CASE STUDY: “Hermes Thessaly”, Greece

“Hermes Thessaly” is a Development Partnership established from 13 partner organizations (5 Municipalities, Thessaly Trade Federation, 3 Women Associations, Vocational Training Center, Local Development Agency and Asset Technology) which designed and implemented the initiative “Local Action Plan for the Promotion of Employment” in the Regional Unit of Karditsa of the Thessaly Region.

The motivation was to mobilise local stakeholders to join their forces under a formal entity (NGO “Hermes Thessaly Development Partnership”) and undertake a complete, innovative intervention to support young people promotion to employment and (social) entrepreneurship.

The community action responded mainly to two Sustainable Development Goals: SDG 8 – Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all and SDG 4 – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Topic Description
Title Local Action Plan for the Promotion of Employment in Thessaly
Location Regional Unit of Karditsa, Thessaly Region
Time 2016-2018
SDG No SDG 8 & SDG 4
Brief Description The Regional Unit of Karditsa is a rural area with increased unemployment rates, low educational level, existence of a large number of vulnerable groups and underdeveloped business and economic activity due to the financial crisis. On the other hand the region has significant competitive advantages and growth potential. Considering these problems and advantages, “Hermes Thessaly” Development Partnership designed and implemented a comprehensive project to support employment and (social) entrepreneurship.
Beneficiaries 110 beneficiaries, unemployed or young scientists, with emphasis on women and young people
Impact Project results: 1 “One Stop Shop” Service, 20 Cooperation Agreements – Synergies, 5 Training programmes, 9.592 m/h of training, 450 Counseling sessions, 6 Thematic workshops, 10 people in employment (local enterprises), 11 social entrepreneurship teams (and respective business plans).

The initiative was very successful and was highlighted as one of the most successful local interventions in Greece. The impact succeeded was the wider awareness and development of the social economy ecosystem and the effect to the local communities (training results, more people in employment and entrepreneurship).

Social Innovation The social innovation is identified: a) in the synthesis of the Development Partnership which brought together 13 organisations with different types and expertise which cooperated for the project design and implementation and b) the complete and integrated nature of the intervention which introduced a comprehensive methodology with stage by stage development and support.
Constraints The main problems encountered were related to the actual goals of the initiative i.e. the youth promotion to social entrepreneurship. On one hand the Social Economy sector was still in early stage and the beneficiaries didn’t have the knowledge of what it is and how it works and on the other hand the participants, especially young people, felt that they don’t have the required skills to proceed with a business venture.
Sustainability The results have been sustainable as the project contributed to the establishment of social enterprises and the promotion of young people in employment. The project could continue with relevant funding support (public or private) in order to offer the services free of charge.
TransferabilityReplicability The project idea and scope was applied also to other underdeveloped areas with the relevant adaptations in the synthesis of partners and the target groups. 

The approach has also been replicated for the design of other projects, taking into account the available budget and the specific goals.

Lessons Learned – Conclusions The main requirements for a successful initiative are: Analysis of the current situation and identification of the actual needs; synergy and collaboration of a broad network of relevant stakeholders; realistic planning and a lot of effort!

An incubator/accelerator could be part of the initiative and the total effort. This could improve sustainability and act as a permanent support structure complementary to the support services provided.