Cogito social enterprises
Topic of the practice
Growth and strengthening of the Social enterprises
Good Practice Information
Social enterprises "Cogito" operate in different lines of business, but their common denominator is their main social goal and the staff of these enterprises, who are predominantly individuals suffering from schizophrenia.The main objective of those companies is to aid the disabled and socially excluded persons, mainly due to mental illness, by ensuring appropriate therapy, vocational training and jobs. Another objective common to these companies, is to make a profit that would guarantee their continued operation on the market.The originators of the idea of Cogito companies are the Stowarzyszenie na Rzecz Rozwoju Psychiatrii i Opieki Środowiskowej (Association for the Development of Psychiatry and Community Care) and the Stowarzyszenie Rodzin Zdrowie Psychiczne w Krakowie (Mental Health Family Association in Cracow). The project, whose aim was to combat social exclusion of mentally ill persons, helped to originate the idea of a business venture of the U Pana Cogito Boarding House (founded 2003), which employs persons considered disabled on account of their mental illness.
The source of inspiration for the idea was the Six Mary’s Place Guest House in Edinburgh operating since the 1990s, which was visited by representatives of Cracow’s non-government organisations. After the visit, the idea to start a similar project in Cracow was born.The Cracow Municipality granted ca. PLN 0.5 m (ca. EUR 110,000) for the adaptation of premises and the purchase of equipment.EU funding was obtained for the purchase of necessary equipment and starting business operation. In the recent years, Cogito enterprises have received financial support from the EQUAL Programme. Thanks to the Polish and international project partners, it succeeded in involving more institutions in indirectly supporting Cogito initiatives, if only through actitivies contributing to the promotion of social enterprises.The activities of public authorities in support of the initiatives described primarily consist in allocating funds for the operation of enterprises known as Vocational Development and Training Centres (Zakłady Aktywizacji Zawodowej, ZAZ), promotion of initiatives and cooperation for the broadly conceived development of initiatives as is the case e.g. with the Municipal Welfare Centre).
Evidence of success
In total, the social enterprises employ 38 people following psychological crises and 8 fully fit persons. The success of the U Pana Cogito Boarding House is attributed by its organisers to long-term experience and a careful analysis of the system of care for the mentally ill, including its deficiencies. The success was also influenced by the appropriate choice of the line of business of the enterprises and proper adaptation of the premises and their staff. Apart from public support (from the state or from European funds), an important factor was to obtain broad support on the part of various communities and even individuals, which permitted the start of the operation. A number of people (architects, lawyers etc.) provided services free of charge to the Association.
Contact details to obtain further information on the practice
Magdalena Pokora- Michał Kudłacz
Malopolska School of Public Administration