A significant portion of the European economy can be classified as social economy. The social economy, also known as the fourth sector, can be defined in a variety of ways, but in essence it consists of a variety of organisations that use market mechanisms to pursue explicit social objectives. Through these types of organisations, social goals, reciprocity and solidarity are reinserted into economic thinking and decision making.

There are over 2 million social economy enterprises in Europe, representing 10% of all businesses in the EU. Social economy enterprises consists of a variety of different organisations, such as cooperatives, mutual societies, non-profit associations, foundations and social enterprises. These organisations employ over 11 million people. An important and growing group of social economy enterprises are social enterprises. Their main objective is to have a social, societal or environmental impact for the general interest.

The social economy plays an important role in the transition towards sustainability, resource efficiency and a greener economy. Social economy enterprises can have sustainability central to their business models, a goal beyond profit. These enterprises can also help ensure that the transition towards a green economy does not reinforce inequality and insecurity.

In this edition of EREK Quarterly, read our interview with Mathieu Rama, environmental policy officer of RREUSE, an international network of social enterprises that put service to the environment and community at the heart of their activities in re-use, repair and recycling (page 2-3); practical examples from companies (page 4); information on public-funded support programmes related to social economy (page 5) and many other relevant tips and information.

Read the EREK Quarterly #5!

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