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 Social Cooperative UL
Project number D0690

Project description

The objective of the Partnership is to prepare a group of disabled people to create jobs for themselves in a multi-branch social cooperative which they will establish. Within this enterprise, the disabled will employ people who do not suffer from a disability, rather than the opposite, which is usually the case.

25 disabled beneficiaries will participate in the project. During training they will discover their abilities to perform a job and they will acquire the skills needed to work. The training will cover motivation and skills improvement.

The Partnership will develop and describe the necessary conditions to establish and manage a social cooperative, i.e. it will determine what infrastructure is essential to run the business. It will analyse the Polish regulations and based on such an analysis it will determine what documentation is needed to establish and run a social cooperative. It will also prepare an organisational chart and management chart for the social cooperative. The scope of activity for the future social enterprises will be determined after the surveys among the business people of the Września Poviat have been conducted. Based on these surveys, the Partnership will develop a marketing plan which will indicate manufacturing niches, and therefore business areas which have not yet been developed. Following this, ten business plans will be prepared for those niches, and subsequently three market niches will be selected, in which the social enterprise will be able to perform successfully.

A consulting and administration centre is planned to be established for the members of cooperatives, which will offer consulting services in the area of current problems related to running businesses. This assistance will be provided by experts, who have conducted training sessions and developed business plans before, and therefore are acquainted with the programme and its beneficiaries.

The consultants will provide consulting services in the area of running businesses. The support will include consulting in the field of broadly defined social economy and will concern, inter alia, assistance in establishing social enterprises, raising funds and reporting on their usage. Owing to these consultations, the members of a cooperative will have more confidence about the correctness of their actions. Moreover, in order to reduce the costs associated with running a business to a minimum, the members of a cooperative will receive support in the form of administrative and accounting services.

The main project output will be a document titled Social Cooperative for Disabled People as a Way to Combat Their Inactivity on the Labour Market. The developed solutions are based on ready-made, proven solutions from Italy and France, which have been adapted to Polish reality. The result is a new proposal which can be treated as an offer of vocational and social rehabilitation for disabled people with any type of disability who are not active on the labour market.

An innovative solution which has been applied in the project is that the cooperative, apart from typical business, carries out activities in the field of the vocational, social, cultural, and educational rehabilitation of its members. The organisational structure of the cooperative is also innovative, as it comprises several elements: statutory bodies (president, management board, supervisory board, general assembly), a therapy and services department (4 employees: an employee responsible for integration and cooperative culture, an accountant, an employee responsible for administration and HR, a marketing specialist), field forces (teams of several cooperative members providing field services; each team has an elected leader who cooperates with the marketing specialist), and a convenient warehouse managed by the administration employee.

The therapy and services department deserves some special attention. It will employ only disabled people, who will complete appropriate training. The department can provide assistance with the establishment of further social enterprises, provide accounting services for these enterprises, and support newly hired cooperative employees.

The components of the main project output will include a mechanism for developing a database on the performance of disabled people, methodology for the selection of business areas and forms of activity for a social cooperative, and a strategy for recruiting project beneficiaries. Furthermore, a guidebook with legal and financial advice on the opportunities of subsidised employment, as well as a description of the nature of working with disabled and long-term unemployed people, module-based series of training programmes, and a manual on how to establish a social cooperative will be prepared. This output can be utilised by the unemployed listed by the Act on Social Cooperatives, by labour market institutions, local authorities, organisations and associations willing to establish a social enterprise, cooperatives of the disabled or blind which have the status of a supported employment enterprise, entities and organisations in support of entrepreneurship, as well as by private employers.

Some activities related to project output dissemination (mostly conferences and TV presentations) have been carried out since 2006. The information on subsequent achievements of the Partnership will be regularly published in supraregional and local press. In December 2006 and April 2007 conferences will be organised in which entrepreneurs will participate. Moreover, a conference is scheduled for October 2007, to which the representatives of those communities which act in support of discriminated people will be invited.