The terms social entrepreneur and social entrepreneurship were used first in the literature on social change in the 1960s and 1970s. Even though there are few social enterprises throughout history, it is relatively new and popular concept. Social enterprises are important because they are nonprofit and they aim to have social impact on public, support economic development and improve wellbeing in general.
EU single market model is based on “highly competitive social market economy”. This means an open economy which creates space for pluralism of business models to develop and grow. Social economy in Europe engages over 14.5 million paid employees, equivalent to about 6.5% of the working population of EU-27 (EU Commission, Social Europe Guide Vol. 4, 2013). However, EU desires this social economy become greater, stronger and more competitive. Therefore social enterprises should constitute more space in EU economy. Number of entreprises in this sector also differs for every country. In terms of numbers, UK (875.555) and Germany (513.727) solely host nearly half of social enterprises in EU. France and Czech Republic host 6,81% and 3,6% of social entreprises in EU (Ciriec International, 2012). In this context Turkey, Macedonia as candidate countries stay way behind the EU avarage. Awareness and knowledge (training/learning materials and education institutions) on social entrepreneurship is also very limited.
EU also gives social entrepreneurship importance in parallel with Europe 2020 Strategy. The European Commission has adopted Social Business Initiative action plan as part of a package of measures entitled the Responsible Business Initiative on 25 October 2011. The Commission proposed several priority measures, split into 3 groups: Improving 1) the access to funding for social businesses 2) the visibility of social businesses 3) the legal environment of social businesses.
These measures were taken due to problems in sector of social businesses and social enterprises. Due to lack of access to additional fund mechanisms because of lack of knowledge, it is hard for new enterpreneurs to establish a new social business as well as increasing capacity of existing enterprises. A tailor made methodology will allow entrepreneurs to aware and make them competent to benefit from the opportunities EU and other sources provide. However that kind of tailor made intellectual materials are scarce and costly. Management and entrepreneurial skills are also crucial at this stage for benefiting the external funds for establishing new enterprise and building capacity of existing enterprises.
Visibility and raising awareness to social entrepreneurship are also important. Creating networks, collaboration among different partners and promotional events will help to raise awareness and strengthen cooperation for further projects and/or enterprises. Creating public opinion by raising awareness and visibility activities will also compel policy makers to make necessary regulations.
Knowledge gap on this subject and way of work of a social enterprise especially among young people also causes contradictions in terms and prevents potential new social entreprenurs to join the market. However EU recognizes social enterprises as innovative,social impact driven, environmentally and economically conscious. This features can be brought best to an enterprise by young people.