EESC wants bigger social enterprise role

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By Una Murphy

A Greek trade unionist may gave social enterprise businesses a bigger voice in Europe, according to Northern Ireland economist Michael Smyth.

Georges Dassis could have an impact on social enterprise businesses as he is the new President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the principal institution in Europe representing the voice of civil society.

Mr Smyth, who is the new EESC vice president, said: “Under the presidency of George Dassis the committee will definitely be taking up a more social perspective. There will be a move (within Europe) away from austerity and fiscal consolidation and a move towards social investment”.

Social enterprise is one of the top priorities for Mr Smyth who will be be EESC vice-president in charge of the budget until 2018. He told VIEWdigital that social enterprises could up-skill people to take on jobs as diverse as coding to plumbing.

He said that “advocates of social enterprise needed a strong voice” and could be the key to skills training within “community organisations who are close to the grass roots”.

“It seems to me that the tax system should be used to incentivise institutional investment as well as philanthropic investment in social enterprises.”

mango

Cecilia Whitehorn, CMWorks social inclusion consultancy, left, with Gerry White general manger, John Hewitt Bar and Restaurant social enterprise and Colin Mackey, owner Mango Street juice bar

It is food for thought for Northern Ireland’s first social enterprise juice bar. Mango Street based in Sandy Row, Belfast took part in a #Social Saturday promotion to convince people to ‘buy social’ to help local communities.

A “strong voice” for social enterprises is set to be debated at the Social Enterprise NI annual conference on October 22 in Dunadry Hotel in Antrim and the need for central and local government to ‘buy social’ will be high on the agenda.

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