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Societal enterprise cooperative “Viesimo”

Joensuu, Finland

Societal enterprise cooperative “Viesimo” was established as a result of a municipal development project which aimed to secure services in rural areas using a user-based approach to service development. The cooperative follows the principles of a “societal enterprise” set out by the Finnish Association of Social Enterprises. The approach responds to the demographic challenges of out-migration and increased demand for aged services. 

Aging brings new service-provision challenges

Societal enterprise cooperative “Viesimo” was developed when the area of Kiihtelysvaara was merged with the City of Joensuu. At this time the municipal economy was weak, many services were relocated from the area, and the share of elderly people in the population had been increasing for some time.

New ways of thinking to meet service needs

Following the municipal merger, the City of Joensuu initiated a development project with the aim of finding new community-based working models to increase the viability of existing services in Kiihtelysvaara and aid the development of new ones. The societal enterprise cooperative was established through this process. The cooperative’s first step will be taking over a local elderly home and developing its services according to, among other things, the principles of green care.

Development partnership as a tool for cooperation

The cooperative Viesimo was in its early stages at the time of writing, but the idea is that it will enter a “development partnership” with the City of Joensuu. This means that the cooperative will be able to produce services for the City of Joensuu without going through the public procurement process. This is permissible under the rules of public procurement if the cooperation with the cooperative is for research and development purposes and the results can be widely utilised.

Negotiations to establish the development partnership are currently underway. The process has been more time-consuming than expected due to the lack of knowledge about societal enterprises and the complicated bureaucracy involved. Part of the reason for these delays is the lack of examples from which to learn from. Hopefully this can be avoided in the future as Viesimo functions as an example for similar partnerships.

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Page last updated September 2016.