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ECOSOCIAL - Project to support the inclusive development of deprived areas through Social Economy Enterprises


Many deprived areas in EU Member States need social enterprises to help them escape from poverty and neglect. Most business are concerned largely with making money for themselves and their shareholders, and have limited interest in helping to develop the areas or the communities in which they operate. In contrast, social enterprises focus primarily on social objectives and reinvest their profits into the business or the community. Such companies are vital to create a more inclusive society in which the needs of the disadvantaged are given rightful importance.

ECOSOCIAL is part of the Inclusive Growth arm of INTERREG IIIC’s GROW programme. It is aimed at the development of social enterprises dedicated first and foremost to delivering social and environmental benefits. It also plays its part in supporting the EU objectives of increasing competitiveness combined with sustainability, by helping to make social enterprises themselves more competitive.

The project is led by the Province of Piacenza in Italy’s Emilia Romagna region, working with a partner in the southern Spanish region of Andalucía. It sets out to develop tools for social economy enterprises that would widen the knowledge base of these companies, with particular attention to organisational and management instruments, franchising opportunities, spin-offs, consortia and joint ventures. It also aims to boost the international profile of social enterprises.

The partners have staged study visits and conducted comparative research on social enterprises in the two regions, extracting from this research the five best practice elements that could most readily be replicated between the regions. Existing social enterprises have exchanged best practice and experience to increase their own performance.

ECOSOCIAL has created a website to share knowledge and experience and a handbook of best practice. It has produced two models of support and advice for social enterprises and rolled them out in both regions.

“We are happy that we managed to achieve all the outputs and carry out all the activities planned for the project,” said Anna Pirillo of Piacenza province. “We believe it will help to develop the social economy of our deprived areas.”

The results of the project’s research and activities will be available to all EU regions through the website and the handbook is being distributed throughout partner regions and beyond.

“Social enterprises are vital to create a more inclusive society in which the needs of the disadvantaged are given rightful importance.”


Maurizio De Bernardi
Provincia di Piacenza
Piazzale Marconi – Borgo Faxhall
29100 Piacenza

Tel: +39 (0)523/795505