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EU Social Economy Gateway
News article31 May 2024Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion4 min read

Y.ES Project – Say yes to the Social Economy


CASES – António Sérgio Cooperative for the Social Economy is based on an effective partnership between the State and organizations representing the Social Economy sector and assumes the legal form of a public interest cooperative. Its purpose is to promote the strengthening of the Social Economy sector, deepening cooperation between the State and the organizations that are part of it, as well as the pursuit of policies in volunteering.

Recognizing, promoting, dynamizing, strengthening and qualifying the Social Economy sector are the main lines that define its mission. 

It was established in 2010, succeeding INSCOOP – António Sérgio Institute for the Cooperative Sector, Public Institute, in all its competences, and extending its area of activity to the Social Economy.

In addition to the State, the following entities representing the Social Economy are members of CASES

  • Portuguese Association for Local Development – ANIMAR;
  • Portuguese Cooperative Confederation, CCRL – CONFECOOP;
  • National Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives and Agricultural Credit of Portugal, CCRL – CONFAGRI;
  • National Confederation of Solidarity Institutions – CNIS;
  • Union of Portuguese Mercies – UMP;
  • Union of Portuguese Mutual Societies – UMP.

One of the strategic objectives of CASES is to promote the modernization of the Social Economy sector, through the reinforcement of capacity building and training, stimulation of innovation, entrepreneurship and knowledge production, with one of its operational objectives for 2024 being "Promote access to credit, entrepreneurship and social innovation". 

It is in this line that the Y.ES Project – Say yes to the Social Economy fits, aiming to enhance the entrepreneurial capacity of citizens and entities, through the development of collective-associative and cooperative-based projects. 

It is subdivided into two actions: The Y.ES Academy, an initiative that aims to promote the acquisition of knowledge and skills that enhance the development of entrepreneurial and innovative projects within the scope of the Social Economy, which we will address below; and the promotion of the dissemination of the Social Economy sector in higher education institutions, through the presentation of entities and projects in the sector. 

The Academy had its first edition in 2014 (it was then called Academia ES), aimed exclusively at young people and taking place in a face-to-face format, for one week. Each year a different region of the country was selected – Porto in 2014, Almada in 2015 and Évora in 2016. In the course of these three editions, it was found, however, that the adhesion of young people was insufficient, and it was necessary to broaden the target audience of the Academy. The Covid-19 pandemic also brought a new training model, online and more extended in time, which had three editions, between 2020 and 2023. 

Throughout the six editions already held, about 120 people were trained, of which at least half were young people. From the testimonies of the participants, both trainers and trainees, the existence of an environment of solidarity, mutual help and trust, as well as the appropriation of the contents transmitted, has been highlighted. 

Although there are no systematized data regarding the medium/long-term impact of the Academy, we know that it has led to the establishment of cooperatives and associations, the development of projects within entities already constituted, and has also opened doors to the pursuit of careers in this field.

"Thank you very much, CASES, without you we would not have the courage, structure and focus to move forward with our project." Samuel, participant in the 2014 edition of the Academy, and founding member, in 2015, of a cooperative.

"The Academy, in addition to showing us what the Social Economy is and how it works, contributed a lot to be able to create and change our vision of this sector in Portugal and above all to encourage us to act and take a more social position. Maybe this is the area I will choose for my academic progress, and it is certainly a new way of being from now on. I will try to implement and improve my project." Jessica, a participant in the Academy in 2016, and who currently works at CASES.[1] 

In 2024, and with a consolidated experience in the promotion of the Academy by CASES, two Academies are planned, one face-to-face and the other online. The recipients are people who have a project idea or a project in the structuring/implementation phase within the scope of the Social Economy, as well as technicians from Social Economy Entities who wish to create or consolidate a project idea to be developed within the scope of their organizations – it is intended to value not only the creation of new entities, but also to promote the entrepreneurial spirit in existing organizations. 

The face-to-face Academy will have about 20 participants who, over the course of a week, will enjoy the theoretical component – training sessions in the classroom – and practical – collective work on the conception of a project idea in the area of Social Economy, visits to Social Economy entities from the various families and conferences with protagonists (leaders, entrepreneurs, etc.) linked to the sector.

The Academy Y.ES promotes the themes of Social Economy, teaches how to conceive and design (new) initiatives, how to define business models and implementation plans, how to create strong networks of peers, a crucial factor for the continuity and success of new entrepreneurs. As in 2014, its main objective is the empowerment of participants, inspiring them to be agents of change in society and role models for other people. 


[1] Other testimonies from Academy participants - some of whom later benefited from another CASES project, the ES youth scholarships, aimed at the constitution of associations and cooperatives - can be viewed at: 


EU Country
  • Portugal
  • Associations
  • Cooperatives
  • entrepreneurship
  • Governmental actors
  • Learning material
  • National level
  • Partnerships / Social economy clusters
  • Peer-to-Peer learning
  • Project story
  • Regional level
  • Skills
  • Social economy organisation
  • Social Enterprises
  • Social innovation
  • Youth
  • youth entrepreneurship