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Social enterprises wait two years for White Paper talks

Public consultation process closed in April 2015

Kopin sent a postcard with a snail (pictured above) to every Member of Parliament in the hopes that the Social Enterprise Bill will be put back on the political agenda.Kopin sent a postcard with a snail (pictured above) to every Member of Parliament in the hopes that the Social Enterprise Bill will be put back on the political agenda.

Social enterprises have been left waiting for Parliament to discuss a White Paper for over two years, after the Economy Ministry closed a public consultation in April 2015.

The Social Enterprises White Paper, launched that same year, has been languishing on the shelf and has not been discussed in Parliament, prompting outrage from the NGO Kopin (Koperazzjoni Internazzjonali).

Social Enterprises are organisations that work in favour of humanitarian or environmental causes. They are often not given their deserved importance, Kopin explained.

Absence of regularisation has impeded on their ability to obtain bank loans and incentives which are crucial for enterprises which focus on social issues.

“Social Enterprises do not make (or aim to make) the same profits as conventional businesses, as they often have a social or environmental aim behind their work,” the NGO said in a statement.

Having to fit into “conventional business models” meant that social entities had to abide by the same standards and rules as other corporate entities while lacking programmes that support them, the NGO said.

They are more resilient to economic crisis

Parliament does not seem to give enough importance to enterprises that do not make as much profit as other companies, Kopin project co-ordinator Michelle Chebab said.

But social enterprises can reap positive financial results as well, Kopin insisted, saying that the humanitarian organisations have shown to be more resilient to economic crisis than traditional, profit-based models.

The delay has prompted Kopin to send a postcard with a picture of a snail to every Member of Parliament. They hope that the message will inspire the government to put the Bill back on the political agenda.

Social enterprises should be given their due importance, Mrs Chebab insisted.

The Bill will provide legal clarity to humanitarian and environmental businesses, and will encourage entrepreneurs to inv-est in ventures which leave positive effects on society.

The White Paper only establishes the definition and criteria of a social enterprise. It fails, however, to provide guidelines for financial aid and incentives, despite Kopin calling on it to do so, Ms Chebab said.

The Economy Ministry has not replied to questions regarding the delay in the discussion of the Social Enterprise Bill.

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