Social enterprises are those that operate on the market for the collective benefit of its users and/or employees and generate economic and social value without giving priority to capital earnings. They behave in a respectful, transparent, and civic-minded manner towards their employees and target customers and are committed to a sustainable, responsible, and intelligent development. They focus on solutions to social needs which are not being met or not met in an adequate manner by the public sector or by the for-profit private sector.

Most of these social enterprises fall under the umbrella of what is known as the Social and Solidarity-based Economy, whose traditional forms across history have been cooperatives, mutual societies, and associations.

SSE and social enterprises:

The Social and Solidarity-based Economy is defined according to the following criteria:

Voluntary membership (as well as voluntary termination of said membership)

Limitation of gains and no individual appropriation of profits.

Democratic and participative management based on the principle of “one person, one vote” and autonomy of governance, especially in regards to public authorities

Projects geared towards the common good or public interest

Private or private/public initiatives and funding

3 kinds of organisations have historically constituted its social basis: cooperatives, mutual societies, and associations that engage in economic activities.

The concept of a social enterprise is that of a capital-based company that complies with the essential SSE criteria.


Social and solidarity-based companies have decisive competitive advantages: Since they are deeply rooted in the local territory, they are able to gain a good understanding of the needs of the people and are in a position to find the best solutions for them whilst creating local occupation without any speculative interest whatsoever. Rather the opposite is true: They often lack the necessary assets and leadership capabilities that would allow them to consider more ambitious plans based on national or international partnerships.

Here is where iesMed comes into the picture. The organisation is able to give them access to any resources they may need to leverage their development, be they financial, technical, or related to the formation of partnerships.