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February 7, 2022

Lost partners

How anyone can assess whether the European structural funds that have been lost to the system by Brexit are being adequately replaced by the ironically named Shared Prosperity Fund is a mystery. But what these funds will never compensate for is the loss of the knowledge and cultural exchanges and the peer-led research programmes that so many communities have engaged with over the years. Argyll-based InspirAlba has recently collaborated with colleagues from Estonia, Finland, Germany and Romania to explore best practice in rural social enterprise. A great piece of work the likes of which we’re unlikely to see again.


After a three-year project collaboration, the international ViSEnet-team has gathered learning resources and best practices in an online free guide dedicated to rural social entrepreneurs: The Rural Social Enterprise Guidebook of Good Practice: Experience from Estonia, Finland, Germany, Romania and Scotland. 

Rural Social Enterprise Learning Material 

Although there are lots of materials available for establishing businesses, there is still a lack of material for community led social enterprise and particularly with a rural focus.  Because of the complex issues many rural areas are faced with, rural community led social enterprises need to gain broad understanding of socio-economic, cultural, political, and environmental factors as well as creative use of communication and project management skills. 

To address these issues the ViSEnet project combined the experience of five partners to provide learning material that is based on the identified best practices in rural context. 

The learning material consists of three chapters: 1) Community involvement, 2) Networking and partnerships and 3) Social enterprise solutions. 

The leading principle has been to keep learning materials very practice oriented and meant for self-study. They primarily take the format of online resources and easily downloadable PDFs, each short and concise enough to be easily overseen and understood. They are also easy to share, reproduce and use within a community context. The learning material can be found from the ViSEnet Online Learning Resources and ILIAS, an open source learning management system used, e.g., in university teaching. 

Join in the International Network of Rural Social Enterprises in the Rural Social Enterprise Hub

The other leading principle in ViSEnet has been the value of peer support, networking and collaboration, which can sometimes feel difficult in a rural and remote context.  To encourage rural communities to interact, the project has organised several virtual community meetings bringing experience from across Europewith different topics. The learning exchange will continue in the Rural Social Enterprise Hub which is a networking platform for collaboration, peer to peer learning, and knowledge exchange between all those committed to thriving rural community led and social enterprise. The Hub welcome interactions with social enterprises and supporters across the globe.  

The Rural Social Enterprise Guidebook of Good Practice: Experience from Estonia, Finland, Germany, Romania and Scotland

The guidebook material will support creating and developing community-based social enterprises, to estimate the benefits and challenges and to find new ideas for developing your own community-based social enterprise. It also offers practical guidelines and methods of establish your community-based social enterprise and to avoid the main pitfalls.

The Guidebook is available in English, also the summaries translated into the project partner national languages. These will are available as PDFs from the ViSEnet Online Learning Recourses in the Rural Social Enterprise Hub

ViSEnet stands for Rural Social Enterprise learning material, guidance, and networking

The ViSEnet-project aimed to support the creation and development of community-based social enterprises in rural areas through the designing of a range of learning materials specifically targeted at supporting and developing social entrepreneurship in rural areas. The project had three outputs: Rural Social Enterprise Learning Material, International Network of Rural Social Enterprises, and practical Guidebook of Good Practices for supporting the development of social entrepreneurship (SE) in rural areas.

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