On Friday 18 September 2020, in the framework of the European Coronavirus Alliance webinars, the European Commission, the European Clusters Alliance and the European Associaton of Development Agencies, co-organized a workshop on "Industrial Ecosystems: Proximity and Social Economy".

The webinar brought together presentations from three Cluster organizations on their work in the field, in order to feed into the reflection on the post-Covid19 recovery plan.

The presentation by Bernard Lahure from Ecotransfaire, the company that is piloting the SSE Cluster Grande Région project, emphasized the cross-border nature of this project where four countries are involved (Luxembourg, France, Germany, Belgium), each bringing an original perspective. This cluster forms a support community for the development of the local economy, supporting social entrepreneurs whose structures are on a human scale and are mostly involved in the social sector. This support is based on the triptych community, project and territory and is very pragmatic and solution-oriented, thanks to a presence in the field and listening to the members. The labels help political decision-makers to direct their support, but in the field SMIs do not have the time to obtain the label. This is why the Cluster is above all looking at the strong social impact in the field and has adopted a charter in order to deepen the means of working together. The social enterprises that belong to this community operate in the fields of local food distribution, social purchasing, the social economy, and the reuse of construction materials, as part of the circular economy.

Jan Willem Wennekes, from the Impact Noord organization in the Netherlands, presented the constitution of this cluster as a two-pronged project: aimed at both social and solidarity economy enterprises and traditional enterprises wishing to become a social enterprise. He recalled that impact enterprises have basic needs for visibility, representation, networking and development opportunities. Faced with these challenges, the active regional network that has been set up has proven to be an effective solution, bringing organizations together and facilitating partnerships with institutions (banks, universities) and local governments. The Cluster has assigned itself three roles:

- The representation ;

- Member Services ;

- Ecosystem development

It has grown from 13 to 56 members (impact companies) and from 2 to 11 partners (mainly regional players). The main challenges remain continuity and growth.

In the case of the Cluster of Social Enterprises in Vojvodina (KASPEV) presented by Siniša Tešić, the starting point for its creation lies in a desire to facilitate access to employment for vulnerable people (women, people with disabilities, etc.). The cluster works to create links between the economy, the educational institution and the research organization on social economy in order to support the social economy in Serbia, to train and strengthen the capacities of the cluster members, to educate, to imagine new services, to deploy social innovation.

KASPEV brings together 15 members from different economic sectors: leading industry, ecology, soda water production etc. It is one of the members of the Social Economy Council of the Vojvodina region.

- Spotlight on Innovation - Employ4all (platform for better employment of people with disabilities)

- Social EnterChangingShip - Board Game for Social Entrepreneurship Education

- Responsible - Website for a better cooperation Profit-making enterprises with the social enterprise KASPEV

The communities presented underline the holistic dimension of the SSE approach and its place in the construction of the post-Covid19 world. Responding to the need for support for SSE actors and strengthening their weight by expanding networks are key factors.

This is what ESS Forum International is working on through the Agora of Projects, a platform for promoting and supporting social and solidarity economy projects.

Find the video of the webinar, here.