Social economy at a glance
Although there is not yet an applicable law on social economy in Cyprus, some entities, under certain legal forms, can be recognised as part of the social economy. Therefore, one can estimate that there were 190 de facto social economy entities in Cyprus in 2017:
- 20 Cooperatives
- 50 Associations
- 20 Foundations,
- 100 Limited Liability Companies
Source: Social Enterprises and their ecosystems in Europe, Country Reports, Cyprus, 2019
* For this website we included this overall assessment of the level of development, it is based on the data and information about the social economy ecosystem currently available and therefore has some limitations. However, we still considered it useful to include this overall assessment.
** Source: EESC/CIRIEC (2016) Recent evolutions of the Social Economy in the European Union, please note that this estimate is on the high end as it is based on organisation type and did not apply a more narrow check for all elements in the social economy definition.
For more details on the data quality see our note on social economy data.
Tradition and origins
Cyprus has had a long tradition of socially oriented activities carried out by foundations, associations and volunteer groups for more than a century. However, it is only recently that such activities have been formalised under the concept of social economy.
Cooperatives also have a long history in Cyprus. Since the beginning of the 20th century, they started to take an important role especially from the 1930s, with the strong development of cooperative banks.
Since the 2010s, the term "social enterprise" has started to appear in Cyprus, and gained some interest from the policymaking and economic sector. Different sort of social enterprises thus emerged: social enterprises pursuing a general purpose and social enterprises pursuing inclusion purposes. Social cooperatives have also started to develop.
Framework conditions and social economy ecosystem
Policy and legal framework
Cyprus is preparing the implementation of a law on social enterprises. This law will recognize two different kinds of social enterprises: general purpose social enterprises and social inclusion/integration enterprises.
Furthermore, to enhance the development of the social enterprise ecosystem, Cyprus has prepared a "Action Plan for an Ecosystem Development to support social enterprises".
Once implemented, the action plan will enable the mobilisation of the European Social Fund to develop financial and training incentives in favour of the social enterprises, to enhance the visibility of the sector, and to establish incubators.
The rest of the sector is framed by dedicated laws on some specific legal forms:
- Legislation of Cooperative Societies (Cap 114 & Law 28/1959)
- Legislation of Associations (57/1972 & 85(I)/1997)
- Legislation on Foundations (57/1972 & 85(I)/1997)
Policymakers in the field of the social economy
At national level, different ministries and national authorities are involved in the support of the social economy:
- The Authority of Cooperative Societies is the National Agency promotes cooperative and social enterprises. It is in charge of keeping the registeries on social enterprises, and of monitoring their compliance with the criteria imposed by the upcoming legislation.
- The Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance is also involved, especially in supporting social economy entities promoting inclusion.
- Other ministries and authorities (Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Finance, the National Authority for Innovation) can provide dedicated schemes and measures in favour of the social economy, such as targeted subsidies for social and inclusive entrepreneurship or tax exemptions.
On the local level, if municipalities and Community councils do have an interest in the social economy, there is no specific local schemes that can be pinpointed at this stage.
Networks, federation and representative entities
Some networks have started to develop in Cyprus, they represent some specific parts and activities of the social economy in the country:
- The Cyprus Network for Social Entrepreneurship is the main community of social entrepreneurs in Cyprus.
- The Cyprus Circular Economy Network
How to get involved in the social economy in Cyprus?
Beyond volunteering activities, promoted through platforms such as The Cyprus Youth Board, Cyprus growingly promotes entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship as a first step into the sector. It is especially the case for young people who can benefit from the Junior Achievement Program as a way to tackle social and economic challenges through an entrepreneurial experience.
Furthermore, several civil society organisations and research centers promote social entrepreneurship education and training including:
Some specific support schemes can be provided by the government:
- The upcoming "National Action Plan for an ecosystem development for social enterprises" should provide social enterprises with more incubation, training and funding opportunities.
- The Ministry of Labour and Welfare funded the development of a training program for disabled people interested to work in the social economy or who do want to establish and register a social enterprise.
Some private actors can also provide support to social economy entities :
- Hub Nicosia and Future Worlds Centres offer co-working facilities for social enterprises.
- Cyprus Inno offers divers resources including mentorship, acceleration and incubation programs, networking events and a furnished database on entrepreneurial support services in the country. It is not exclusive but includes some opportunities for social innovation and social economy entities.
- Go Social Cyprus offers resources and training opportunities on social entrepreneurship in Cyprus.
- The Centre for Social Innovation provides resources and training courses. It also develops targeted projects to support entrepreneurs in specific fields.
Public funding towards social economy is developing. European funding is accessible via ESF+ and other structural funds. Details on the funds and upcoming calls are available on the Information Portal for Funding Programmes.
The upcoming law plans for specific funding for social enterprises. The government plans to each year allocate 300 000 euros (15 000 euros max per beneficiary) to help social enterprises cover their initial costs, and adapt the national framework.
Although there are no specific actors offering targeted funding opportunities for social economy entities, they can still resort to crowdfunding.
Learn more about the social economy in Cyprus
For information on EU Programmes, check the competent national authorities that manage them:
- The General Directorate of Development, Ministry of Finance
- The Foundation of the Management of European Lifelong Learning Programmes.
- Social Enterprises and their ecosystems in Europe, Country Reports, Cyprus, 2019. Link: Document database - Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion - European Commission (europa.eu)