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Social Entrepreneurship as an Alternative to Youth Unemployment, also known as So-VET, is a project that addresses NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training) and youth unemployment through the development of social entrepreneurship, making it an alternative for unemployed youth.

The main objective of So-VET is to upgrade and enhance Vocational education and Training (VET) provisions in social entrepreneurship. So-VET enables VET institutions to implement innovative courses in the subject that are practical and support the creation of social enterprises by youth. Social Enterprise has the potential to reenergise young people and integrate them into the labour market. This handbook contains the outcomes of the project as well as the methodology behind each of these.

So-VET resulted in 5 outputs that enable VET institutions to create and upgrade their provisions for social entrepreneurship courses. These are Need Analysis Report, Curriculum for Young Entrepreneurs, Guideline for the integration of the curriculum in existing national VET programmes, E learning platform and Memorandum of Understanding. The Handbook on Improvement of Social Enterprise collates these outputs into a guide that enables the reader how to implement the project, or elements of it, in order to improve the Social Entrepreneurship ecosystem in their community, region or country.

Needs Analysis Report

A Needs Analysis enables a project to be tailored exactly to the needs of its target group. Therefore, it should be the first step in any project aiming to develop social entrepreneurship provisions. During the first six months of the So-VET project, a comprehensive and wide-reaching Need’s Analysis was conducted. This took place in the six partner countries (Macedonia, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Sweden and the United Kingdom), through three levels: Literature review, Questionnaires and Interviews. The results were integral in developing a curriculum that was to the level of NEETs in these countries, by matching their previous knowledge about business, social entrepreneurship and different learning methods they enjoy.

So-VET’s Needs Analysis reached a total of 336 NEETs across the six partner countries. The main findings of the analysis were:

  1. The demand of an educational programme that offers practical examples. This would help engage NEETs with social entrepreneurship
  2. The largest challenge for entrepreneurs is access to finance, particularly for NEETs, whom by nature do not have a stable income. This requires development in networking skills, financial practices and business plans.
  3. The legal knowledge is scarce among young people, particularly in countries such as Macedonia and Turkey (where there is no specific legal form for social enterprises).
  4. Elements of marketing, such as marketing planning, strategy and social media, were considered to be very important. Marketing enables enterprises to reach more customers and thus increase their income.
  5. As far as tools and methods are concerned these reports concludes that most NEETs are greatly in favour of using e-learning platforms and tools over traditional leaning methods.

To access the full Needs Analysis Report, please follow this link.

Curriculum for Young Entrepreneurs

Training program of the So VET project is prepared in collaboration with all project partners and aims to contribute to development of the social entrepreneurial skills of the youth in vocational education and training. The entire training program is approximately 600 hours of study and can be spread over 6 months. It must be emphasized that the curriculum is flexible. Individual learners can begin the course at the stage they see necessary for their situation. This enables the course to be highly individualized.

  • The course introduces young people to both the theory and practice of social entrepreneurship. The general objectives of the course are to:
  • Foster their entrepreneurial motivation, skills and mindset.
  • Awareness of the various aspects of starting up and running a successful business and social enterprise – legal, financial, managerial, leadership, marketing, etc.
  • The inspiring experiential learning journey is based around tasks, missions and challenges, through which the young people will develop the basic knowledge, skills and mindset, required to become social entrepreneurs.

Training materials of So VET project consists of 9 modules and a success stories part. Third module focuses on legal framework of social entrepreneurship in partner countries. There are evaluation activities and learning activities in most of the modules. The entire training content is uploaded to the project website as an open online course freely available for anyone. The Description of modules are as follows;

  • Module 1: Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship
  • Module 2: How to Start A Social Enterprise.
  • Module 3: Legal Framework.
  • Module 4: Creating a Business Model for Social Enterprises.
  • Module 5: Marketing.
  • Module 6: Fundraising and Attracting Investors.
  • Module 7: Business Management.
  • Module 8: Business Finance and Economics.
  • Module 9: The Business Plan.
  • Success stories of Social Enterprises

To access the full Curriculum, please follow this link.

Guideline for the Integration of the Curriculum in Existing National VET Programmes

The training content of So VET is to be used in vocational education and training. As the country reports on current situation of social entrepreneurship in existing VET curriculum indicates there are no courses in VET regarding social entrepreneurship in partner countries except from the UK.  This situation raises the importance of this work which is planned to prepare guideline in order to find the most convenient ways of injecting the prepared training content into national VET programmes in partner countries. Series of strategic seminars were held by the partners of So VET in order to identify the steps needed to be followed from the inception of a curriculum to its final integration into national VET curriculum as well as the most effective methods and procedures for the integration of curriculum in existing national VET programmes. In each country, the steps are different from each other since the structure of education systems and VET system are different in partner countries.

Key experts and directors from VET centres, academicians from universities, and experts from NGOs are invited to these seminars. Most of the participants find the content well-prepared and suitable for various ages and levels of educations. On the other hand, some of them have doubt if some definitions and explanations are suitable for youth. There is no common answer on how to integrate the content of So VET into existing VET curriculum. Moreover, seminars have shown that it is a very difficult process to change national VET curriculum in most of the partner countries due bureaucratic difficulties.

In some partner countries it is suggested to integrate the content via VET teachers of entrepreneurship or economy courses since they have the freedom and flexibility to modify their lessons by adding extra topics such as social entrepreneurship. This is the easiest and fastest way of integrating the content into national VET curriculums in partner countries. It is also suggested that partner institutions can become a certified training centers in order to offer social entrepreneurship courses. Other suggestions provided by partners require long time and following complicated procedures but the result of these suggestions is very useful since they can allow the content to be used nationwide. 

To access the full Guidelines, please follow this link.

E-learning Platform

An e-learning platform was developed for the needs of the project. The Needs Analysis confirmed that an e-learning platform was an attractive learning proposition for young people. NEETs are thus able to attend the pilot on-line courses and receive training from a distance so as to enable the active participation of individuals from different regions who are not always able to be physically present to workshops/seminars/events. The e-learning platform provides with the open on-line courses, will include an area of Community of Practice for open discussions and exchange and will also include an e-library with important and relevant resources. These open on-line courses are available for VET trainers and staff. The partners also provide further support through selected mentors (as was recommended during the pilot).

To access the full E-learning platform, please follow this link.

Memorandum of Understanding

In the So-VET project, another output developed was Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The purpose of this Memorandum of Understanding is to set forth the understandings and intentions of the Parties signing this agreement with regard to single, shared and complementary goals for the promotion and sustainability of results developed within the context of So-VET Project, with specific focus on European Curriculum for Social Entrepreneurship. For this main purpose, two different versions of MoUs have been developed by the output leader MAKRO; Multilateral MoU and Bilateral MoU. While the first one was prepared as it is to be signed between only project partners, the latter was prepared as it is to be signed between each project partner and at least two organisations (VET providers, professional associations, policy makers, public and private adult training centers).

Signed documents are developed in order to help achievement of the expected impacts of So-VET Project on the target groups, national VET systems and policy makers at national level. The Parties will singly or jointly promote and/or use the methodology, curriculum and other materials developed throughout the project.

Please click here to display the handbook. 

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