Social Enterprise Day (1st July), Seoul Social Economy Week

GSEF is pleased to celebrate ‘2016 Social Enterprise Day (1st July 2016)’ which is the 1st establishment of national social enterprise day in Korea to commemorate 4th year since the enactment of the social enterprise promotion Act in 1st July 2007. The Act became a cornerstone of creating an eco-system of fostering social enterprises through legal and policy support from the public sectors and the civil society’s bottom-up contributions to it.


The first social enterprise day this year is particularly meaningful as it is going to be celebrated in conjunction with 2016 international Co-operative day (2nd July). In Seoul, 1st week of July has been designated as ‘social economy week’ and the city is engaging with citizens to promote values of social enterprises and co-operatives for the sustainable urban development. In Busan, which is the second largest cities in Korea, celebrating the day through hosting various exhibitions and events to increase public awareness of the value of social enterprises. Korea is actively joining the international movement of promoting co-operatives and social enterprises by acknowledging their potential in sustainable urban development, and further achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


Social Enterprises (including co-operative enterprises) are the epitome of social economy in that it promotes democracy, solidarity, equity, decent employment and social protection through its economic activities which aim to achieve ‘maximization of social values’ rather than profits. The impacts of social enterprises on our society are significant as they are forefront of achieving sustainable socioeconomic development by employing marginalized groups in the most deprived parts of society and providing social service while contributing to inclusive economic growth.


The potential of social enterprises has proven its sustainability and capacity to resolve social issues.
For example in the UK, according to Social Enterprise UK, social enterprises have shown its superiority over mainstream SMEs (2014 – 2015) in terms of its contribution to economic recovery (grew of turnover, social enterprises 52%, SMEs 42%), innovation (brining new products or service, social enterprise increased to 59%, SMEs fallen to 38%) and job creations (social enterprise increased to 41%, SMEs 22%). In Quebec, social enterprises (including co-operative enterprises) account 8% of Quebec’s GDP, while creating more than 150,000 jobs. And in Korea, social enterprises which were granted license issues by the government for the first time in 2007, showed three times higher survival rate than those self-employed business.


In Europe, renowned Mondragon Cooperative Corporation, despite financial crisis in 2008, has increased its employment by 15,000. Across different continents, social enterprises are demonstrating their relevance particularly with regard to the SDGs No.8 (decent work and economic growth) as well as No.10 (reduced inequality).


GSEF, as a global hub for promoting social economy strongly encourages its members, UN agencies and international stakeholders put their utmost efforts on fostering social enterprises for inclusive and sustainable economic development. Considering the acceleration of globalization trends and integration of world economy, social enterprises should be able to cooperate across borders through trades and the exchange of innovative ideas.


On the first social enterprise day in Korea, GSEF urges to other countries, international networks to join the efforts of increasing public awareness of the values of cooperatives and social enterprises and we hope to see the movements get connected worldwide and to pave the ways of achieving the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development.


Let’s make positive change together!