Researchers develop Western Balkans social enterprise network

13 March 2015

Dr Simone Baglioni

Dr Simone Baglioni

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) is developing an international mentoring network to stimulate new research into the perceived challenges and opportunities for employment of marginalised groups by social enterprises in Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo.

In a 16-month project funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, GCU researchers will work with organisations in the Western Balkans, including NGOs, research centres and think tank Reactor, which is facilitating Macedonia’s EU integration process through new research and active working with the policy community.

The ‘Challenges and Opportunities for Employment of Marginalised Groups by Social Enterprises’ project will support local research projects in these organisations through GCU’s expertise in the areas of youth employment and social entrepreneurship in the Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health.

Dr Simone Baglioni will lead the project to stimulate new research capacity in the field of social enterprise through conferences, research methodology and design workshops, and assistance on research outputs and publications.

The group aims to establish if social enterprises could offer an opportunity for employing vulnerable and marginalised groups to help tackle high unemployment rates, low participation and increasing social disparities in the selected countries.

Funded through the Regional Research Promotion Programme for the Western Balkans, which is run by the University of Fribourg upon mandate of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the organisations will map the social enterprise models in Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo by identifying, classifying and comparing them, as well as analysing the institutional processes that underlie them.

The GCU research team - Dr Baglioni, Dr Stephen Sinclair, Michael Roy, Neil McHugh and Clementine Hill-O’Connor - will feed the findings from this research into its existing EU FP7-funded research project which is using evolutionary theory to identify and explain how social businesses and enterprises develop and grow.

GCU is currently working with the University of Florence, alongside ten other European partners, on the three-year-study, Enabling the Flourishing and Evolution of Social Entrepreneurship for Innovative and Inclusive Societies (EFESEIIS), which will investigate the characteristics of an ‘enabling ecosystem’ for social enterprises and businesses which improve social inclusion.

By 2016, EFESEIIS aspires to give all the key information to a wide range of stakeholders – from policy makers, financial organisations, and local authorities to individuals – to remove the barriers preventing from the growth of social entrepreneurship and support its development worldwide.

Dr Baglioni says: “The new mentoring project shows that GCU is really building research capacity in this area at international levels. This is a new area of focus for these countries as with the democratisation process, there has been a new focus on creating a genuine civil society. This research aims to create employment and social inclusion, as well as positively influencing policy making in the Western Balkans.”