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Programme for the Internationalisation of the Third Social Sector and Social and Cooperative Economy of Catalonia

From EPSA - European Public Sector Award

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The third social sector and the social economy have a remarkable presence in Europe. According to the European Commission, there are 2 million social economy enterprises (i.e. 10% of all European businesses), which employ over 11 million paid employees (the equivalent of 6% of the working population of the EU). It is also an important sector in Catalonia, which accounts for 2.8% of the region’s GDP. It comprises 6,800 organisations, 2.1 million users, 102,000 workers and 300,000 volunteers.

The third social sector in Catalonia has an excellent track record. A large number of social and cooperative companies have appeared in Catalonia over the last 30 years. Most importantly, they have been working in partnership with the public sector in order to provide services to disadvantaged or special needs groups (e.g. children and young people with social difficulties, older people, people with disabilities, economically disadvantaged women, etc.).

Although these services have been provided on a local basis, the skills and experience of the Catalan third social sector are valuable enough to be reproduced in other countries. By doing so, it can extend its services and also transfer its knowledge and successful social intervention models to other regions and countries. This is the rationale behind the Programme for the Internationalisation of the Third Social Sector and Social and Cooperative Economy of Catalonia, which is implemented by the Catalan Business Competitiveness Support Agency (ACCIÓ) in partnership with the Platform of the Third Social Sector of Catalonia.

The programme is intended to promote the internationalisation of Catalan third social sector organisations and social enterprises in order to strengthen their business activities and to make use of the full potential of their knowledge and expertise in addressing societal challenges. The programme is therefore addressed to maximising the impact of the third social sector and social economy from both an economic and a social perspective at a local and international level.

In order to achieve the proposed objectives, the programme undertakes specific measures based on four pillars:

  1. Raising public awareness and identifying third social sector organisations with potential for internationalisation.
  2. Capacity-building activities to upgrade the organisation prior to initiating the process of internationalisation.
  3. Advisory services ranging from support in redefining organisational business models to custom projects run through their Trade and Investment Offices worldwide.
  4. Direct action with exploratory missions in countries in which opportunities have been identified.


In conclusion, the programme tackles several issues at a time:

  1. Local organisations can offer their services abroad while strengthening their position locally.
  2. The experience and know-how of Catalan organisations can be transferred to other regions. The programme itself can also be transferred.
  3. Social cohesion can be reinforced (in line with the objective of inclusive growth envisaged in the Europe 2020 Strategy).
  4. The Catalan economy can increase its openness.
Award info
Award category: the public sector as partner for a better society - european, national and regional level
Award type: diploma
Award year: 2015
Project type
Sector: cross-sectoral
Type of activity:
Keywords: Third social sector, social economy, internationalisation, social cohesion, empowerment, inclusive growth
Short English description: The programme is intended to promote the internationalisation of Catalan third social sector organisations and social enterprises in order to strengthen their business activities and to make use of the full potential of their knowledge and expertise in addressing societal challenges.
Further information
Organisation: Catalan Business Competitiveness Support Agency (ACCIÓ)
Other applicants:
Homepage:
Level of government: regional level
Size of organisation: >100
Number of people involved: 1-5
Country: Spain
EU membership: EU member
Language code: en
Start date:
End date:


Programme for the Internationalisation of the Third Social Sector and Social and Cooperative Economy of Catalonia (41.3975422, 2.157649200000037)
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