In Spotting Trends


This report is part of the study “Social enterprises and their ecosystems in Europe” and it provides an overview of the social enterprise landscape in Sweden based on available information as of December 2018.


Intermediary Org: European Commission

Year: 2018


The interest in social enterprises has increased rapidly during the last decades in Sweden as in many other countries. The use of the concept continues evolving and a commonly agreed definition has yet to emerge— ‘different versions’ provide points of reference for different groups in society as well as in policy initiatives.

Even if the concept of social enterprise remains relatively new in the Swedish context, the phenomena referred to as such today have a long history and must be understood in relation to the development and strong position of public welfare structures as well as their current transformation.

During the pre-welfare state phase in history, social initiatives predominantly focused on those who experienced social disadvantages in a rather poor society. These types of charity initiatives during late 19th century combined with strong social movements such as the labour movement and democracy movement, highlighting equality and democracy which later characterised the Swedish welfare state.

Since late 20th century, services provided by the public sector have increasingly been subject to competition, thus growing the market for private welfare services– including those sold by social enterprises. Policies, procurements and different client choice models have not been limited to certain types of private initiatives. Social enterprises do therefore compete on the same market as non-profit organisations (NPOs) and conventional enterprises…