The rate of unemployment among young people in Italy, Spain, and Greece remains particularly high. In some cases, half of people under the age of 25 are not in training or employment. Many social entrepreneurs have based their business ideas on bringing people into work and supporting them in their search for employment. Since 2014, around 20 of these social entrepreneurs from across Europe have been able to bring their ideas to Italy, Greece, and Spain within the scope of the project "This Works! Ideas and Solutions for Employment and Recovery in Southern Europe." In this way, around 1,500 new jobs have already been created. At the final meeting of This Works! in Brussels, the social entrepreneurs presented the results to representatives from politics, economics, and civil society, introduced their projects in workshops, and exchanged views on how to successfully transfer social innovation abroad.
With his company Team U, Attila von Unruh provides consultation for people in Germany who are at risk of insolvency - he supported the setup of a corresponding pilot project in Greece. In her social enterprise Boutique de Gestion, founded in 1979, Frenchwoman Danielle Desguées has gathered consultation services for business founders and has now forwarded these to local partners in Italy and Spain. In her project "Third Age/Failte Isteach," Mary Nally from Ireland capitalizes on older people and brings them together with migrants as language instructors. A partner from Italy has adapted her concept. This transfer of social-entrepreneurial ideas was handled by Ashoka Europe and Ashoka’s international offices; the Robert Bosch Stiftung funded the project to the amount of almost one million euros.
"Social enterprises are a key factor in implementing the social and employment agenda in the EU," said Marianne Thyssen, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills, and Labour Mobility, in her welcome address at the final meeting. "Now more than ever, we need entrepreneurs who dare to develop business ideas with the aim of achieving positive social effects and societal changes."
At the end of the This Works! project, a handbook was created that lists the most important policy recommendations and contains ten factors for success in transferring social innovation abroad. This includes, among others, focusing on the core idea of a social enterprise, carefully selecting the right partners and searching for consultants in a new country, taking consideration of local conditions, and equal exchange between social entrepreneurs and their partners abroad. Ultimately, they want one thing above all: achieving positive, sustainable social change through their business ideas - and giving others long-term job prospects.