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Eugenia Segerstedt
The role of social enterprises in the development of society has so far been underestimated, according to Eugenia Segerstedt. PHOTO: Staffan Westerlund View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Social entrepreneurship needs stronger support organizations

Published: 18 June 2021

Social entrepreneurship in Sweden has performed relatively well during the pandemic. But companies need more support from umbrella organizations and policy makers. These are the conclusions in an interim report on Swedish social entrepreneurship that has been written within the framework of a pan-European research collaboration.

Social entrepreneurship can be defined as activities where the goal is not primarily profit but to contribute to an inclusive and sustainable society.

The purpose of the survey of social entrepreneurship in Sweden has been to get an idea of who conducts social entrepreneurship, who they employ, how these companies have coped with the pandemic and what challenges they face. Most of the social enterprises that have responded to the report conduct their activities with the aim of integrating people who are far from the labour market.

Lacks support organizations

Many of the companies are newly started. Although they have managed the pandemic relatively well, they need more support from umbrella organizations and policy makers. France, and Germany in particular ,have more well-established support organizations than Sweden. Of the companies surveyed in Sweden, 70 percent are outside a support organization.

The survey of social entrepreneurship in Sweden has been carried out in the form of a questionnaire survey containing both fixed and open interview questions. In total, more than 200 respondents across the country responded to the survey. Some of the respondents have been screened out since they do not fall within the framework of the project's definition of social entrepreneurship. 149 respondents remained.

Good geographical spread

– Despite some statistical loss, we have a good geographical spread of respondents. This means that we have a fairly accurate picture of the situation for social enterprises in Sweden, says Eugenia Segerstedt, PhD in Human Work Science and author of the report together with Gloria-Karin López, junior project manager at Mötesplats social innovation at Malmö University.

Eugenia Segerstedt believes that the role of social entrepreneurship in the development of society has so far been underestimated and not sufficiently visible in Sweden.

– These are forces that can help solve various societal problems, including those mentioned in the global sustainability goals in Agenda 2030. More than half of the companies surveyed have helped in various ways in society's crisis management during the pandemic. They can contribute with small funds and are resilient, but they need more support.

The survey of Swedish social entrepreneurship has been conducet with Mötesplats social innovation (MSI) as a node. MSI is a national knowledge and collaboration platform for social innovation and social entrepreneurship and is now located at five universities: Luleå University of Technology, Malmö University, Jönköping University, Umeå University and Örebro University.

– Thanks to Mötesplats social innovation, we have a good breeding ground for developing knowledge about and contributing to better support for social entrepreneurs in Sweden, says Eugenia Segerstedt.