General Presentation

Aims and Objectives

Social Firms Europe CEFEC has been in existence since 1987. It is a well established and respected network which has the following VISION:

Social Firms and social co-operatives are in every European town and country. By leading this movement, Social Firms Europe CEFEC helps individuals who otherwise face stigma and discrimination, to overcome their social and economic exclusion through employment.

The MISSION statement of Social Firms Europe CEFEC is:

To initiate and stimulate any development of cooperatives, social firms and social enterprises or any social economy initiative supporting the rehabilitation, training and employment of persons which face mental health problems, disability or other vulnerability and therefore suffer under social exclusion.

In order to be able to fulfil the vision and mission statements outlined above, Social Firms Europe CEFEC has the following aims and objectives in place:

  1. To raise the level of understanding and increase the profile of Social Firms and social co-operatives across Europe
    1. Ensure that the website is informative, intuitive and valuable as a primary resource on Social Firms across Europe
    2. Build and maintain relationships and communications with key policy parties at EU level to improve their awareness about Social Firms
    3. Use and build on existing research (e.g. the Linz Appeal) to create an evidence base and lobby policy at European and national levels
    4. Ensure wide promotion to a broader audience of the annual conference and content that builds awareness
    5. Use the European Social Firm of the Year Award to increase publicity, inspire involvement and build awareness of the Social Firm model
  2. To increase and serve the membership
    1. Set up and maintain an efficient membership database operated from the base of the Secretary General
    2. Create a database of interested parties; re-contact and promote membership
    3. Communicate regularly with members via email to keep them in touch of developments and opportunities
    4. Seek case studies and news from members which can be shared and profiled
    5. Ensure that the annual conference is effective in meeting members interests and needs, facilitating networking and sharing of experiences across Europe
  3. To become more financially sustainable and influential as a European Network
    1. Increase the membership
    2. Keep the costs of the Secretariat manageable within the available annual budget
    3. Manage the finances, reporting accurately and regularly on the financial situation to the executive committee and the members
    4. Seek sponsorship to meet the costs and overheads for the annual European Social Firm of the Year Award
    5. Work with each conference host country to maximize profits made on the event and negotiate a financial contribution to Social Firms Europe CEFEC
    6. Encourage members to partner in projects which include a financial contribution to Social Firms Europe CEFEC
    7. Identify and apply for EU projects which suit, complement and build on the core mission of Social Firms Europe CEFEC
    8. Consider and build strategic partnership opportunities that assist with the sustainability objective of the network


Social Firms Europe CEFEC believes that:

  • People who are systematically excluded from work by society because of disability or disadvantage should have the right to the rewards and status of work;
  • The provision of such remedial work opportunities is best effected in market-orientated and community-based work enterprises, which are part of everyday economic activity;
  • Self-organising and co-operative forms of enterprise are the best methods of achieving such work opportunities;
  • As a result of the functioning of such enterprises, an additional element of social production arises, which is of value both to society and to the individual concerned;
  • The disadvantage of Social Firms in the market place must be compensated financially through the medium of laws and regulations enacted by the local and national state;
  • The associative and normalizing benefits of work should enable the individual to take a full and active place in society;
  • It is essential to provide vocational training of users in close connection with, and leading to, the provision of permanent jobs;
  • Vocational training of management staff is essential in order to run training initiatives and Social Firms / social co-operatives;
  • It is essential to promote research into vocational training and work in association with Social Firms and social co-operatives in order to elaborate knowledge and understanding;
  • It is important to monitor and measure the effectiveness of enterprises in order for best practice to be disseminated and adopted;
  • It should be a goal of the organization to work with the population at large in order to sensitize society to the rights and problems of the people Social Firms Europe CEFEC seeks to support;
  • Overall, it should be a goal of the organization to achieve a change of culture within Europe, which facilitates the specific aims of the organization.

The best methods of achieving those are:

  • The exchange of information and experience; the organization of practical activities such as conferences and training;
  • The development of economic and technical co-operation between members;
  • The promotion of scientific and cultural research;
  • The amendment of laws and regulations concerning welfare and the labour market;
  • The promotion of a change of emphasis in existing and forthcoming EU programmes in favour of the aims of Social Firms Europe CEFEC.


The principles of Social Firms Europe CEFEC state that all countries should be encouraged to recognize the right to work for people with severe disadvantages and it is the duty of the state to find the additional resources which will make this possible.

