Designing Legal Frameworks for Social Enterprises

Practical Guidance for Policy Makers

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Increasingly, countries are recognising the contribution social enterprises make to economic and inclusive growth and sustainable development. While some form of legislation on social enterprises exists in 16 EU countries, and explicit policies or strategies to boost their development exist in the other 11 EU countries, policy makers recognise that legislation can help address current shortcomings and facilitate future social enterprise development. Based on consultations with more than 80 experts, policy makers and stakeholders from 10 European countries, this manual explains the rationale behind legal frameworks for social enterprises, identifies the critical factors for legal framework design and recommends actions to ensure legislation fully meets the needs of social enterprises. It lays out the fundamental steps related to the life cycle of legal frameworks and provides options that policy makers can use in the design and implementation process.


Executive summary

There is strong potential for social enterprises to promote and advance inclusive and sustainable growth and offer opportunities to many groups to create economic activities with social impacts. Social enterprises have grown in prominence and expanded their reach across the globe. However, their potential is still not fully exploited. Awareness and evidence need to be built around how legal frameworks, tailored or not, can effectively unlock this potential.


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