TSocial economy and social entrepreneurship are identified as factors of social and economic cohesion across Europe, contributing to the construction of a pluralistic and resilient economy. They create jobs, provide innovative products and services and promote a more sustainable economy, while contributing to the integration of democracy into economy and environmental protection. They also create new perspectives and hopes for the future and help citizens regain control over decisions that affect their lives. It is a common belief that the development of the sector of social and solidary economy in Greece and Albania inherently has the potential to form simultaneously an important factor of the crisis exit strategy and the local /regional development, a significant source for job maintenance and creation and -finally an effective catalyst in reshaping the economic and social fabric of each country. The cross-border area of the program has a long history of cooperatives and communalism which has so far not been acknowledged as a development lever to the extent that it should. The main factor holding back the development of social entrepreneurship in the regions of Epirus and South Albania is the lack of financial- investment tools. The problem is maximized as social entrepreneurs in very few cases have own funds while they are practically excluded from bank lending through systemic banks. In contrast to the above, as a comparative advantage of the region is the significant presence and intense activity of national-local organizations which have helped the ties of expatriate Greeks and Albanians with their place of origin to remain active, creating a peculiar volunteerism. This form of volunteerism and offering is activated through actions that have to do with the support of the place of origin and the people who continue to reside in it. Alongside, local communities are able to fund innovative social entrepreneurship efforts with a direct positive impact on local communities. The main difficulties that have been identified in relation to the above could be summarized as follows:
-There are no financial tools that can ensure the legality and transparency of funding and which will not be burdened with excessive taxation or bureaucracy
-Innovative social entrepreneurship ideas cannot be easily known or they are unable to become mature in technico-economic terms and therefore cannot convince for the feasibility of the venture leading to many questions on behalf of potential donors /investors /supporters
-There is no reliable and flexible mechanism to monitor and ensure that all resources are being exploited for the purposes they were meant for and to substantiate the reasonableness of the cost
The proposed project:
-Studies and records the supply for support of social economy initiatives and the demand for such form of support at local level
-Studies and creates hybrid financing tools that are characterized by transparency, low administrative costs and reliability and which can be applied at local level. Under the project, there will be pilot application of these tools for financing 8-10 social ventures.
-Brings together social entrepreneurs with potential sponsors /supporters /investors and acts as a facilitator in order through the use of an appropriate financing tool to have a harmonious and effective cooperation
-Implements advisory, training and capacity building actions to support social entrepreneurs to ripen their ideas and also to be able to present to sponsors /supporters /investors a comprehensive, documented and costed proposal
-Creates a flexible and reliable mechanism that can monitor and ensure that all resources are being exploited for the purposes they were meant for, which will operate even after the completion of the project
-Evaluates the social impact of the proposed social economy and entrepreneurship projects
-Also creates non-financial support tools
Concerning the selection of partners, strong emphasis was given on issues such as:
-Expertise in social economy and social entrepreneurship, counseling support and experience in networking and social capital mobilization projects (Auleda and SOCIETY 3/3).
-Scientific knowledge on issues of financing tools creation and training - counseling support (University of Ioannina & University of Vlora)
-Representation of local government and ability to activate the local society (Municipality of Chimara, Municipality of Arta)