Key facts


Current population of Italy –

Data supplied by the World Bank


Current GDP of Italy –
2,107,702.84 ($ millions)

Data supplied by the World Bank

World Happiness Index

The Italy currently ranks 6.467 out of 10.

Since 2002, the World Happiness Report has used statistical analysis to determine the world’s happiest countries. To determine the world’s happiest country, researchers analysed comprehensive Gallup polling data from 149 countries for the past three years, specifically monitoring performance in six particular categories: gross domestic product per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make your own life choices, generosity of the general population, and perceptions of internal and external corruption levels.

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Social Enterprise Data

(Source: ESEM)

Country Fact sheet: Italy

Read The European Social Enterprise Monitor Report, 2021 – 2022

Country factsheet: ESEM SEs in Italy

(Source: ESEM)

Perceived Political Support Grade

  • 62.4% perceive national political support for social entrepreneurship to be low, very low or non-existent

Top 3 Business Sectors (UN ISIC)

  • Information and communication (22.7%)
  • Education (20.5%)
  • Professional, scientific and technical activities (18.2%)

Company Size (OECD)

  • Micro enterprises 80.7%
  • Small enterprises 8.0%
  • Medium enterprises 5.7%
  • Large enterprises 3.4%

Top 3 UN SDGs

#8 – Decent work and economic growth (51.1%)
#12 – Responsible consumption (45.5%)
#3 – Good health and wellbeing (34.1%)

Impact Management & Measurement

  • 63.6% currently measure their social/environmental impact; 33.0% plan to do so
  • 36.4% refer to the UN SDGs in impact reporting; 29.5% plan to do so

Top 3 Beneficiaries (Persons)

  • Individuals with a physical disability (18.2%)
  • Children/young individuals in general (15.9%)
  • Individuals with a learning disability (15.9%)

Top 3 Sources of External Financing

  • Public financing (45.5%)
  • Bank loan (29.5%)
  • Incubator, company builder, accelerator (18.2%)

Funding Gap

On average, they only managed to secure enough funding to meet 56.9% of their financing needs in the past 12 months

Top 3 Key Barriers

  • Too complex public financing (44.3%)
  • A lack of supportive fiscal framework (40.9%)
  • A lack of options to finance the organisation once started (36.4%)

Read Full Italy Factsheet

Key Stakeholders & Members

EN Members

Consorzio SIS – Sistema Imprese Sociale

Type of organisation: Social Enterprise Umbrella Organisation

Consorzio SIS is the strategic agency of its member social cooperatives. It promotes entrepreneurial development and social action. SIS’s core areas of activity include households and living, family life, health and well-being, fair and inclusive work and European cooperation.

Other Stakeholders


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Universities/Research Centres

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Key Policies

Key Legal and Policy Framework Overview


SEs have a longstanding history in Italy. In 1991, a first law dedicated to SEs was put in place. This law has helped the growth of the sector and led it to become a flourishing part of Italy’s economy. In new legislations, such as 155/2006 and 2016/2017, a general framework were introduced for the third sector of the economy.

Law 106/2016 and Legislative Decrees 117/2017 and 112/2017 on “the Reform of the Third sector, social enterprise and universal civil service”

This legislation aimed at reforming the third sector with a common framework to overcome its fragmentation (also in terms of fiscal advantages). It defines the meaning of “non-lucrative” and“general interest”, safeguarding the non-lucrative mission of SEs.

Established SEs are now allowed to distribute up to 50% of the profits generated in a year to investors (or donate them to other third-sector organisations), while at least 50% of the profits generated must be reinvested the SE and the assets must remain locked. Encourages the adoption of a more inclusive governance model for SEs. 

It recognises tax exemption for non-distributed profits and it introduces other targeted measures aimed at attracting investments (The most important one is the possibility offered to individual taxpayers to deduct from their tax payroll 30% of the capital invested  in new social enterprises, provided that this risk capital is maintained for at least 5 years up to a maximum amount of one million EUR).

