Network D Strengthening the national social economy (the third sector), in particular the services of interest to the community, with a focus on improving the quality of jobs.
Project name The Social Economy for the Amber Trail
Project number D0443

Project description

The activities carried out within the framework of the project cover the Małopolska Voivodship (the Babia Góra region, Wadowice Land and Gorlice Land), the Świętokrzyskie Voivodship (Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski subregion) and the Podkarpacie Voivodship (the Bieszczady, Lesko and Sanok Poviats). These five regions are characterised by a high rate of unemployment compared to the average rate for a given voivodship.

The main objective of this initiative is to create innovative and model tools for the local social economy, implemented by NGOs. The Partnership will establish five social enterprises which will be responsible for the infrastructure and services of the Amber Trail and the "Green Bicycle-East Carpathian Greenway". These companies will offer jobs for people at risk of unemployment and social exclusion. The project beneficiaries will be persons aged 18-24 and long-term unemployed women trying to return to the labour market, for whom no age limit has been set. The social enterprises will offer jobs to 46 people.

The companies to be established within the project will be spun off the structures of NGOs which will found them. They will operate based on concrete business plans and commercial agreements with local partners - companies and institutions which provide services on the natural and cultural heritage tourism market. They will also have promotional modules available for the Amber Trail and the "Green Bicycle-East Carpathian Greenway". Due to the fact that the social companies will operate in a brand new market segment, it will be difficult for them to succeed commercially in the short term. This problem should be solved by the structure of the company, which will be a business unit of an NGO able to obtain grants to secure the further development of the social enterprise.

During project implementation, two initiatives will be launched to disseminate information. The first will focus on the cultural and natural heritage and the second on the social initiatives on which the revitalisation is based of the regions covered by the project and for the development of social entrepreneurship in the natural and cultural tourism sector. There will be two series: "Południe Kraju" (The South of the Country) - a cultural information booklet, and a series of tourist guides of the "Polska Turystyczna" (Tourist Poland) consortium (Bezdroża and Compass). These series are an element of the project's promotion campaign.

The project output subject to validation will be "the model of operations of a social economy entity based on businesses run by NGOs". It will include the methodology for transforming an NGO into an employer and an economic entity with an active impact on the local labour market and will take into consideration the formal and legal framework, the implementation cost of the proposed solution and examples of good practice.

Another element of the project output will be the methodology for creating products for the heritage tourism market, based on cooperation with local communities and on local natural and cultural assets. It will contain guidelines, recommendations and sample solutions for the most significant problems, and a cost calculation for the implementation of the recommended solution. Other supporting products include a method for developing business plans for social economy initiatives, a method of training local human resources for the needs of heritage tourism, methods for the stimulation of the transformation of a local NGO into an employer which will actively develop the local labour market by support institutions (labour offices, large NGOs).

The supporting products will include descriptions of the preconditions that must be met by any organisation willing to implement the project output. They will be complemented by self-assessment tools to evaluate the readiness of an organisation to implement solutions. A list of potential funding sources for the recommended initiatives will also be developed. All products will be available on the website of the Polish Environmental Partnership Foundation and on the websites of the five NGOs which will become the business units of the local social economy.

The main project output is addressed to NGOs which operate locally in rural areas and small towns, characterised by limited development opportunities for industry, and sometimes even for agriculture, where the only development capital is the local community and cultural and natural assets. The dissemination of project outputs in this community will be performed through National Network of Partnership Groups and Forum on the Animation of Rural Areas. Other target groups include those institutions of the labour market which carry out rehabilitation programmes for the unemployed, regional or national third sector organisations, and regional development agencies which have long-term experience in supporting the non-governmental sector within rural communities, as well as large companies which pursue corporate social responsibility policies. These companies can provide financial and technical support for the implementation of business plans developed by NGOs which establish social enterprises.

The project output dissemination strategy also envisages the publication of information booklets, press and multimedia materials, the organisation of special seminars. In addition, conferences to popularise the progress and the outputs of the project (including press conferences), as well as study visits for journalists to the project area are planned. Press releases on good practices will be published in trade press, local press and official publications, and disseminated by press bulletins. A press room will be open for the project during the whole implementation period.