Social enterprises in Wales are being encouraged to prosper and grow over the next few years, thanks to an investment given by European Union (EU) funds.
Welsh deputy minister for economy and transport Lee Waters recently revealed £3 million will be put into the Social Business Wales New Start project, which has been established to help in the start-up and development of social enterprises in Wales.
The initiative is being led by the Wales Co-operative Centre, which regards this area of business to be an “important and growing part of the Welsh economy”, according to the organisation’s enterprise programme director Glenn Bowen.
“Social Business Wales New Start will help people to come together to set up new social businesses across west Wales and the valleys, providing important services and creating much needed jobs,” it was added.
Mr Waters spoke at the Co-operative Leaders Lunch at the Clink restaurant in Cardiff, which itself is a social enterprise.
He stated that co-operatives help to “add real value to the Welsh economy and labour market”.
“By creating jobs, improving educational attainment, providing social care in people’s houses and reducing inequality, particularly in our most deprived communities,” Mr Waters stated.
He went on to say social businesses in Wales help boost the number of “grounded indigenous firms in our communities”.
Social Business Wales will receive the money from the European Regional Development Fund together with the Welsh government.
So far, the money the EU has already invested into projects in Wales has helped to launch 13,000 new businesses, creating more than 48,000 jobs and getting 86,000 people back into work.
Wales’ social business sector is incredibly important to the country’s economy, and is thought to be valued at an estimated £3.18 billion.
The industry is growing all the time, and is worth 34 per cent more now than in 2016, according to the Mapping the Social Business Sector in Wales report.
These findings revealed there are 2,022 social businesses in Wales – an increase of 19 per cent compared with 2016’s figures. These enterprises are responsible for 55,000 jobs and 58,000 volunteering opportunities.
While only 48 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Wales pay the Real Living Wage to their staff, this figure increases to more than three-quarters when it comes to social businesses.
What’s more, a quarter of these organisations invest their profits into social objectives, mainly to help the local community.
Chief executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre Derek Walker said: “The social business sector is a varied and innovative sector, which offers enhanced economic, environmental and social value to our country and, as such, makes an important contribution to Wales’ efforts to achieve its goals for future generations.”
Indeed, they are very effective at supporting communities by providing jobs and training locals would, otherwise, find it difficult to attain in the public and private sectors.
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