Following the publication of a White Paper on Social Enterprises in July 2015, the Social Enterprise Act has recently been presented as a Bill to the Maltese Parliament. The Bill, currently in its second reading stage, is being debated in Parliament. In the event of its approval, the Bill would then be presented to the President of Malta for his assent and upon its publication in the Government Gazette, it becomes a Parliamentary Act. This is a step in the right direction towards Malta’s commitment to the social economy.
The purpose of this Bill is to regulate social enterprise organisations, to establish the Regulator and the Register for Social Enterprise Organisations and to provide for a framework for benefits to be enjoyed by such social enterprise organisations.
The Social Enterprise Bill establishes the parameters of how a social enterpriseorganisationis created, being an economic vehicle with social aims at heart. In terms of the Bill, social enterprises can be created as companies, partnerships, or cooperatives. Thus, the Bill also caters for variations in special laws relating to these economic vehicles, so as to reflect the principles of the Act. The Bill also seeks to reflect into Maltese law the principles provided for in the European Union Commission Regulation No. 651/2014 of 17thJune 2014.
Malta Enterprise, the country’s economic development agency, is currently working on introducing a new project with the aim of raising awareness regarding social enterprises and improving the understanding of social entrepreneurship. The FOSO-POCO (Fostering Social Entrepreneurship Ecosystems Post-COVID19) project, co-financed by the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) in the EU, focuses on regions in Cork (Ireland), Tartu (Estonia) and Malta. FOSO-POCO seeks to establish local frameworks to assist social enterprises, particularly in a post-COVID environment, with a view to furthering economic development and creating jobs in these regions. The project will also serve to assist promising social enterprises throughout their journey to launching their products or services, starting from the piloting and pitching phases, leading up to product or serviceinternationalisation.