In October 2015, the OECD Secretariat launched a call through its website, national and international networks, and the European Commission’s Expert Group on Social Entrepreneurship, to collect policies, programmes, and initiatives aiming to support social enterprises. In collaboration with the European Commission, the Secretariat developed a list of criteria, with the goal of selecting policies, programmes, and initiatives that: i) supported social enterprises as defined by the Social Business Initiative; ii) illustrated approaches in the various policy areas of the social enterprise ecosystem; and iii) allowed for a balanced geographical coverage across European Union Member States. Another important criterion was to reach beyond established initiatives and include less well-known or prominent initatives, to further nurture and complement existing work by the OECD, the European Commission and some dedicated networks, such as the Social Enterprise Network. Lastly, cases that could demonstrate both systemic impact in supporting social enterprises effectively, as well as a potential for replication in different contexts, were prioritised.

The OECD Secretariat undertook an initial screening of the policies, programmes, and initiatives gathered through the call. As a result of this screening, 48 of the 73 cases received in total, were selected for further examination. An informal advisory group of five external experts, the OECD, and the European Commission, assessed and discussed the remaining cases based on a detailed grid prepared by the OECD. The OECD Secretariat and the EC services also reached out to their expert networks, to address gaps in the geographic coverage and diversity of the policy areas this compendium aimed to reflect. The delegates participating into the OECD LEED Directing Committee were also consulted. As a result of these outreach activities, 20 cases were finally included in the compendium. Each case study was prepared by external experts in co-operation with the OECD Secretariat, which co-ordinated the entire process.