Social Empowerment in the making

The 7th transnational meeting of the SEMPRE project took place in the middle of March, in the city of Vaasa, Finland. The project, that will come to an end in the beginning of 2019, is currently in its 3rd phase and starting to render results.

The main scope of the SEMPRE project is to promote the involvement of end users in the process of co-creation of a social service in rural areas of the Baltic Sea Region, based on the empowerment idea.

The meeting in Vaasa offered new insights into the methods and tools employed by the partners of the project in their work with end users and how these have empowered them to create and develop micro projects together, many of them proving to be success stories.

One fruitful example, as it were, of the project’s efforts is a micro initiative started by Companion Norrbotten, that helped immigrant women establish a cooperative and open a tailor shop. The textile fruit bags produced by them are now sold in COOP Luleå. The SEMPRE project currently counts over 30 end user-driven micro projects developed with the help of the partners involved.

Nordregio’s main role in the project is the development of an “Empowerment Handbook”, drawing from the project partners’ experiences throughout the whole 3-stage process of service development and innovation. Furthermore, Nordregio will also develop a series of policy recommendations directed at the decision-makers at the local, national and EU levels. The Handbook is currently under development and the 7th SEMPRE meeting, in Vaasa, has offered valuable input from the partners.

Co-creation and empowerment

The main scope of the SEMPRE project is to promote the involvement of end users in the process of co-creation of a social service in rural areas of the Baltic Sea Region, based on the empowerment idea. The project aims to give people in rural areas – especially those belonging to vulnerable groups such as as single parents, elderly members of society or migrants – a better say in their future and to strengthen their ability to get involved in social innovation processes.

This has been done by applying the empowerment tools in the process of the end users’ needs assessment and during the development and implementation of the end-users’ driven micro projects. Some of these micro projects are expected to become self-sustained social enterprises (or other organizational forms) by the end of the project, thus bringing more favourable socioeconomic conditions in rural areas of the Baltic Sea Region.




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