The Right To Work For People With Severe Disadvantages

In this Charter we demand the right to work for people marginalized by mental health issues, other disabilities and other severe disadvantages. This includes both the opportunity to participate in the social process of work and to be fully economically active. Work is fundamental to society and therefore the opportunity to work is an essential pre-requisite to full membership of society.

Accepting the right to work is not the same as constructing an obligation to work. The person with disabilities or other severe disadvantages should have the right to determine the degree to which they participate in the working world, and information about the choices should be available.

Where an individual chooses to take up employment, remuneration should be at a level appropriate to the job with the possibility of receiving a full living wage of that country.

It is the duty of society to establish conditions and provide work opportunities, which will enable each individual to find work.

People with disabilities and other severe disadvantages should have the same right to good working conditions as anyone else and should benefit as prevailing standards are improved across Europe. Therefore the right to work must not be restricted by substandard conditions of work.

Working conditions should include:

  • Long term employment secured by work contracts;
  • Establishing and maintaining high standards in the quality of the working environment and in the methods of production;
  • The initiation of equal opportunities policies in all aspects of the work including full access to the work place for all people.

Vocational rehabilitation must be provided and not be limited to training for one specific job. Account must be taken of the need for personal development and for the encouragement of individual talents and aptitudes.

The state should ensure that anyone with disabilities should be able to move from the unpaid occupation of a person undergoing rehabilitation to paid employment. Whilst this process should not be made artificially long, allowance should be made for gradual progress where necessary and for relapse without penalty.


Excerpt from the Statutes

Name, seat and purpose of the confederation
The name of the association is: Confederation of European social Firms, Employment initiatives and social Co-operatives (CEFEC). The association has its seat in Brussels, Belgium. It can be transferred to any other place within Belgium through a simple decision of the Executive Committee. Every transfer of the seat shall be made public in the supplements of the Belgian ‘Staatsblad’.

The purpose of the association is:
To initiate and to stimulate firms, employment initiatives and co-operatives on behalf of the rehabilitation and employment of people with mental health problems and other socially marginalized persons in the countries of the European Union and other European states, to give form and content to the international co-operation in these fields. The purpose has been worked out in the CEFEC guidelines and the CEFEC principles.

The association consists of members, that have to be legal persons and supporters, who can be natural as well as legal persons. There are three categories of membership:

  • Full Members
  • Supporting Organisation Members
  • Individual Members

The number of members is unlimited, with a minimum of three.

Decision-making bodies in the confederation:

  1. The Executive Committee
    The association is managed by an Executive Committee, consisting of representatives (being natural persons) of the legal persons, with a minimum of three members and a maximum that is equal to the number of countries that are represented in the confederation, every member being a delegation from a different country. The members of the Executive Committee are appointed by the General Assembly for a period of three years. The list of candidate committee members is distributed together with the invitation for the General Assembly. Membership of the Executive Committee also ends, except for the period mentioned before, following a decision of the General Assembly, by requesting dismissal by registered letter, when placed under legal restraint in case of bankruptcy, upon decease, in case of exclusion, in case of an application for suspension of payment.The Executive Committee elects from its members a Chairperson (President), a General Secretary, and a Treasurer.
  2. The General Assembly
    The General Assembly meeting takes place at least once a year. The General Assembly convoked by the Chairperson of the Executive Committee, or on request of the majority of the members. All members and supporters of the association are invited and receive a convocation for the General Assembly. The General Assembly will be held on the day, hour and place as announced in the convocation. The convocation of the General Assembly will be sent at least one month before the meeting, together with the agenda of the meeting. The General Assembly is presided by the Chairperson (President) of the Executive Committee., or, in the case of his/her absence, by any other member of the Executive Committee. Every member and supporter has the right to be present and to take part in the General Assembly personally or through representation. The representative need not be a member of the association. Every Full and Individual Member has the right to one vote; Supporting Organisation members have no right to vote.The following items demand the deliberation of the General Assembly:
    Changing the articles, appointing and resigning of members of the Executive Committee, dissolving the association, excluding members. Decisions are made by majority of votes of the members. Decisions are valid when made with a majority of the members present, or when the present minority is filled up with written votes of not present members to a majority of votes. When making a decision it is not allowed to depart from the agenda.

Annual Membership Fees:
Full Members: 150 euros for < 20 staff; 300 euros for > 20 staff;
Supporting Organisation Members: 150 euros
Individual Members: 25 euros