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IDEA - Investment Development and Empowerment Action

Interreg IPA CBC Programme “Greece - Albania 2014-2020”
The official website of the IDEA Project - Investment Development and Empowerment Action - is funded by the EC in the framework of the Albania-Greece Cross-Border Program 2014-2020. A space where the information can be found for all the social entrepreneurs operating in Albania and Greece and also for the potential investors for their creation in the cross-border area.

Project Description

TSocial economy and social entrepreneurship are identified as factors of social and economic cohesion across Europe, contributing to the construction of a pluralistic and resilient economy. They create jobs, provide innovative products and services and promote a more sustainable economy, while contributing to the integration of democracy into economy and environmental protection. They also create new perspectives and hopes for the future and help citizens regain control over decisions that affect their lives. It is a common belief that the development of the sector of social and solidary economy in Greece and Albania inherently has the potential to form simultaneously an important factor of the crisis exit strategy and the local /regional development, a significant source for job maintenance and creation and -finally an effective catalyst in reshaping the economic and social fabric of each country. The cross-border area of the program has a long history of cooperatives and communalism which has so far not been acknowledged as a development lever to the extent that it should. The main factor holding back the development of social entrepreneurship in the regions of Epirus and South Albania is the lack of financial- investment tools. The problem is maximized as social entrepreneurs in very few cases have own funds while they are practically excluded from bank lending through systemic banks. In contrast to the above, as a comparative advantage of the region is the significant presence and intense activity of national-local organizations which have helped the ties of expatriate Greeks and Albanians with their place of origin to remain active, creating a peculiar volunteerism. This form of volunteerism and offering is activated through actions that have to do with the support of the place of origin and the people who continue to reside in it. Alongside, local communities are able to fund innovative social entrepreneurship efforts with a direct positive impact on local communities. The main difficulties that have been identified in relation to the above could be summarized as follows:

-There are no financial tools that can ensure the legality and transparency of funding and which will not be burdened with excessive taxation or bureaucracy
-Innovative social entrepreneurship ideas cannot be easily known or they are unable to become mature in technico-economic terms and therefore cannot convince for the feasibility of the venture leading to many questions on behalf of potential donors /investors /supporters
-There is no reliable and flexible mechanism to monitor and ensure that all resources are being exploited for the purposes they were meant for and to substantiate the reasonableness of the cost

The proposed project:
-Studies and records the supply for support of social economy initiatives and the demand for such form of support at local level
-Studies and creates hybrid financing tools that are characterized by transparency, low administrative costs and reliability and which can be applied at local level. Under the project, there will be pilot application of these tools for financing 8-10 social ventures.
-Brings together social entrepreneurs with potential sponsors /supporters /investors and acts as a facilitator in order through the use of an appropriate financing tool to have a harmonious and effective cooperation
-Implements advisory, training and capacity building actions to support social entrepreneurs to ripen their ideas and also to be able to present to sponsors /supporters /investors a comprehensive, documented and costed proposal
-Creates a flexible and reliable mechanism that can monitor and ensure that all resources are being exploited for the purposes they were meant for, which will operate even after the completion of the project
-Evaluates the social impact of the proposed social economy and entrepreneurship projects
-Also creates non-financial support tools Concerning the selection of partners, strong emphasis was given on issues such as:
-Expertise in social economy and social entrepreneurship, counseling support and experience in networking and social capital mobilization projects (Auleda and SOCIETY 3/3).
-Scientific knowledge on issues of financing tools creation and training - counseling support (University of Ioannina & University of Vlora)
-Representation of local government and ability to activate the local society (Municipality of Chimara, Municipality of Arta)

Project Objective :

The overall objective of the project is in line with SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE: 2.2 “Improve cross border capacity to support entrepreneurship, business survival and competitiveness” regarding the social entrepreneurship sector since:
-Through the development of hybrid social finance instruments & models and the Coaching, mentoring and capacity building, improves capacities of social enterprises and social operators whereas regional actors/facilities to support the growth of social businesses
-Improves cross-border social enterprises survival by giving them access to funding
-Creates collaborative schemes of social enterprises through Networking Conferences and the permanent supporting mechanism
-Increases exports of Cross Border social enterprises. Even though social economy social economy has main a local approach social enterprises that operate in the tourist sector are extrovert
Moreover the project contributes to the achievement of the key objectives for smart growth, sustainable development and inclusive growth as follows:
-Smart growth: by supporting the construction of ICT infrastructure for social enterprises (the web-site will be the instrument for the participatory planning of social projects/investments) social businesses services (coaching mentoring, advisory support, developing financial tools) and tourism development, which is a key sector for all cross-border productive systems (in each area of intervention projects that will try to be funded will regard to the tourist sector).
-Sustainable growth: Social economy promotes environmental protection, sustainable use of natural resources and use of RES. IDEA project will develop and apply a Social Impact Measurement tool in order to ensure that the social investments funded support sustainable growth
-Inclusive growth: Social economy is people’s economy. It is labor intensive and thus supports social integration since most of the people working in this sector are coming from vulnerable social groups