, markets and opportunities in order to make their businesses economically sustainable.
Concerning this second purpose, ARCO is carrying out a market analysis to allow small producers of spices, fruits, vegetables and seeds to access national, and potentially international, markets. Among the objectives of this project there is the creation of 2 social enterprises set up by local producers in conjunction with farmers’ cooperatives. ARCO’s research group will participate in organizing training sessions on marketing and packaging, on drafting business plans and commercial plans but wll also promote B2B and B2C events, aimed at strengthening business contacts and creating a new local network.

• in Liberia with the project DASU

The project “SPEED for life – Spices and sEEDs value chain improvement for rural development in Nepal, enhancing women and youth empowerment” aims to foster the agricultural productivity of small local farmers in the districts of Kavrepalanchock and Sindhupalchock through safe and equal access to land and productive resources. The project also aims at increasing farmers’ knowledge of financial services, markets and opportunities in order to make their businesses economically sustainable.
Concerning this second purpose, ARCO is carrying out a market analysis to allow small producers of spices, fruits, vegetables and seeds to access national, and potentially international, markets. Among the objectives of this project there is the creation of 2 social enterprises set up by local producers in conjunction with farmers’ cooperatives. ARCO’s research group will participate in organizing training sessions on marketing and packaging, on drafting business plans and commercial plans but wll also promote B2B and B2C events, aimed at strengthening business contacts and creating a new local network.

• in Tanzania e Mozambique with two  market analysis for a social enterprise and scoial cooepratives

ARCO carried out two market researches: one for the social enterprise of farmers named Pemba Verde in Mozambique and the other for two possible social enterprises of tanners and leather artisans in Northern Tanzania. The project aimed to encourage the birth of an alternative and self-sustainable economy; in the Tanzanian case the research was focused on the creation of social-enterprises run by Maasai women who deal with tanning and leather handicraft.
While in Mozambique the goal was to enhance the variety of local products thanks to the adoption of new cultivation techniques suitable for the environment and to promote the economic sustainability of the Pemba Verde social enterprise.
In all cases, ARCO conducted a products and market analysis for the targeted social enterprises in order to quantify the potential demand, customers favourite characteristics and the recommended selling price. ARCO also drafted business plans and recommendations on how to achieve or improve their economic sustainability.

Between 2013 and 2016, ARCO coordinated a European project focused on enabling ecosystems for the birth and diffusion of social business:

EFESEIIS – Enabling the Flourishing and Evolution of Social Entrepreneurship for Innovative and Inclusive Society

ARCO coordinated the project EFESEIIS, that included 11 other European research centres and universities. The aim of the project was to identify the factors that contribute to the birth, development and spread of social enterprises and to disseminate their existence among European organizations and citizens.
Among other activities, the research group has developed  an analytical scheme for the definition of an enabling ecosystem for social enterprises at European level. The scheme’s aim was to explore the relationship between social enterprises and the ecosystem drawing on the Capability Approach.
The main results of the project were the identification of a framework for analyzing ecosystems for social enterprises and the drafting of policy recommendations to encourage the development and spread of social enterprises at European level.

Evaluation of projects that foster the development of social enterprises 

ARCO’s research teams are also involved in the evaluation of projects at local and international level. In particular the centre was involved in:

• Outcome harvesting for the project BADAEL in Lebanon 

The project “Building Alternative Development Assets and Entreprenurial Learning” (BADAEL) aims at promoting social stability and community resilience by enhancing the communities’ understanding of socio-economic opportunities and resilience assets, in order to strengthen the individuals’ skills to identify and engage in innovative sustainable solutions, while promoting social entrepreneurship as a mechanism for civic engagement.
Within this project, social enterprises have been created to stimulate young people’s engagement. The goal was to exploit the innovative assets typical of social entrepreneurship to increase the skills and opportunities for developing new ideas to solve local socio-economic problems.
To identify, analyze and interpret the project results, ARCO conducted an outcome harvesting of the project.

• Mid-term evaluation of the project MEdUp! in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon

MedUp! is a four-years project that aims at promoting and fostering the creation of an enabling ecosystem for social enterprises in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon. More specifically, the project aims to improve the inclusiveness of the labour market towards young people and women.
To verify the actual ability of the project to achieve these objectives, ARCO carried out the mid-term evaluation.
The mid-term evaluation began with a first phase of data collection through online questionnaires, semi-structured interviews and participatory methods such as structured focus group discussions aimed at beneficiaries and partners of the project. The results of the data collection have been analyzed and validated through moments of collective and participatory discussion. Finally, some of the social enterprises  experiences were deepened through specific interviews and the drafting of case stories.

• Mid-term evaluation of the project Peace Steps

MedUp! is a four-years project that aims at promoting and fostering the creation of an enabling ecosystem for social enterprises in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon. More specifically, the project aims to improve the inclusiveness of the labour market towards young people and women.
To verify the actual ability of the project to achieve these objectives, ARCO carried out the mid-term evaluation.
The mid-term evaluation began with a first phase of data collection through online questionnaires, semi-structured interviews and participatory methods such as structured focus group discussions aimed at beneficiaries and partners of the project. The results of the data collection have been analyzed and validated through moments of collective and participatory discussion. Finally, some of the social enterprises  experiences were deepened through specific interviews and the drafting of case stories.

• Mid-term and final evaluation of the project PAISIM in Senegal

The programme PAISIM (Programme de soutien aux entreprises sociales et à l’Initiative des migrants dans les régions de Saint-Louis, Louga et Thiès – PAISIM) provided support for social enterprises and initiatives of migrants in the regions of Saint Louis, Louga and Thiès in Senegal. It also aimed to support rural micro-entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial initiatives originating from migrants in collaboration with local institutional and financial actors. The project also envisages the development of a rating system to allow micro-enterprises with social and environmental value to access credit, and the launch of an investment fund for certified companies.
ARCO carried out the mid-term and final evaluation of the project by developing an evaluation methodology and data collection tools that were able to include all beneficiaries, operators and project partners.

To know more

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Discover more on our Social Economy Unit

Monitaggio e valutazione di impatto impact evaluation monitoring ricerca arcolab arco consulenza

Public institutions, government agencies, enterprises, associations, NGOs, and foundations need to evaluate the impact of their activities in order to increase their quality and effectiveness.

Discover more on our M&E and Impact Evaluation Unit

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