Social entrepreneurship, although a relatively new term, is not a new phenomenon on the island of Cyprus. The practice dates back 100s of years on the island, as helping others and creating a positive impact, are at the core of the population in Cyprus. An island torn by war, that led to thousands of individuals having to flee their own homes and becoming internally displaced, saw communities having to help one another to get back to normality. This was also reflected in the business world of the island and it is a common and reoccurring theme even through the years that followed the war.
The project BC4ESE, has explored the idea of social enterprises on the island and more specifically eco-social enterprises and some interesting findings were concluded at the end of IO1. Eco-social entrepreneurial practices are starting to become more and more popular on the island, especially in youth groups, yet there are multiple factors that hold back young entrepreneurs in putting their ideas to practice.
Along with the rest of the partners in the consortium, interviews were conducted to collect data on the struggles that young eco-social entrepreneurs face. Some key points in Cyprus that were highlighted included :
- Lack of clear information regarding tools and help for entrepreneurs
- Lack of legislation for entrepreneurs
- State run programs are in Greek, which ultimately limit the amount of help for entrepreneurs that do not speak the language
The encouraging aspect of this study showed that youth is willing to put in the work to implement their ideas although barriers exist and with the passing of the law regarding enterprises, enterprises will soon be able to register their organizations as social enterprises. This will allow social enterprises to have more benefits so that they will not be burdened with taxes and be legally recognized so that the banking system will be able to issue out loans – something not possible at the time being.
There is a lot of work to be done in the field of social enter[rises and more specifically eco-social enterprises, and with the help of the project BC4ESE, the change will be made sooner rather than later.