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Mapping Women’s Social Entrepreneurship in Europe.Synthesis Report.

WEstart Emily Usher Shrair, September 2015

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Summary :

While social and solidarity-based organisations have existed in Europe since the early 19th century, social enterprises speci cally, with their focus on market- based exchange, only entered public discourse in the late 1980s and early 1990s (ICF Consulting 2014).

In the seven years following the crisis, individuals, communities and governments throughout Europe have increasingly turned to social enterprise as a possible solution to growing social issues such as discrimination, marginalisation and poverty. Research has indicated that social enterprises are effective at creating crisis-resistant employment opportunities and economic growth, as well as growing “social wealth” or “social capital” (Blanch ower and Oswald, 1998; Mair and Marti, 2006; Zahra et al., 2009).

However, due to the fact that legal de nitions of social enterprise vary from country to country, it has been very dif cult to get a comprehensive picture of the overall situation of social entrepreneurship in Europe. There is relatively little comparative research on the topic.

Additionally, as the eld is prone to rapid change and development, such research is logistically dif cult.

One distinctive element of social entrepreneurship and social enterprise on which research has been all but non-existent is gender. This is surprising, as the higher participation of women than men in non-pro t sector employment is well documented (Themudo 2009).