What is social economy?

Social economy puts people before profits. It invests in people, in their capacities and creativity, and empowers them, creating quality jobs and providing training as well as prioritizing social objectives, like helping people far from the labour market access work.

In a market economy, enterprises are meant to generate a profit. They operate in the market, providing goods and services and looking for customers’ satisfaction. This is also true for the social economy. But the difference being that in a social economy, the profit gained goes toward meeting social objectives, not primarily toward generating individual wealth.

By prioritising social objectives, social economy contributes, in an innovative way, to tackling social, economic and environmental needs in society that have been overlooked or inadequately addressed by the private or public sectors. With this understanding in mind, Caritas are actively creating and implementing a variety of different types of social economy projects throughout Europe.

How does social economy work?

  • It invests profit into social objectives (i.e. via free professional training for unemployed people, including vulnerable people in the functioning of the enterprise, raising awareness on specific topics, etc.);
  • It creates spaces for participating and sharing ideas within a social economy enterprise;
  • It promotes cooperation, awareness and engagement among the community;
  • It contributes to protecting the environment.

What is the added value of social economy for the different actors involved?

  • Individuals are empowered as they learn about starting their own business. Others benefit from gaining access to more quality jobs and gaining a sense of community belonging.
  • Communities become more cohesive, since social economy can facilitate the development of inclusive local policies and contribute the common good of the local community.
  • The whole society benefits from innovative ideas and solutions that answer society’s needs and contribute to changing mind-sets.

Caritas helps thousands of people out of poverty and exclusion by supporting and running hundreds of social economy initiatives across Europe. It makes sense that social economy is one solution toward building a stronger, more cohesive Europe!

Social economy successes

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