SOFIGREEN Funded Project kicks off: MedWaves to extend experience in the design of capacity building methodologies to enhance sustainable entrepreneurship

Tuesday 05 March 2024

MedWaves, the UNEP/MAP Regional Activity Centre for SCP will be providing its unique experience in the design of capacity building methodologies to boost sustainable entrepreneurship.

SOFIGREEN is a European project geared to help deliver the European Green Deal vision to establish Europe as the first climate-neutral continent. The European Green Deal can only be achieved by empowering local and regional authorities with all local stakeholders in order to sustain a fair and green transition.

This EU-funded project connects to the European Commission vision to explore scenarios for a “transition pathway” to accelerate the green transition of the social economy, as part of the Proximity and Social economy industrial ecosystem, involving engagement with all interested subjects. The programme works with SMEs to ensure that they play a crucial role among these changemakers, fostering capacities and skills of SMEs to be able to improve sustainable management and green operations.

How we expand success:

SOFIGREEN is a programme to ensure that SMEs can fulfil their potential to create substantial global improvement. One of the great challenges in the business of a green transition is overcoming the gap in finance, particularly social and adapted finance. Facing the large-scale challenges of a green transition requires allocated financial support. Often, SSEEs face reluctant private investors and difficulty in accessing public funding.

Therefore, the heart of the SOFIGREEN programme amplifies the expanded value of relationships. The power of a sole business to understand, access and achieve success is much lower than that of a business that is connected to opportunities for multi-stakeholder collaborations. For example, mainstream SMEs, research institutions, public authorities and civil society each hold valuable insights and access to resources that can benefit social entrepreneurs. This can take place locally, regionally and across borders.

SOFIGREEN addresses these complex challenges ​​by utilising transnational cooperation to support SMEs in establishing a healthy level of investment readiness. SOFIGREEN partnerships draw together clusters of SSEs, social finance intermediaries, business support organisations (BSOs) and philanthropic foundations from three advanced social economic areas: Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes in France, Southern Italy regions and Andalucía in Spain. This process involves increasing awareness and access to financing instruments. Building on the multi-stakeholder and cross-border collaboration, knowledge sharing and mutual learning, SOFIGREEN drives a skill pathway to support SSEEs with capacity building, coaching, mentoring and financial support. This will result in empowered SSEEs able to:

  • Reshape their business models towards a triple bottom line sustainability;
  • Access adequate finance for the implementation of the needed investments for transition; and
  • Develop strong multi-stakeholder (mainstream SMEs, research, public authorities, etc.) and multi-level (local, regional, cross-border) collaborations to become transition leaders.

SOFIGREEN will select 90 enterprises based on the following principles:

  • An SME belonging to the social economy sector;
  • In a start-up or growth phase;
  • Presence of a clear potential to improve environmental performance;
  • Willingness to follow the path constantly;
  • Gender and age balance within the company; and
  • Preference to participants who demonstrate knowledge of foreign languages to ensure effective participation in transnational events and continuation of relations even beyond the events themselves.

Two capacity building courses, one for start-ups, one for growth enterprises, will be delivered in the target areas of Italy, France and Spain. A minimum of 90 Social and Solidarity Economy Enterprises (SSEEs) will be selected; 60 of which will receive further financial support and coaching to boost their investment readiness and ecosystemic approach. Ultimately, the SSEEs will be able to access necessary finance for their green transition. Upon completion, SSEEs will be able to:

  • Identify and evaluate skills to identify infrastructure and related investment needs required to meet climate targets in the long term;
  • Understand the required economic-financial planning to carry out such investments and access to finance opportunities;
  • Perform preliminary internal assessment of the sustainability performance, identifying strengths and weaknesses;
  • Analyse and map stakeholders with an ecosystemic approach;
  • Draft a business plan showing the economic sustainability of the planned investments; and
  • Seek impact finance.

To ensure that the goals of the SOFIGREEN are achieved, the consortium of participating partners will co-design a financial instrument targeted for SMEs launching a European Venture Philanthropy Fund. This will connect a network of local funds and financial intermediaries designed to invest patient capital in SSEEs. This model is relevant and useful for other territories to help scale financial resources for SSEEs engaged in the green transition.

Cross-border cooperation will be built through six transnational peer-learning and capacity-building sessions, involving target SMEs, partners and relevant stakeholders. Partners’ networks cover more than 60 EU territories and the MENA region, allowing for a wide dissemination and successful replicability.

MedWaves’s role: 

Given MedWaves’ extensive experience in the design of capacity building methodologies to boost sustainable entrepreneurship, MedWaves is leading the co-design process of the capacity-building package, developing the training tools and methodologies that will be used to equip SSEEs from France, Italy and Spain with essential skills to greening their business models and enhancing their access to finance.

MedWaves is also responsible for disbursing 6000€-9000 € grants to those participants who successfully finalised the training, to be used in financial coaching services. This targeted assistance aims to elevate the readiness of these enterprises for investment, a pivotal step in their growth trajectory. Moreover, the coaching extends beyond financial aspects, encompassing a holistic approach to sustainability.

Kick-off event, Barcelona 

The kick-off event for the SOFIGREEN (Social Finance for Social Greening) project took place on November 29, 2024, at the Nau Bostik, Barcelona. The event was preceded by a visit to the Nau Bostik, an example of Barcelona’s transformation of industrial remnants into contemporary cultural centers, and was followed by brief introductions by the different partners.

Let’s converge synergies and foster cooperation for Social Finance and Social Greening!

Giorgio Mosangini (Green Entrepreneurship & Civil Society Team Leader) presenting MedWaves during the SOFIGREEN kick-off event on November 29, 2024


Project details

  • Lead: Fondazione Messina (IT)
  • Partners: Réseau européen des villes et regions de l’economie sociale (BE); Féderation Européenne de Finances et Banques (BE); Banca Popolare Etica s.c.p.a. (IT); Fondazione Con Il Sud (IT); Groupe ARCHER (FR); Société Financière de la NEDF (FR); FAECTA (ES); MedWaves (ES).
  • Duration: 24 months
  • Total Budget: 1.051.307,78 (co-funded)
  • Website: