Active Citizens for Social Enterprise is the British Council’s innovative professional development programme promoting community-led social development. It motivates members of communities to take responsibility for their social needs and give them the knowledge, skills and experience to address them.

In Poland the programme is piloted by the British Council and the Foundation for Social and Economic Initiatives (FISE). In May-June 2016 the first round of training series took place in Warsaw, with participation of representatives from social enterprises and all other kinds of institutions that already conduct social economic activity or are planning to launch one.

Main programme objectives:

  • to support leaders of social enterprises in their efforts to boost local development, support sustainable growth and increase the involvement of citizens in social change using the tools of social economy
  • to develop a network of contacts and cooperation opportunities for social enterprises.

Apply by 31 August 2017 to take part in the upcoming edition of the Active Citizens for Social Enterprise programme. Information available in the link at the bottom of the page.

Below please find coverage from the first edition of the Active Citizens for Social Enterprise training in Poland.

Active Citizens for Social Enterprise training in Poland (May–June 2016, Warsaw)

End June not only saw the end of school year and start of holiday season for many, but also conclusion of the first round of Active Citizens for Social Enterprise training in Poland, leaving a group of 31 social enterprise leaders with a set of new skills, contacts and food for thought in their daily work with local communities. The British Council teamed up with the Foundation for Social and Economic Initiatives (FISE) to prepare this professional development programme aimed at social entrepreneurs that already run their social business or plan to launch one. 

The training was composed of three 2-day modules, each comprising 16 training hours and led by two facilitators. Participants represented a wide range of organisations from within the social economy sector: cooperatives, limited liability companies, social integration centres, vocational development centres, foundations, higher education institutions and others. Most came from all around Poland, with ca one third from Warsaw and the Mazowieckie region. The training methodology was all about interaction with the focus on mutual learning by sharing personal experiences and practical outcomes stemming therefrom. We were positively surprised by an exceptionally high level of engagement and willingness to network within the group, which was additionally fostered by the ‘learning partners’ activity. As a result, a number of ideas for joint projects were born among participants coming from the same region or a similar field of expertise.

The group was introduced to the core modules of the Activities Citizens training, which were all rooted in the social enterprise context. Especially ‘WE – THE COMMUNITY’ module proved to be helpful for participants in the context of mapping community assets, securing stakeholders and identifying customers and competitors for one’s social enterprise. In order to set the learning process in the Polish context, the programme was tailored to include an overview of different social enterprise business models and state support schemes available in Poland. The group also got a chance to visit a number of Warsaw-based social enterprises and explore the ways they function.

The aim that was set at the outset and then negotiated with programme participants was to support them in their efforts to boost local development, support sustainable growth and increase the involvement of citizens in social change; as well as help them develop a network of contacts and cooperation activities. How far these have been achieved is mostly to be seen further down the line when participants will be implementing action plans they drafted as part of the ‘ACTION and PLANNING for SUSTAINABILITY’ module. However, already at this stage it is comforting to see that the group was very motivated to test out the newly gained knowledge, act on mutual inspiration and work on possible joint projects.

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