SOCIAL SEEDS final conference: “AGORADA2019 Exploiting the full potential of social enterprises”

According to the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) there are 2,8 million social economy enterprises and organisations in the European Union, which employ 13,6 million people and account for 8% of the EU’s GDP. Social economy refers to a diversity of subjects, such as cooperatives, mutuals, associations, foundations, paritarian institutions of social protection, and of course social enterprises that are united by common values and characteristics, such as primacy of people over capital, democratic governance and reinvestment of most the profits/surpluses to carry out sustainable development objectives.   

Social enterprises are agents of inclusive growth and democratisation of the economic and social spheres. They combine social goals with entrepreneurial activity while addressing socio-economic challenges in innovative ways.

In order to discuss deeply about the role of social enterprises in our societies, the SOCIAL SEEDS consortium organized its final conference “AGORADA2019 Exploiting the full potential of social enterprises” in Brussels last 26 and 27 March.

Since 1992, AGORADA is the name of the spring event organised in Brussels by EURADA, one of the partners of SOCIAL SEEDS, to bring regional practitioners to learn and cooperate. The topic of the AGORADA2019 conference was social enterprises in order to achieve the biggest possible specialised audience for the final conference of the SOCIAL SEEDS. The event gathered 146 participants, composed mainly by high qualified experts on regional economic development.

To bring high impact to the SOCIAL SEEDS final conference, EURADA established a partnership with three main European networks of regions and local authorities working with social economy: 

- The interregional partnership of smart specialisation on social economy composed by 6 regions, supported by ReConfirm (DG GROW European Commission)

- The association Social Economy Europe as a member of the European Network of Cities and Regions for the Social Economy (REVES) partnership of the Smart Specialisation Platform established in the framework of the industrial modernisation platform of smart specialisation supported by the European Commission (DG GROW).


The appealing agenda of the conference attracted specialised experts from public authorities because it was composed by practical experience of peers (two of them from the SOCIAL SEEDS project), one expert from the United States, presentations from social enterprises, two members representatives of the expert committee of the European Commission on social Economy (GECES) and speakers working in EU organisation: European Investment Bank (EIB) and four speakers from the European Commission (DG JUST, DG EMPL and DG GROW).


The partners of the SOCIAL SEEDS project got public and institutional exposure in the international conference acting as:

  1. as speakers (Jakab Aron from IFKA, Jakub Karp and Agata Ziemiakowicz Regional Development Agency Rzeszów),  
  2. as moderators (Dr. Victoria Blessing from Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum and Esteban Pelayo from EURADA). 

Jakab Aron, talked to the wide audience about the MarketMate programm designed to comprehensively boost business and social impact capacities of social enterprises in Hungary. It was identified as Interreg best-practice to support social enterprises to access to finance due to its innovative design. MarketMate coherently assesses and provides advise to social enterprises on both dimensions: the business and the social one, before funding projects with expected social benefits and economic sustainability.


Jakub Karp and Agata Ziemaiakowicz, indeed, explained how the Rzeszów Social Economy Support Centre (ROWES) operates in the organisational frame of the Polish Rzeszow Regional Development Agency. ROWES is an outstanding example of structure able to address all relevant stages to support social enterprises: from the business idea to the business development. ROWES offers: - animation; - incubation; - business services; - training and study visits; - financial assistance; - specialised consultancy; and a - school of leaders of the social enterprise sector.  


During its final conference, the Social SEEDs project consortium gained a wide visibility at EU level and this dramatically expanded the dissemination and exploitation capacities of the project results of social SEEDS especially amongst regions and regional development agencies so as to enhance the quality of policies and programmes EU wide on the subjects social innovation, social economy and social enterprises.

The purpose of “AGORADA2019 Exploiting the full potential of social enterprises”, in fact, was to learn and share regional experiences on the support of social enterprises and it was achieved for 146 participants. Here you can see the picture taken during the event.