In EnglishDo not offer square soltions to all, because some people are round. We have got bats in the belfry, drug abuse in our baggage, criminal thoughts, disabilities, stress symptoms and 12 social enterprises with a turnover of SEK 41 million a year.
The Vägen ut! co-operatives was founded 2002 in Göteborg, Sweden’s second city. A partnership was set up to run an EQUAL project with the objective to create social enterprises. It involved the authorities Försäkringskassan (health insurance), Kriminalvården (Prison and Probation service), Arbetsförmedlingen (employment office), Coompanion (cooperativ development agency) and other professional organizations.
From allowance to self employment
At the end of the project three social co-operative enterprises was developed: Villa Vägen ut! Solberg (a halfway house for men), Karins Döttrar (a handicraft co-operative for women) and Café Solberg. Together they initiated the consortium Vägen ut! which today includes ten social enterprises. Vägen ut! still often work in a broad partnership with the above mentioned public authorities/agencies as well as a number of concerned ngos.
Enterprises with double commissions
The co-operative enterprises in Vägen ut! offers services and products and create real jobs for persons far from the regular job market. Today the Vägen ut! enterprises have around 100 employees, more than half are self employed members and part owners. By its methods and models Vägen ut! is considered a successful social innovation. It has a very positive impact on furthering social inclusion.
Studies has confirmed what we already knew, that self-experience is crucial in our work to support persons that have left drug addiction and criminality. It gives hope and shows that empowerment is possible.
Accessability and diversity
Vägen ut! is an including organization, meaning that all kinds of people are welcome. For us diversity is a resource and a guarantee for a positive developement, creative working places and employees.
Social work is often about experts ”treating” clients who, as a result of the treatment, become passive and depending on allowance. Vägen ut!’s method offers the opposite. It’s process oriented, run by the participants and is built on aid to helping oneself. The co-operatives in Vägen ut! all have a clear empowerment perspective in their processes and everyday work. The result of that is both indepence for the individual and a good sence of responsability.
To own the problem is to carry the solution
In work based on aid to helping oneself there is no superior - or subordination in the relations between involded persons. Nor is that possible in relations with experts, those who can and those who can’t.
Research shows that it works
Scientists from The Institution for Social Work at the University of Gothenburg followed our work during three years. Their conclusion was that ”work in social cooperatives is rehab for drug addicts and criminals that works”. They could also verify that for a person at a turningpoint in life, the everyday work in a strong and closely united work group provides structure and safety. In the study it also becomes apparent the importance of being able to identify one self with others in the group.
Social franchising means using and developing the franchising method to achieve social goals. In social franchising, there is a founder, just like in any franchise. The starting point for the franchisor is to spread its ideas, share its experiences, and build a community. The social goals are fundamental, and often include contributing to the creation of more jobs. In this form of franchising, exchange and learning through contacts with those who started earlier are important for the new social entrepreneurs. By defining the keys to success and documenting them in manuals, and by developing training courses based on them, a group of entrepreneurs can gain access to knowledge and experience. It’s an innovative method so far used to disseminate and transfer knowledge in the specific areas of half way houses and Le Mat hotel/bed and breakfast. Vägen ut! and Le Mat has created a network of social franchising at European level, the European Social Franchising Network. It has also members in UK, Finland and Germany.
You will find more to read in English at Att läsa / In English.