SEMPRE Accelerators for Service Co-Creation
SEMPRE Accelerators
 
PROGRAMME 2014-2020
priority
1 Innovation
objective
1.3 Non-technological innovation

SEMPRE Accelerators

Thanks to the project SEMPRE Accelerators, eight initiatives transformed to social start-ups and empowered the marginalised citizens in rural areas to get involved in co-development of self-sustaining businesses.
The challenge

More people in need in the countryside

Many rural areas of the Baltic Sea region find themselves in a downward spiral, where outward migration and economic downturn lead to a deterioration of service infrastructure and quality of life and vice-versa. In peripheral regions, competencies that are needed to renew services and stimulate social innovation and entrepreneurship are missing while regional disparities increase. Demographic changes and financial austerity further add to these challenges. Vulnerable groups like single parents, the elderly, or migrants are at the risk of poverty and exclusion as they are strongly affected by this development.

Welfare organisations need to learn how to help with less resources

Social service providers could take care of such vulnerable groups, but they, too, suffer from ever smaller budgets and work force. Social services by their nature aim to build stronger communities and to promote equality and opportunity. They are typically provided by welfare and public sector organisations, NGOs or social enterprises. In the changing settings in our rural areas, social service providers need to find new ways of supporting their clients – they need service innovation. And providers need to find new ways of supporting their clients – they need service innovation. And one new approach is empowerment.

Empowering disadvantaged people to help themselves

Empowerment means that social service providers involve those belonging to vulnerable groups into designing the services they need and ideally into providing those services to each other. Social service providers who use empowerment methods rather connect people who can help each other instead of providing help themselves. Social service providers in some countries (e.g. in northern Germany) had been experimenting with for a while. With SEMPRE they wanted to expand the method to partner organisations in various countries around the Baltic Sea.

SEMPRE Accelerator brings social service to a new level

30 micro projects in eight countries which aimed to empower disadvantaged people were the result of the SEMPRE project. Social workers learned how to use empowerment tools such as the social business model canvas or the theory of change to involve e.g. single parents, people with disabilities or migrants into creating new ideas for social services and testing them. In SEMPRE Accelerators, the partners focus on eight of the most promising micro projects. They turn the micro projects into successful, self-sustaining social start-ups that consistently offer services and/or products on local and regional markets of the Baltic Sea region.

Budgets

SEMPRE Accelerators
in numbers
  • 1.09
    Million
    Total
  • 0.78
    Million
    Erdf
  • 0.08
    Million
    Eni + Russia
  • 0.00
    Million
    Norway

Achievements

From initiative to real business

The project SEMPRE Accelerators aimed to improve the social service infrastructure by empowering members of disadvantaged groups such as single parents, the elderly or migrants participate in the design and delivery of social services. Institutional capacity building of social service providers was essential for this process to adapt work methods and instruments and successfully manage organisational change to involve users of social services in the co-creation process. Therefore, the project used the experiential knowledge of the members of disadtantaged groups and the professional know-how of the social workers to accelerate the transformation of eight social initiatives into fully-fledged social start-ups. The skills that the project enhanced cover entrepreneurship, management, performance improvement, leadership, marketing and financial management. Some of the social start-ups developed stable and formalised structures, while others succeeded in extending their social service portfolio. As side effects, the new businesses in rural areas paved the way for job creation, increase in social capital, inclusive growth and transfer of experiences.

Concrete examples inspire

Among the examples of how marginalised and vulnerable groups got engaged are: an inclusive stop-over coffee shop managed by disadvantaged young people in Liepa (Latvia); a regional social service for people with mental difficulties getting a voice in society and being able to express their needs, so-called “Hear Me Out” initiative in Esbjerg (Denmark); a social platform for single parents established as a non-profit organisation that offers workplaces for single parents in Jurbarkas (Lithuania); a dog care service founded and run by people in challenging life situations (e.g. difficulties in entering labor market) and with mental disabilities in Luleå (Sweden).

