- 20 | 12 | 2016
The transformative power of the social entrepreneurship to address challenges not as problems but as opportunities and bring innovative solutions to them is crucial for the civil society. The universities and enterprises, as engines of innovation, have the mission to equip young people with the right skills, knowledge and attitudes to drive innovation forward. The transversal competences, required in social entrepreneurship and innovation have to become mainstream – not only for students in business studies, but also for those in humanities, arts, sciences and technologies.
Despite the positive impact that social enterprises have on their communities and the European economy and society in general, education and training on social entrepreneurship and the social economy is still largely absent from the classrooms.
Of the 30.6 million people who were self-employed in EU in 2013, only 9.6 million were women and 774 000 were youth. Eurostat and GEM data show that two-thirds of young people and women in EU believe they do not have the knowledge or skills to start a business.
The report “Entrepreneurship in higher education, especially within non-business studies” confirms that the lack of entrepreneurship skills is one of the most significant barriers to business creation and emphasizes that the majority of Entrepreneurship courses are offered in business and economic studies, so in fact most students have no possibility of taking part in entrepreneurial courses and programs.
Pilot initiatives across Europe provide evidence on the numerous benefits for students in scientific and technical studies, Arts and Humanities who participate in entrepreneurial training, summarized in the EC report “Effect and Impact of Entrepreneurship Programmes in Higher Education”: “Entrepreneurship education has a positive impact on the entrepreneurial mindset of young people, their intentions towards entrepreneurship, their employability and finally on their role in society and the economy.”
The OECD study “The Missing Entrepreneurs 2015: Policies for Self-employment and Entrepreneurship” shows examples how social groups that are disadvantaged or under-represented in entrepreneurship and in the labour market (women, youth, elder, minorities and immigrants), can be supported to set up a business or become self-employed.
Investing in entrepreneurship education is one of the highest return investments Europe can make, the Entrepreneurship Action Plan 2020 stresses.
There is a clear evidence that the gender gap in social entrepreneurship is smaller in social entrepreneurship than the one in traditional, commercial entrepreneurship, because women are generally more altruistic and socially minded than men, and are more likely to found or manage an enterprise that has a social mission. (“Woman’s Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation”, OECD, 2015).
The Entrepreneurship Action Plan 2020 recommends that EU countries should offer a more targeted support for groups with the greatest potential, such as women and young people, boost entrepreneurial training for young people and adults in education and offer the opportunity to young people to have at least one practical entrepreneurial experience before leaving education, such as running a mini-company, being responsible for an entrepreneurial project for a company or a social project. “Education should be brought to life through practical experiential learning models and experience of real-world entrepreneurs.”
The Open Mind project aims to enhance access to entrepreneurial education and create equal opportunities in the labour market for groups (women and young people) which are disadvantaged and under-represented in entrepreneurship. The project will promote inclusive education in entrepreneurship, specially addressing women and young people from non-business studies, through a gamified open online platform in social entrepreneurship, which will:
• Improve access to entrepreneurship training for a large number of students and ensure that they have an opportunity to acquire entrepreneurial skills, start up and operate in business or self-employment, regardless of their personal characteristics and background. This will increase labour market participation and improve their standard of living.
• The course will increase students’ awareness about the opportunities, benefits and practices of social entrepreneurship and increase motivations to pursue these activities. The obtained competences will help students become more active members of the society and support future job creation.
• The project will address the gender gaps in entrepreneurship and will promote more gender-balanced career choices through attracting female students from different studies to social entrepreneurship. As OECD report “Woman’s Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation” shows, the gender gap in social entrepreneurship is smaller than the one in traditional, commercial entrepreneurship, because women are generally more altruistic and socially minded than men, and are more likely to found or manage an enterprise that has a social mission.
• The features of the game design (collaboration, sharing, feedback, awards, etc.) will help provide a highly participative and friendly learning environment, so that female students and those from non-business studies obtain generic entrepreneurship skills and more specific business competences, while solving specific social problems in supportive cross-disciplinary teams and competing for achieving better results.