Law 118/2005 and Legislative Decree 155/2006 on “Social Enterprise”

Introduced the legal category of “social enterprise”. Regardless of its legal form, an organisation can be regarded as social enterprise if: 
  • It is a private legal entity;
  • It engages in the regular production and exchange of goods and services having “social utility” (i.e., it engages in one or more of the entitled sectors specified by the same law) and seeking to achieve a public benefit purpose rather than to generate a profit.
    An organisation is considered a social enterprise if it generates at least 70% of its income from entrepreneurial activities
    (i.e., production and exchange of goods and services having social utility);
  • It is allowed to make a profit, but it cannot distribute it to its members or owners (non-distribution constraint). All profits have to be reinvested to further the SEs main statutory (public benefit) goal or to increase its assets, which are fully locked;
  • It is registered in the Social Enterprise Section of the Register of Enterprises managed by the Chamber of Commerce;
  • It publishes both its financial and social balance sheets.
Lack of fiscal advantages for SEs. In particular, they are subject to the payment of corporate tax, VAT, IRAP and social security costs just as any other enterprise.

Law 381/1991 on "Social Cooperatives"

  • Acknowledged a new cooperative form explicitly aimed at pursuing the general interest of the community. Social cooperatives are subject to the laws of the fields they operate in. 30% of their employed people must be from “disadvantaged” groups. 
  • They have the right of up to 25% reduction with regard to loans aimed at buying real estate for the working of the cooperative. 
  • Social cooperatives are exempted from the payment of Corporate tax (on 97% of non-distributed profits), social security contributions (reducing the cost of labour by about 20% to 25% depending on the sector of activity), inheritance tax, and enjoy a reduced VAT to 5% (from standard 22% in Italy).
  • Italian regions must dedicate to the promotion and development of social cooperatives. 

Law 142 and Law 241 of 1990

Offered municipalities willing to provide new social services the option to choose among different modalities, including the possibility of entrusting the delivery of services to private providers.

Financing and Support Measures

  1. Ministry of Economic Development’s Decree July 3rd 2015:
Support scheme dedicated to promoting the growth and strength of the social economy. It addresses legal entities defined by Law 118/2005 and Legislative Decree 155/2006; and Law 381/1991. It is financed through 223 million EUR and is managed by Invitalia.
  1. Start-up innovative a vocazione sociale – SIAVSs:
Support measures to innovative star-ups not targeted exclusively at the social economy. Beneficiary enterprises must pursue explicit general interest aims, provide evidence of the social impact generated and register in a special company register for innovative social start-ups. Innovative social start-ups are entitled to fiscal benefits that are more advantageous than those already awarded to innovative start-ups.
  1. Marcora Law (Law 49/1985):
Provides for a blending of self-financing and financing mechanisms specifically for cooperatives through the creation of two funds aimed at promoting and securing levels of employment in times of crisis, and for the conversion of businesses in crisis into worker cooperatives. The two funds are: Banca Nazionale del Lavoro; and Cooperazione Finanza Impresa

Key policy documents

Funding Partner

Relevant Resources

Relevant Research Experts

Leonardo Boni

Post-Doctoral Leonardo Boni Italy Universities & Institutions Politecnico di Milano Areas of Interest Impact finance; hybrid organisations Leonardo Boni is a Post-Doctoral scholar at Politecnico di Milano. He graduated at Bocconi University in Economics and Management of Innovation and Technology (EMIT) in 2014 and holds a specialization in Green Management and Sustainability. He worked as an analyst at Climate [...]

Francesco Gerli

PhD Candidate Francesco Gerli Italy Universities & Institutions Politecnico di Milano Areas of Interest Social Entrepreneurship, Hybrid organisation, Social Innovation, Transformative innovation.  Francesco Gerli is PhD Candidate at the Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering at Politecnico di Milano where he is affiliated at Tiresia, the International Research Center focused on the topics of Social Innovation and Social Impact Finance. [...]

