© British Council

Social enterprises employ business approaches to address social and environmental problems and enhance their communities. They combine the entrepreneurial approaches and trading methods of the private sector with the social mission and public values of the voluntary and public sector. They provide one important way of tackling Europe’s current economic and social challenges, especially among young, unemployed and disadvantaged populations.

We support the development of social enterprise to help build a more inclusive, sustainable and prosperous future in Europe. We partner with social enterprise networks and organisations across Europe to raise awareness as well as bring together key stakeholders to share experiences, discuss policy and provide access to UK expertise.

Driving the debate forward

We convene international policy dialogues to share experiences and formulate recommendations for governments seeking to build supportive eco-systems for social enterprise. These initiatives showcase UK best practice and innovation in the sector and build connections across borders between social entrepreneurs, intermediary organisations, investors and policy makers.

We also commission publications that address current and specific issues in social enterprise and social investment. These publications aim to provoke discussion and debate about the future of social enterprise.

Publication: What will Social Enterprise look like in Europe by 2020

We commissioned a vision paper called, ‘What will Social Enterprise look like in Europe by 2020?’ which was presented at the European Commission’s event Social Entrepreneurs: Have your Say in Strasbourg 16–17 January 2014.

The paper was based on a series of interviews with social enterprise experts in the region. It offers an opinion of where social enterprise might be heading in the coming years in Europe.

Skills training - Our Shared Future project

The British Council, in partnership with the Cisco Entrepreneur Institute, ran the Our Shared Future skills training project in February 2013. 

A select group of social entrepreneurs from Europe and North Africa were given the chance to complete an online business planning course. The course included live tutoring from highly qualified trainers.

After completing the course, the entrepreneurs attended a mentorship event, where they received peer-to-peer advice and consulting. The project was designed to maximise their skills, business opportunities and success as start-ups.

You can learn more below about 'Our Shared Future' by listening or reading presentations from the event.

Our Shared Future presentations

  • Francesco Grillo - Managing Director of Vision and Value, Presentation: The end of the leviathan and the rise of the self organising community
  • Ehaab Abdou - Fellow of Ashoka Innovators for the public, Presentation: Social Entrepreneurship in North Africa (see pdf below)
  • Helen Vines - Trainer and Social Enterprise Business Adviser, Presentation: Badges and Processes for Social Enterprises
  • Madeleine Gabriel - Programmes Director Shared Intelligence, Social investment: Trends, concepts and best practice