Exploring Social Enterprises in Armenia

Posted: 2017-10-27
Written by: EU Network
Category: Europe
Tagged: youth social entrepreneurship social entrepreneur europe erasmus+ business armenia

What is Social Entrepreneurship? What is a Social Entrepreneur? What are the differences between Business and Social Entrepreneurs? Why is social entrepreneurship important ?

Being an entrepreneur is associated with starting a business, but this is a very loose application of a term that has a rich history and a much more significant meaning. The term “entrepreneur” originated in French economics as early as the 17th and 18th centuries. In French, it means someone who “undertakes”. In the 20th century, the economist most closely associated with the term was Joseph Schumpeter. He described entrepreneurs as the innovators who drive the “creative-destructive” process of capitalism. In his words, “the function of entrepreneurs is to reform or revolutionize the pattern of production.” They can do this in many ways: “by exploiting an invention or, more generally, an untried technological possibility for producing a new commodity or producing an old one in a new way, by opening up a new source of supply of materials or a new outlet for products, by reorganizing an industry and so on.” Schumpeter’s entrepreneurs are the change agents in the economy, by creating new ways of doing things, they move the economy forward.




Visiting social enterprises in Armenia.

In the 2000s scholars and practitioners have debated which individuals or organizations can be considered to be social entrepreneurs. Thus far, there has been no firm consensus on the definition of social entrepreneurship, as so many different fields, disciplines and organization types are associated with social entrepreneurship, ranging from for-profit businesses to hybrid models combining charitable work with business activities, to non-profit charities, voluntary sector organizations and non-governmental organizations. Philanthropists, social activists, environmentalists, and other socially-oriented practitioners are often referred to as social entrepreneurs. Social entrepreneurs can include a range of career types and professional backgrounds, ranging from social work and community  development to entrepreneurship and environmental science. For this reason, it is difficult to determine who is a social entrepreneur.


Social enterprises combine societal goals with entrepreneurial spirit. These organisations focus on achieving wider social, environmental or community objectives.


Three Youth workers from Skrunda novads took part at Erasmus+ KA1 International mobility for youth workers ‘’Transcending the Reality and Progress’’ which took place from 9th to 18th October 2017  in Aghveran (Armenia).


27 participants from 11 countries (Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, Latvia, UK, Austria, Poland, Moldova, Netherlands, Belarus, Italy) gathered together to equip with social entrepreneurial competences and multiplying skills for further work with young people in their respective communities. International training course provided an opportunity for participants to get practical knowledge on how to develop and realize social enterprises also by meeting with some actors from the sphere in Armenia. Gained practical experience widened  their worldviews, and allowed to explore solutions for current challenges; as well provided a platform for an in-depth analysis and reflection on current opportunities and challenges in the sphere of social entrepreneurship. Participants had a chance to learn about social entrepreneurship key principles, as well to learn from peer to peer experiences and visit local social enterprises. Participants  had a chance to look deep into themselves, and to discover their own dreams by doing  a lot of practical work, for example, learning to prototype and present ideas, explore about crowd funding and various obstacles that they may face starting their social own enterprises.


“Social entrepreneurship” is a phrase well suited to our times. It combines the passion of a social mission with an image of business-like discipline, innovation and determination. The time is certainly ripe for entrepreneurial approaches to social problems.
What are social enterprises?
A social enterprise is an operator in the social economy whose main objective is to have a social impact rather than make a profit for their owners or shareholders. It operates by providing goods and services for the market in an entrepreneurial and innovative fashion and uses its profits primarily to achieve social objectives. It is managed in an open and responsible manner and, in particular, involves employees, consumers and stakeholders affected by its commercial activities.


The new language helps to broaden the playing field. Social entrepreneurs look for the most effective methods of serving their social missions.

Social entrepreneurship is :

• About applying practical, innovative and sustainable approaches to benefit society in general, with an emphasis on those who are marginalized and poor.
• A term that captures a unique approach to economic and social problems, an approach that cuts across sectors and disciplines grounded in certain values and processes that are common to each social entrepreneur, independent of whether his/ her area of focus has been education, health, welfare reform, human rights, workers' rights, environment, economic development, agriculture, etc., or whether the organizations they set up are non-profit or for-profit entities.
• It is this approach that sets the social entrepreneur apart from the rest of the crowd of well-meaning people and organizations who dedicate their lives to social improvement.

For social entrepreneurs, the social mission is explicit and central. This obviously affects how social entrepreneurs perceive and assess opportunities. Mission-related impact becomes the central criterion, not wealth creation. Wealth is just a means to an end for social entrepreneurs. With business entrepreneurs, wealth creation is a way of measuring value creation. This is because business entrepreneurs are subject to market discipline, which determines in large part whether they are creating value. If they do not shift resources to more economically productive uses, they tend to be driven out of business.


Despite diversity, social enterprises mainly operate in following fields:

• Work integration - training and integration of people with disabilities and unemployed people.
• Personal social services - health, well-being and medical care, professional training, education, health services, childcare services, services for elderly people, or aid for disadvantaged people.
• Local development of disadvantaged areas - social enterprises in remote rural areas, neighbourhood development/rehabilitation schemes in urban areas, development aid and development cooperation with third countries.
• Other - including recycling, environmental protection, sports, arts, culture or historical preservation, science, research and innovation, consumer protection and amateur sports.

Social entrepreneurship plays an important role in addressing social, economic, and environmental challenges while fostering inclusive growth, shared prosperity, and social inclusion. Moreover, social entrepreneurship contributes to job creation, especially at local level, as well as to democratic participation and improvement of welfare services delivery.


International Mobility for Youth Workers ‘’Transcending the Reality and Progress’’ was implemented within European Union program Erasmus+ KA1. Latvian partner for this implemented  Erasmus+ KA1 Mobility for Youth Workers ‘’Transcending the Reality and Progress’’ was Non  - Governmental organization ‘’Donum Animus’’.

Erasmus+ KA1 program provides opportunities for individuals to improve their skills, enhance their employability and gain cultural awareness. Beneficiaries are able to spend a period of time in another participating country gaining valuable experience of life, study and work with the aim of increasing the opportunities available to them in the future. Key Action 1 is the largest action in Erasmus+ with focus on increasing mobility and skills.


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