Call for Proposals: EUR 750,000 Grants for Greening Social Economy SMEs & Entrepreneurs

Deadline: 14-Feb-23

The European Commission (EC) is accepting proposals for enhancing the social economy ecosystem and SMEs and entrepreneurs nearby through international collaboration.

  • The general objective of this call for proposals is to green the processes and activities of SMEs in the social economy by boosting the development of sustainable practices through capacity building, knowledge transfer and transnational cooperation. In doing so, this call for proposals aims at empowering social economy SMEs to deliver on the objectives set by the EU Green Deal by fostering their capacities and skills, improving their sustainable management and greening their operations.
  • The call for proposal will support transnational partnerships to boost the capacity of social economy SMEs and entrepreneurs in the proximity and social economy ecosystem to green their operations to innovate their products, services and processes and therefore enable them to scale up their contribution to the green transition in the EU.
  • Green growth can offer significant benefits but many SMEs active in this ecosystem still face barriers regarding the sustainable transition.
  • This call for proposals also intends to strengthen the capacity of social economy intermediaries to support their members in the green transition. Empowering intermediaries should allow continuity of support services and expertise offered to members and stakeholders.

The call for proposals aims at:

  • supporting transnational and cross-sectorial cooperation, and exchange of good practices to enable sustainable growth of social economy SMEs and entrepreneurs regarding the green transition;
  • boosting the capacities and skills of staff and management within social economy SMEs and entrepreneurs to green their operations and develop sustainable products and services;
  • encouraging the uptake of sustainable alternatives and innovative solutions through capacity building, incubation and acceleration, advisory services and coaching;
  • fostering cooperation between social economy entities on the one hand, and mainstream businesses, academia and public authorities on the other.

Activities must fall under at least one of the following themes:

  • Improving social economy SMEs environmental footprint considering value chains of products and services but also internal processes and management;
  • Boosting the sustainable contribution of social economy entities by allowing the uptake of circular economy practices (e.g. recycling and upcycling), sustainable transport solutions, and enable the development of renewable energy alternatives (e.g. solar panels), energy efficiency technologies (e.g. heating, renovation and insulation) and resource efficiency solutions (e.g. waste management);
  • Enabling the development of local green markets (e.g. in retail, agro-food packaging, catering, mobility, construction, cleaning, landscaping, maintenance, manufacturing, etc.);
  • Testing, implementing and scaling-up innovative green solutions by social economy SMEs and entrepreneurs;
  • Capacity building and expertise sharing on measuring and communicating about environmental impact of social economy SMEs;
  • Setting up investment or financial vehicles to finance the green transition of social economy, for example philanthropy, local impact investment funds, crowd funding and match funding schemes, public private investment schemes, etc.;
  • Fostering social economy SMEs’ capacity and skills to improve their use of new digital technologies for green purposes resulting in new business models;
  • Evaluating skills, infrastructure and investment needs required to enable social economy entities to meet climate targets in the long term
Funding Information
  • The available call budget is EUR 6 000 000. This budget might be increased by a maximum 20%. Project budgets (maximum grant amount) are expected to range between EUR 750 000 and EUR 1 000 000.
  • Projects must range between 24 and 36 months (extensions are possible, if duly justified and through an amendment).

The call for proposals targets the following outcome:

  • Improved capacity of social economy SMEs and entrepreneurs to perform on the green transition;
  • Enhanced transnational cooperation of public authorities and other stakeholders on the identification and implementation of sustainability practices for the proximity and social economy ecosystem;
  • Fostered cross-sectorial cooperation and knowledge transfer between social economy SMEs and start-ups, mainstream businesses, consultancies, business support centres and incubators with regard to the uptake of green skills and the development of more sustainable products and services;
  • Evidence-based integration of sustainable innovative processes by social economy SMEs and start-ups boosting their competitiveness and creating potential new market opportunities;
Eligibility Criteria
  • In order to be eligible, the applicants (beneficiaries and affiliated entities) must:
    • be legal entities (public or private bodies)
  • be established in one of the eligible countries, i.e.:
    • EU Member States (including overseas countries and territories (OCTs))
    • non-EU countries
Specific Cases
  • Exceptional funding — Entities from other countries are exceptionally eligible, if the granting authority considers their participation essential for the implementation of the action.
  • Natural persons — Natural persons are NOT eligible (with the exception of self employed persons, i.e. sole traders, where the company does not have legal personality separate from that of the natural person).
  • International organisations — International organisations are eligible. The rules on eligible countries do not apply to them.
  • Entities without legal personality — Entities which do not have legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offer guarantees for the protection of the EU financial interests equivalent to that offered by legal persons.

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