Training and peer learning in accelerator teams

To strengthen the empowerment process, the project gathered the participating organisations and established “accelerator teams” involving social service users on the one hand, and social services providers on the other hand. Through the exchange, co-development and peer learning, the teams addressed the jointly identified needs, obstacles and possibilities to overcome such challenges as setting up stable and efficient management and leadership structures, extending the range or improving the quality of the offered services, acquiring financing and involving more service users in operation and management of the start-up. The process was also facilitated by external experts helping to streamline the actions, initiatives and solutions. In addition, the project ensured that peer learning would also happen within a transnational framework, when accelerator teams exchanged their experiences across borders. The feedback from the exchange served as a basis for a review of the earlier publications, namely the empowerment handbook for social workers, the organisational roadmap for leaders in social services and the guidebook on empowerment training and development of recommendations for an inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Outputs

Eight social start-ups

Eight social initiatives turned to social start-ups being developed, owned and managed by the marginalised groups in rural areas. The empowerment tools and action learning methods helped turn end-users (members of disadvantaged groups)  into “owners” or “co-owners” of these start-ups. Among those are single parents´ platform ALLDI (website and blog for and by parents) in Dithmarschen where about 12% of all families are single parents´ families (Germany); “Hear Me Out” for young and grown-up people with mental health difficulties in Esbjerg (Denmark); newspaper and web-platform for supporting integration of migrants and refugees in Nordfriesland (Germany); dog care service (dog walking as a job training for men and women with mental disabilities) in Luleå (Sweden); social platform for single parents that offer workplaces for single parents in Jurbarkas (Lithuania); stop-over coffee shop for disadvantaged people in Liepa (Latvia); a start-up specialising in healthy, cheaper and tasty food in Rucava (Latvia) and finally, community center in Harkujärve (Estonia).

Recommendations for an inclusive social entrepreneurship ecosystem

The recommendations are for policymakers at local, national, regional and partly European levels to develop policies that enhance job creation, inclusive entrepreneurship and social inclusion.  The document guides on how vulnerable and marginalised citizens can be involved in co-creation, and become more visible and heard in society. The report contains eight practical recommendations on, e.g. infrastructure for support and capacity-building for disadvantaged groups, informal support and engagement, encouragement as regards training, peer learning and exchange, the introduction of seed-funding schemes and other tips.

Project Stories

Partners

Diaconie of Schleswig-Holstein

  • Town
    Rendsburg
  • Region
    Rendsburg-Eckernförde
  • Country
    Germany
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
272,587.65
54.30467019.6645115

University College South Denmark

  • Town
    Esbjerg Ø
  • Region
    Sydjylland
  • Country
    Denmark
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
140,000.00
55.48804378.5042201

Academy of Economics Schleswig-Holstein

  • Town
    Kiel
  • Region
    Kiel, Kreisfreie Stadt
  • Country
    Germany
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
133,528.00
54.322708510.135555

Sunderby Folk High School

  • Town
    S Sunderbyn
  • Region
    Norrbottens län
  • Country
    Sweden
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
107,463.00
65.654162721.9534144

Lutheran diaconia

  • Town
    Vilnius
  • Region
    Vilniaus apskritis
  • Country
    Lithuania
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
89,986.00
54.687045825.2829111

Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences

  • Town
    Valmiera
  • Region
    Vidzeme
  • Country
    Latvia
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
100,000.00
57.538914825.4261688

Diaconal centre Liepaja

  • Town
    Liepaja
  • Region
    Kurzeme
  • Country
    Latvia
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
69,505.00
56.504843521.0070903

Foundation for Diaconia and Social Work of EELC (Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church)

  • Town
    Tallinn
  • Region
    Põhja-Eesti
  • Country
    Estonia
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
85,000.00
59.437215524.7453688

Karelian Research Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences (KarRC RAS)

  • Town
    Petrozavodsk
  • Region
    Republic of Karelia
  • Country
    Russian Federation
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
94,972.00
61.77706284848042634.397510627669874