Energie Solidali is a B-type social cooperative, which promotes work integration of disadvantaged people, especially those who have problems related to alcohol or drugs addiction, psychiatric disease, psychological distress and physical disability and for convicts admitted to alternative measures. It offers to public and private clients different kinds of services: maintenance of green spaces, gardening, cleaning, cemetery services and segregated collection of waste. Disadvantaged people are integrated in work teams to learn professional skills on the job: they are guided to the awareness of rules that a job entails; they are then supported in maintaining their employment status.
Description of scaling process
In 2013 Energie Solidali decided to create a new branch offering an innovative service of solar panels cleaning. It was considered a new interesting market opportunity because solar panels were being increasingly used and there weren’t many companies offering cleaning and maintenance services. The social purpose of the project is to provide disadvantaged workers with a job that allows them to be reintroduced and educated to the job market through solar panel cleaning. Additionally, an ICT process and a customer satisfaction monitoring service have been integrated in the project. With the maintenance of photovoltaic plants, Energie Solidali wants in particular to:
Create new jobs;
Generate psycho-social well-being;
Increase business competitiveness;
Generate savings for public spending;
Promote environmental actions.
In terms of quantitative results, 12 people of Mantova now have a job; four of them are disadvantaged workers and workers coming from companies that have shut operations; the project produced an annual income of 105 000 Euros, additional turnover and more than 200-hours of training.
The project was funded by the Fondazione Comunità Mantovana and was selected as one of the nine best projects of entrepreneurial social innovation in the framework of the SOc.in.net of Innovation Network 2013-14 of the CGM consortium. CGM (Italian network of social cooperatives and enterprises, member of DIESIS) project provided support in terms of training, advice, business coaching, contacts with local authorities. It was very useful because it helped to assess the market and the capacity of managers to deal with the changes connected to the scaling. A major challenge was the need to adapt its marketing strategy to private customers; as Energie Solidali until then worked primarily for the public sector.