€20 million to support the European social economy

Social entrepreneurs tackle big societal challenges that benefit people and the planet alike — with sustainable business models.

In Europe, there are an estimated 2.8 million social enterprises that employ 13.6 million people and contribute to a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable economy. However, the pandemic has exacerbated some of the challenges these social entrepreneurs face, including existing inequalities and access to resources.

Which is why today, we’re committing €20 million in cash funding through the Google.org Social Innovation Fund to support underserved social entrepreneurs across Europe.

Social entrepreneurs need more support

According to a study released today by ChangemakerXchange and The Possibilists and co-funded by Google.org, only 1 in 5 young social entrepreneurs can live off their venture and over 60% have experienced burnout. Entrepreneurs from underserved communities experience these challenges more acutely. In addition, research from Euclid Network shows that social enterprises face significant barriers to growing their business and scaling their impact. In particular, they lack access to capital and support from companies and governments.

Private companies need to play their part in helping the social economy. Today, the European Commission is setting out a strong policy agenda to support social enterprises in its EU Action Plan on the Social Economy, and calling on governments, funders and companies to do more to support the social economy. We’re committed to doing our part — and to building on our work at Google for Startups in Europe over the last ten years, our Google.org Impact Challenges and the more than €10 million in Google.org funding that we’ve awarded to social enterprises to support charitable projects over the last 3 years.

Paris-based social enterprise Chance (previously called YGeneration) knows first-hand how critical such support can be — now more than ever. In 2015 Google.org awarded them $200,000 to further their mission of using technology to help people from underserved communities access career guidance, digital coaching and the job market.

Seven years later — with the help of mentoring from Google volunteers and an additional $2 million in Google.org funding — they’ve helped 10,000 job seekers find roles and improve their careers. They also inspired additional funders to invest over €5 million, and will soon announce that they’ve attracted additional funding to reach even more people in French and English speaking countries.

We know there are more social entrepreneurs who could have a positive impact on their communities, if they could get more support.

Supporting underserved entrepreneurs and social economy ecosystems

Today’s announcement will deepen our support, with €20 million in cash funding, as well as additional in-kind support through AdGrants.

€13 million will go toward strengthening local social economy ecosystems across Europe, and creating better access for underserved entrepreneurs. This funding will support leading social economy organizations to create and scale programs that help build the capacity of underserved entrepreneurs, and provide access to networks, upskilling and tools.

Our first grant will be €1 million to Fund 05 in Slovenia to help catalyze the country’s nascent social entrepreneurship sector. We’re also supporting the Euclid Network to gather social economy leaders so they can share insights, learnings and solutions across borders.

In addition, we’re giving a €7 million grant to INCO to provide access to capital and support for entrepreneurs from underserved communities in the form of cash grants between €25,000 – €100,000 each to scale up their enterprises. INCO will also help individuals who are just starting out turn their idea into a business, with funding of €4.000 – €10.000 alongside mentoring and incubation services.

To unlock the full potential of the social economy, we need to work together — that includes governments, companies, foundations, investors, nonprofits, cooperatives and social enterprises. That’s why we’re joining the World Economic Forum’s COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs.

As we work towards an inclusive economic recovery, the decisions that companies, funders, foundations and policymakers make now will determine what our economies of tomorrow will look like. We hope that social entrepreneurship — which truly puts purpose, people and planet at the center of business goals — can influence the economy going forward.

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