Definitie van Social Economy Europe
De meest verspreide Europese definitie is gebaseerd op deze Franse aanpak. Zij werd opgesteld in 2002 en wordt gebruikt door Social Economy Europe, de organisatie die sociale economie actoren vertegenwoordigt op Europees niveau.
"The organisations of the social economy are economic and social actors active in all sectors. They are characterised principally by their aims and by their distinctive form of entrepreneurship. The social economy includes organisations such as cooperatives, mutual societies, associations and foundations. These enterprises are particularly active in certain fields such as social protection, social services, health, banking, insurance, agricultural production, consumer affairs, associative work, craft trades, housing, supply, neighbourhood services, education and training, and the area of culture, sport and leisure activities."
EMES-definitie "social enterprises"
Social enterprises zijn een groeiende sector binnen de sociale economie. Op Europees niveau heeft EMES European Research Network een reeks gemeenschappelijke economische en sociale criteria voorgesteld om deze organisaties te identificeren.
a) A continuous activity producing goods and/or selling services
Social enterprises, unlike some traditional non-profit organisations, are directly involved in the production of goods or the provision of services to people on a continuous basis. The productive activity thus represents the reason, or one of the main reasons, for the existence of social enterprises.
b) A high degree of autonomy
Social enterprises are created by a group of people on the basis of an autonomous project and they are governed by these people. They may depend on public subsidies but they are not managed, directly or indirectly, by public authorities or other organisations.
c) A significant level of economic risk
Those who establish a social enterprise assume totally or partly the risk of the initiative. Unlike most public institutions, their financial viability depends on the efforts of their members and workers to secure adequate resources.
d) A minimum amount of paid work
As in the case of most traditional non-profit organisations, social enterprises may also combine monetary and non-monetary resources, voluntary and paid workers. However, the activity carried out in social enterprises requires a minimum level of paid workers.
e) An explicit aim to benefit the community
One of the principal aims of social enterprises is to serve the community or a specific group of people. In the same perspective, a feature of social enterprises is their desire to promote a sense of social responsibility at local level.
f) An initiative launched by a group of citizens
Social enterprises are the result of collective dynamics involving people belonging to a community or to a group that shares a well-defined need or aim.
g) A decision-making power not based on capital ownership
This generally means the principle of "one member, one vote" or at least a decision-making process in which voting power is not distributed according to capital shares on the governing body which has the ultimate decision-making rights.
h) A participatory nature, which involves the various parties affected by the activity
Representation and participation of users or customers, stakeholder influence on decision-making and a participative management are often important characteristics of social enterprises.
i) A limited profit distribution
Social enterprises not only include organisations that are characterised by a total non-distribution constraint, but also organisations which - like co-operatives in some countries - may distribute profits, but only to a limited extent, thus avoiding a profit-maximising behaviour.