Equal theme
Get involved
Valid XHTML 1.1

C3 A Credible, Competitive and Confident Social Economy

Partnership information


efqm diagram


The UK Government in general, and Bristol City Council in this inistance, have recognised that social economy organisations (e.g. community owned businesses, co-operatives, local self-help groups) have a vital role in local economic development. The sector makes a valuable contribution to the local Bristol economy such as the provision of jobs and new routes into quality employment, capacity building, local democracy and the supply of goods and services to local communities. In Bristol, as elsewhere it is particularly strong in the environmental, health and care, education and cultural sectors. From audits of the sector carried out in 1999-2000 and 2004-5, it is estimated that the sector has grown faster than the mainstream economy and now contributes £275m to the local economy whilst employing more than 7,000 staff and 22,000 volunteers.

The sector also has a significant impact on equality by opening up opportunities for disadvantaged sectors of the community. The social economy sector comprises a wide spectrum of value driven organisations that range from social enterprises to community/voluntary organisations. The partnership recognises that social economy organisations face constraints in strategically planning and developing their enterprises, their resource base and their services and markets, instead being subject to short-term pressures.

Main Aims 

The aim is to develop working models that support social economy business advice and development organisations by integrating key elements of performance improvement and quality management approaches into their work. This will enable the sector to become more credible and competitive, leading to a fuller and more confident engagement in wider market opportunities.  The end result is to develop a stronger identity for the sector associated with quality products, employment, etc., to flesh out a system that allows social enterprises to develop quality assurance models that best suit their needs and to provide an improved range and quality of business support and advice to sector. The aim is to move away from fund raising and short term project-based funding for voluntary and community organisations towards developing an approach which shows that the organisation can adapt to change and become more focussed on their core business of delivering services to users.


  • To raise the credibility of the social economy sector: (indirectly) increasing the sector’s share of the market, improving the organisations’ market readiness (consumer, public sector and business to business), helping organisations to recruit and retain high quality staff, improving the sector’s ability to attract finances and develop their asset base, and developing a dialogue with mainstream policy makers and private enterprises.
  • To broaden and deepen the range and quality of support available for the social economy sector in the sub-regional area of Bristol
  • To enable social economy organisations to work more effectively and reach more individuals and community groups and make a greater impact on equalities issues;
  • To mainstream performance improvement and quality standard approaches relevant to the social economy and the different clusters of services available under the social economy.

Target Groups

organisations within the social economy of Bristol and its environs.



Round 1 to Round 2


Transnational partnerships


Ted Fowler, Bristol City Council, , James Town, Bristol City Council,


Action 2: 31 March 2008
Action 3: 31 March 2008

Equal theme

Social economy


For a number of years now, audits of the social economy sector have shown clearly how rapidly this sector is growing (7% per annum), and its impact on equality and diversity issues. These audits have also shown us what needs to happen at local level to make it grow. This partnership has come together to develop quality systems and a business approach to ensure a vibrant future for the social economy in Bristol and surrounding areas.

Intended impact/ sustainability

The DP will have engendered a cultural shift in community businesses and workers co-ops etc whereby the partnership has successfully promoted a more credible sector based on a practical vision: improvements in efficiency and orientation of operational and management processes resulting in a) improved risk, strategic and change management, b) improved access to markets - consumer buying, business to business trading and public sector procurement and c) improved access to and management of resources - people and money.

Scatter plot

Practice X X X
Product X
Policy X
City Local Regional National European


The lasting impact of the project is to build quality issues into advisors and mentors service to recipient third sector organisations.


The establishment of a Trading Association, with its own branding will have become embedded within the social economy of the region


An Association of European practitioners is established to develop, promote and champion the PERform toolkit.


The web based PERform toolkit will be available to all European states.


The lasting impact of the project is to build quality issues into funders expectations of recipient third sector organisations.

Move the mouse over the scatter plots to see more information or view all information without using the mouse.

Is this information correct?



Activities and products

 Records 1 to 6 of 6