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Strategien für die Zukunft - Entwicklung sozialer Unternehmen in NRW  
 
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Coordination: FAF gGmbH

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DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIAL ENTERPRISES IN NORTH RHINE-WESTPHALIA

The importance of social enterprises, especially of social firms which work to improve the chances of disadvantaged individuals on the common labour market, has increased during the past few years. The trend of establishing these enterprises has not been affected by the weak economy. An important reason for this is a legal initiative passed by the federal government. The fact that social firms clearly focus on the creation of jobs makes them attractive partners for political players of the labour market. From May 2002 until May 2005, new approaches and strategies are being tested which are to promote the sustainable development of social firms. This project is being funded by the community initiative "EQUAL", the European Community (www.equal-de.de) as well as equalisation fees collected by the Rhineland and Westphalia-Lippe Regional Councils (www.lvr.de/www.lvr.org). The Federal Ministry of Economics and Labour is responsible for implementing the project on a national level.

Seven social firms and several expert projects have been co-operating in this DP since May. Their objective is to achieve lasting economical stability for social firms through a more in-depth co-operation with regional enterprises of the common labour market. During the course of the project, the diverse, regionally varying experiences will be evaluated and analysed so that other social firms can integrate advantageous co-operation factors into their business strategies.
Social enterprises (that closely co-operate with other businesses of the common labour market) can and should prove that business strategy and social commitment are not contradictory terms and that equal co-operation relationships can provide lasting economical and social advantages for everyone involved. The experiences gained during this project can and should provide other entrepreneurs, be they heads of social firms or of purely commercial enterprises, with the ideas and know-how necessary to actively look for and develop co-operations which can help them make meaningful use of synergy effects on the market.

As members of the regional economy, social firms carry great social responsibility by employing a very large share of individuals with disabilities. It is increasingly becoming more significant to co-operate with other companies of the free economy. This project allows social firms to develop new models of co-operation for social and private enterprises and thus strengthen their integration potential.
> Company projects

In order to continue to increase the quality of the social enterprise model, barriers on the path to integration must be overcome and its regulatory framework improved. This can happen with the support of
> Expert projects