Promoting social business at the local level: Pistoia Social Business City

Pistoia: the first Social Business City in Italy

Duration 2012 – 2014

Location City of Pistoia and Province of Pistoia

Partner Yunus Social Business Centre University of Florence( YSBCUF).

Funding  Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Pistoia e Pescia, Fondazione Un Raggio di Luce Onlus, Pistoia


What does “social business” mean?

A “social business” is a private enterprise that aims to meet social or environmental needs. Profits are used to expand the enterprise’s core business and/or improve the quality of goods and services delivered. Social businesses combine the efficiency and economic sustainability of for-profit enterprises with the environmental objectives of public and third sector entities.

General objective

The three-year program involved young people, various enterprises, civil society, and local administrators. Its aim was to raise awareness of social business and create an enabling ecosystem for efficient and sustainable social enterprises in the Province of Pistoia. Pistoia has since become the first Social Business City in Italy.


Our contribution

“Pistoia Social Business City” was officially opened in July 2012 in the presence of Nobel laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus. ARCO and the Yunus Social Business Centre University of Florence carried out the following activities:

  • Planning activities: developing the Social Business City Programme (link)
  • Training, seminars, and workshops: arranging events that addressed students and citizens who were interested in understanding social business
  • Mapping the activities of the “third sector” in the Province of Pistoia. Our mapping activities touched on several key issues, including management model, sector, legal form, financial sustainability, and the social innovation capability of third sector enterprises
  • Organizing networking events
  • Consultancy for the development of social businesses
  • Monitoring and evaluation of the activities: design and testing of questionnaires, data gathering, and analysis
  • Dissemination of results

Read more on our Social Economy Unit