In Spotting Trends


This report provides an overview of the roots, concept, legal evolution, numbers and eco-system of social enterprise in Belgium and the challenges it faces. 


Intermediary Org:
European Commission

Year: 2016


In the first section, a number of roots and drivers are described that have paved the way for the current understanding and landscape of social enterprise in Belgium. These roots include the associative tradition, the cooperative movement, the tradition of mutuals, the (new) social economy and the more recent business-oriented approach. The role of public policies and philanthropic actors is also discussed.

main ideal types are identified based on their underlying dynamics: (i) the entrepreneurial approach to the general interest (typically embodied by associations and foundations); (ii) the combination of mutual and general interest (typically embodied by cooperatives and mutuals); and (iii) the more borderline case of businesses that combine private and general interest. In this section, the social purpose company framework is presented, as well as a number of certification schemes.

In the third section on measuring social enterprises, two approaches are distinguished: bottom-up and inclusive. Figures are presented based on studies following each approach, with the inclusive approach providing the most comprehensive number of more than 18 000 social enterprises in Belgium. Figures on employment, growth rates, legal forms and activity sectors are also presented