OECD Toolkit for the Social Economy

The social economy pioneers new business models, provides essential services, contributes to job creation, a fairer, green and digital transition, engages youth, and builds communities.  National, regional and local governments can use this toolkit to implement the OECD Recommendation.

Country news and resources

OECD - Launch event for the OECD Recommendation on the Social and Solidarity Economy and Social Innovation.

GERMANY - On 22 November 2022, the OECD presented the OECD Recommendation on the Social and Solidarity Economy and Social Innovation with a German-speaking audience from Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

EU - The social economy gateway is a one-stop-shop website that provides social economy entities with information on EU funding, training opportunities, events, country-specific information, and where to go for additional resources, as a tool for capacity-building.

SPAIN - Launch of the 2023-2027 Spanish Strategy for Social Economy and November 2023: High-Level Conference in San Sebastian.

OECD - OECD Ambassadors met in March 2023 to discuss the future of the social and solidarity economy.

PORTUGAL - Launch of the satellite account for the social economy, highlighting the sector's resilience and countercyclical nature during crises.

CANADA - Creation of the Social Innovation Advisory Council (SIAC) to guide future initiatives supporting the growth and sustainability of Canada’s social innovation sector.

BELGIUM - 12-13 February 2024 | 📍 Liège: Conference on the Social Economy under the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union under the theme the Social Economy at the Core of Transitions

FRANCE - New 2023 Roadmap to boost the social and solidarity economy at national and local level.

LUXEMBOURG - Launch of the first edition of Luxembourg Impact Days, featuring over 40 social enterprises and attracting 500 visitors.

CANADA - Launch of the Social Finance Fund (SFF), a CAD 755 million initiative that seeks to accelerate the growth of Canada’s social finance market.

Implementing the nine building blocks of the Recommendation

🤝 Foster a social economy culture

Encourage and promote the emergence and expansion of civil society initiatives and the strengthening of local social capital in general

Good practice:

Pitfalls to avoid

  • ◾ Proposing social economy initiatives without considering local communities’ culture and traditions.
  • ◾ Developing awareness-raising campaigns that are too technical to be understood by the general public.
  • ◾ Having in place complex and bureaucratic red tape processes that hinder the emergence of civil society initiatives.
  • ◾ Duplicating initiatives across different levels of government that could lead to inefficient coordination and wasted resources.

🏛️ Create supportive institutional frameworks

Clarify who does what across ministries, public agencies, and levels of government

Good practice:

Pitfalls to avoid

  • ◾ Designing an institutional framework for the social economy without consulting stakeholders and taking into account strategies of the sector itself.
  • ◾ Not considering the existing ecosystem, including various stakeholders, norms and procedures that might have an impact (direct or indirect) on the development of social economy entities.
  • ◾ Overlooking/allowing overlaps or inconsistencies with other policies and actions that may have an impact on social economy entities.
  • ◾ Allocating responsibilities for the social economy across multiple government agencies and levels, leading to ambiguity, confusion, and inefficiency in policy implementation.

🔧 Design enabling legal and regulatory frameworks

Design clear, simple and easy to use legal frameworks that allow social economy organisations to effectively operate

Good practice:

Pitfalls to avoid

  • ◾ Designing legislation before mapping and understanding national legislation and regulations relative to the social economy, as well as readiness of social economy entities.
  • ◾ Considering that a “social economy law” is the silver bullet that will solve all issues.
  • ◾ Designing legal forms or statuses that are unduly restrictive and unattractive to social economy entities and their members.
  • ◾ Creating social economy laws without adequate enforcement and compliance mechanisms.


💸 Support access to finance

Encourage knowledge and expertise of the social economy field in financial intermediaries and public financial support.

Good practice:

Pitfalls to avoid

  • ◾ Focusing on increasing supply of finance without taking into account the demand side i.e., investment readiness of social economy entities.
  • ◾ Replicating in less mature markets the latest innovations from mature markets without having a similar ecosystem in place.
  • ◾ Offering generic financial solutions (i.e., one-size-fits-all approach) that may not suit all types of social economy entities.

🛒 Enable access to public and private markets

Include social and/or environmental considerations to help the social economy access procurement markets

Good practice:

Pitfalls to avoid

  • ◾ Using exclusively the “lowest-price only” option in public procurement.
  • ◾ Lacking control on bidding offers relative to green/social 'washing' (i.e. offers without a real integration project or social and/or environmental considerations).
  • ◾ Not offering training for procurement officials and assuming private actors and the general public are aware of the benefits of procuring goods and services from social economy entities.


💪 Strengthen skills and business development support

Mobilise adequate resources to develop skills and business development support for the social economy

Good practice:

Pitfalls to avoid

  • ◾ Focusing support services predominantly in urban areas and not enough in rural regions.
  • ◾ Failing to involve key stakeholders in the design and implementation of education and training programmes.
  • ◾ Offering fragmented or isolated support.
  • ◾ Introducing red tape and processes that might hinder social economy entities from accessing support.



📏 Encourage impact measurement and monitoring

Encourage impact measurement and monitoring by disseminating successful practices and knowledge.

Good  practice:

Pitfalls to avoid

  • ◾ Imposing a uniform approach to impact measurement.
  • ◾ Seeing improved measurement and reporting as an end in itself rather than a means to an end - stakeholders should act on the insights made visible by impact measurement and reporting, not just publish them.
  • ◾ Waiting until a perfect solution has come, instead of moving ahead, while learning by doing and from others.



📊 Support the production of data

Produce reliable data and evidence to support policy making and programmes

Good practice:

Pitfalls to avoid

  • ◾ Implementing data collection and statistical initiatives without involving social economy stakeholders.
  • ◾ Focusing solely on quantitative data collection, which can lead to an incomplete understanding of the market and non-market impact of the social economy.
  • ◾ Creating definitions and classifications that are rigid or that do not evolve with the changing nature of the social economy.
  • ◾ Not sufficiently considering the long-term impact of the social economy by excessively concentrating on the short-term outcomes and the immediately quantifiable aspects of various policies and programmes.


🚀 Encourage social innovation

Promote new and cost-effective solutions to unleash the full potential of the social economy

Good practice:

Pitfalls to avoid

  • ◾ Overlooking the importance of involving a wide range of stakeholders in the pursuit of driving social change.
  • ◾ Assuming that a single economic development model or social innovation strategy will work universally across all regions.
  • ◾ Thinking short-term, which can undermine the potential benefits of social innovation.


Blogs, videos and podcasts

What is the social and solidarity economy?

Tell us about the social and solidarity economy in your country at [email protected].

See all social economy videos



Can the social economy help refugees access jobs?

This podcast discusses how the social and solidarity economy can fast track the labour-market integration of refugees and migrants.


Beyond borders: How the social economy goes international

Policy makers around the world are seeking to harness the power of the social economy to deliver an alternative economic model: one that places sustainability and inclusion at its core. Yet, while they have a powerful collective impact, many social economy entities are content to operate locally. How can they scale up and go international?


Young and yern? You need to start a social enterprise

Young people are seizing opportunities and leading social enterprises across the world but what are the challenges and best paths to follow? How do we give young people a seat at the table? What can policy makers do to help? Polly Akhurst from Amala gives us her insights.


What can the social economy teach us about never wasting a good crisis?

We spoke with policy makers and social entrepreneurs at the sidelines of the OECD Social and Solidarity Summit on 20-21 March 2023.

See all social economy videos



Daring to do: Young social entrepreneurs doubling down on business with impact

Jonathan Van de Gronden, James Hermanson and Natalie Laechelt discuss how young people are choosing work with social impact.


Related publications

Read more on OECD iLibrary

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