SME in the EU: adelphi explores sustainable welfare systems for the mid tier

As part of a wider project adelphi explores best practice and innovative patterns in providing social and sustainable services in the EU. The research also aims to uncover how networks of SMEs can set up systems to provide such services and which role not-for-profit businesses play in that field.


Driven by reforms imposed through the economic and financial crisis governments in the EU tend to reduce the provision of welfare services. For instance, state-based welfare systems are withdrawing and are no longer capable to deliver social or ecological services with the same coverage and the same level of quality as in past decades.

Partly, large corporate companies try to fill the gap and provide basic welfare services like corporate pensions schemes or childcare services. However, most employees are working for SMEs. Thus, it will be of essential importance in the future to ensure that networks and groups of SMEs develop approaches and tools to provide social services to their employees as well.

Social businesses in the sense of not-for-profit enterprises will play an essential role in that context. Social businesses can provide social services at lower costs and with a more dedicated workforce.

adelphi will analyze the current situation, identify best practice, depict rules and regulations as well as policies which support social service provision by SMEs and by means of social businesses and prepare a short paper. The paper has been discussed at a conference in Milan in July 2014.