Growing Social

The proposal for the project«Enhancement of social entrepreneurship through the establishment of support structures in the CB area» Project Acronym “Growing Social” was submitted in the framework of the 2nd Call for Proposals under the European Cooperation Programme “Interreg V-A Greece-Bulgaria 2014-2020”, Priority Axis 4, Specific Objective 9: To expand social entrepreneurship in the cross border area.

The partnership involves five beneficiaries, three from Greece and two from Bulgaria

Municipality of Pilea Hortiatis

Beneficiary 2 - Management and Administration Authority Technopolis Thessalonikis SA

Beneficiary 3 - Municipality of Rudozem

Beneficiary 4 - Local active group Zlatogerad – Nedelino


Brief Description of the Action Plan for Social Entrepreneurship.


Program Title: Enhancement of social entrepreneurship through the establishment of support structures in the CB area

Acronym: Growing Social


  • Lead beneficiary: Municipality of Pilea Hortiatis
  • Beneficiary 2 - Management and Administration Authority Technopolis Thessalonikis SA 


  • Beneficiary 4 - Municipality of Rudozem
  • Beneficiary 5 - Local active group Zlatogerad – Nedelino

Duration: Its duration is 24 months from 31.10.2017-30.10.2019




Recent years have seen an increasing interest in social enterprise (hereafter SE) across Europe, strongly driven by a growing recognition of the role SEs can play in tackling societal challenges & fostering inclusive growth. In Greece, SEs received a boost in recent years, thanks to the growing pressure on social services, lack of employment opportunities, and the legal framework introduced by Law 4019/2011, establishing the legal form of a social cooperative enterprise. However, SEs are not (yet) part of the economic agenda for long-term structural change and economic development in Greece, and their potential for creating sustainable economic structures, strengthening social cohesion and driving (social) innovation is undervalued. In Bulgaria, although there are some entities that can be characterized as SEs (NGOs, cooperatives and social enterprises set up by municipalities) the term ‘social enterprise’ is not clearly defined by the national legislation & businesses that undertake explicit social aims are not yet well-developed in the country. A study conducted by the European Commission in 2013, which included semi-structured interviews with stakeholders in SEs, found that an important enabling factor for the development of SEs in Bulgaria & Greece is awareness raising among the wider public and education.
The project aims at promoting social entrepreneurship through raising awareness in the CB area and establishing support mechanisms for interested parties and new social entrepreneurs. In the short run, beneficiaries will establish two Local Offices for Social Entrepreneurship (one in Greece and one in Bulgaria) and an Incubator for start-up social enterprises in Greece for two Social Enterprises, while they will develop an interactive helpdesk which will be available online. Moreover, more than 100 participants will take part in educational activities (seminars and study visits), while awareness activities will directly target over 600 people (through conferences, open days, workshops & networking fairs) and even more indirectly by various mass media actions. However, in the long run the impact of the project will exceed outputs described in the present application form. The cultivation of a culture of social economy among young people, the structures and tools which will continue to operate after the end of the project, the transfer of knowhow across the borders and the conclusions driven by the studies will not only result in fostering SEs but also they will contribute to increase economic and social activity in the CB area. 
The innovation & added value of the project lies in the fact that this is the first time that a social incubator will be established in the CB area & an online interactive guide will be developed. Since SEs in the CB face similar challenges, the CB approach of the project with the exchange of knowhow between PBs can provide a holistic solution and boost development in both sides of the borders.


Beneficiaries of the project.


Direct beneficiaries are, in principle, the existing social enterprises and their executives, as well as students of second and third level education. Indirect beneficiaries are also members of vulnerable groups on both sides of the border region.


The main outputs of the project.


The project foresees a series of outputs which build the capacity of PBs in promoting social entrepreneurship.
WP3:PBs will establish support mechanisms for Social Entrepreneurship, (2 Local Offices & a startup incubator). Prior to their operation, PB1 and PB4 will elaborate a Master Plan for their operation based on the needs of each area, supply the necessary equipment, hire 2 employees for 18 months & 12 months respectively and train them accordingly. Monitoring will be carried out by the relevant departments of the 2 municipalities and through quarterly reports. Additionally, employees at the offices will receive business plans submitted by interested parties, assess them and provide feedback. The evaluation procedure will result to incubation for the 2 best business plans (GR) & a study visit for 20 participants (BG). PB2 will be responsible for providing incubation for 12 months & the development of an online interactive helpdesk with online tutorials & consulting tools. PB1 will organize a Success Stories day in Thessaloniki (100 participants) with speakers from CB area & abroad.      
WP4:PBs will elaborate good practice guides for new social entrepreneurs and organize seminars for beneficiaries. PB2 will investigate fund opportunities for SEs and will establish a network of incubators. In BG, a networking fair will be held between existing SEs and young unemployed people. PB3 & PB4 will organise seminars in Thessaloniki and Zlatograd for new or potential SE.
WP5:PBs will proceed with the evaluation of the project (PB1&PB4) & the contribution of social economy in meeting social cohesion in the CB area (PB3&PB5). 
WP2:awareness will be raised, according to the strategy developed in the communication plan, by the following outputs: project website, social media campaign, publicity material (leaflets,brochures,poster etc), actions in Mass Media (radio spots,e-banners, press releases), 3 open conferences & 2 videos.


Expected results of the project.


The project follows a holistic approach for supporting and promoting Social Entrepreneurship in the CB area. Social Growing will achieve the establishment of fully functional support mechanisms for SE which can lead to an increase of SEs and to a public discussion on the issue in the CB area. During the implementation period, two SEs will be established and receive incubator services such as consultancy (at least 5 members in each SE), coaching and mentoring, while more than 100 will receive training.  Beneficiaries involved in these actions will have a better chance of running a successful SE since they will gain a fundamental insight in operating a SE and the necessary knowhow. The 2 new SEs will be supported by PB1 by PB1 outsourcing to them some of its activities. Awareness actions such as interactive workshops for 300 student will promote positive attitudes towards social entrepreneurship among young people while other publicity tools (newspaper and radio adds, conferences, e-banners) address to a wider audience of potential beneficiaries in the CB area. In the long term, the project will contribute to boosting the local economy and increasing social inclusion and cohesion through services provided by the new SEs that will be established with support received by the project. PB1 have also decided to support the new SEs that will be developed in the frame of the project by outsourcing some of its activities (with its own resources) after the end of the project. 
The expected results of the project are in line with the results indicators of the Programme, which refer to the number of employees working in the SE. This will be achieve in two ways: first of all new SEs will employ staff (at least 5 members are required by Greek legislate in order to establih a SE) and secondly, networking provided by the local offices and the fair that will be organized in BG will help existing SE hire unemployed or underprivileged people. 

Intervention area.


The events, activities and deliverables of the project will be carried out strictly in the area of the eligible Programme and, in particular, in the cross-border 2 Regions,   Region of Central Macedonia, and Region of South  Smolyan area, and the cities Thessaloniki & Smolyan.