Irene Bengo

Researcher Irene Bengo Italy Universities & Institutions Politecnico di Milano Areas of Interest Social Impact Measurement, Social Entrepreneurship, Sustainability. Irene Bengo is researcher in Management Engineering at Politecnico di Milano, her research focus on new, social and innovative management approaches, practices and tools for: social enterprise, enterprises networks, social innovation and social ecosystem. She is expert [...]

Veronica Chiodo

Senior Researcher/Assistant Professor Veronica Chiodo Italy Universities & Institutions Politecnico di Milano Areas of Interest Hybrid organizations, Social entrepreneurship, Social innovation, Impact Finance. Veronica Chiodo has a Ph.D. in Management Engineering and she is Junior Assistant Professor at the School of Management of Politecnico di Milano. She completed her M.Sc. in Social Economy in 2014 at the [...]

Mario Calderini

Professor Mario Calderini Italy Universities & Institutions Politecnico di Milano Areas of Interest Sustainability and Social challenges Entrepreneurship Mario Calderini, PhD in Economics at the University of Manchester, is Full Professor at the Politecnico di Milano, School of Management, where he teaches Business Strategy and Social Innovation; he also directs the Alta Scuola Politecnica, [...]

Rossella Canestrino

PhD Rossella Canestrino Italy Universities & Institutions Parthenope University of Naples Areas of Interest Knowledge Management Business Ethics Sustainability Cross-Cultural Management Networks At “Parthenope” University of Naples (Italy), she is Assistant Professorin Business Ethics and CSR within the master degree in Marketing and International Management. Rossella Canestrino, PhD, is Visiting Professor at University of Jaèn (Spain) [...]

Tommaso Minola

PhD Tommaso Minola Italy Universities & Institutions University of Bergamo Areas of Interest Entrepreneurship Start-up Corporate Venturing Academic Entrepreneurship Tommaso Minola is an Associate Professor at the Department of Management, Information and Production Engineering (DIGIP), and co-founder and Director of the Centre for Young and Family Enterprise (CYFE) at the University of Bergamo. In [...]

Luca Grilli

PhD Luca Grilli Italy Universities & Institutions Politecnico di Milano Areas of Interest Economics of innovative entrepreneurship Economics of network industries  Luca Grilli is Full Professor of Business and Industrial Economics at the Politecnico di Milano (Italy). His main research interests revolve around the economics of innovative entrepreneurship, the economics of network industries and [...]

Alessandra Colombelli

PhD Alessandra Colombelli Italy Universities & Institutions Politecnico di Torino Areas of Interest Strategy and Organisation Business Management Entrepreneurship Innovation Alessandra Colombelli is Associate Professor at Politecnico di Torino, where she teaches Strategy and Organisation and Business Management. She holds a PhD in Economics and Management of Technology and an MSc in Management Engineering from [...]

Anita Quas

PhD Anita Quas Italy Universities & Institutions University of Milan Areas of Interest Entrepreneurial finance Venture Capital Governmental Venture Capital Anita Quas is a Senior Researcher of Corporate Finance at the University of Milan, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative methods, since April 2019. Anita obtained her PhD at Politecnico di Milano and worked [...]

Benedetto L. Cannatelli

Assistant Professor Benedetto L. Cannatelli Italy Universities & Institutions UCSC Areas of Interest Entrepreneurship Strategic Management Benedetto is Assistant Professor  in Entrepreneurship and Strategy at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore and Founder of Railroad Brewing Co. and Strada Ferrata, two companies of the brewing and distillery sector. He is actively involved as researcher at [...]

Andrea Runfola

Professor Andrea Runfola Italy Universities & Institutions Università degli Studi di Perugia Areas of Interest Coming soon Biography coming soon ... See all work by this Author


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