We are excited to introduce the Blue Social Growth program for entrepreneurs living in Europe’s small islands!

The main objective of Blue Social Growth is to train active and prospective social entrepreneurs in acquiring the required entrepreneurial and co-creation 21st century skills for the development of innovative, technologically advanced, financially sound, globally competitive and actively networked entrepreneurship ventures that address the pressing issues of small islands.

Through education and training social entrepreneurs could find the ways to address unmet social needs of the small islands and coastal populations in an innovative and financially sustainable way.

Social enterprises could be found to offer innovation in many different sectors of the Blue Growth economy including coastal and maritime tourism, ecotourism, fishery, agriculture in coastal areas, renewable energy, transportation, maritime activities, culture and creative economy, immigration and refugee crisis. To trigger the growth of social enterprises as value creators in the Blue Growth Economy sector we need to increase cooperation, social partnerships and information exchange among all stakeholders of the ecosystem.

  • Did you know that 71% of the planet’s surface is covered by water?
  • Did you know that 71% of the Earth surface is Water?
  • Did you know that 90% of world trade is carried out through the sea;
  • Did you know that 90% of Global Trade is conducted by Sea

Blue Social Growth is an ecosystem where like-minded people meet and interact to address the pressing issues of small islands

Islands face considerable challenges…They may lack human capital and possess limited public resources in health, education, research and innovation… EU’s southern islands have seen a large influx of migrants, whilst lacking the resources needed for their accommodation or integration…various studies suggest that islands can become ‘lands of opportunities’ by investing in their relative strengths (European Parliament Think Tank, Jan 2016).

Article174 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union- TFEU recognises the special nature of island territories… Several insular regions and municipalities call for the development of an ‘insular dimension’ in EU policies.

The ‘blue’ economy represents roughly 5.4 million jobs” (EC, Maritime Affaires, Blue Growth, 2016).

Aquaculture development aims at supporting and facilitating a sustainable economy. Support aquaculture productions and communities with innovative solutions and technologies to ensure a sustainable offshore, coastal and inland development and growth. (Horizon 2020 WP Marine & Maritime, 2016-2017).

Coastal areas are important for growth and jobs, in particular for young people (EC, 2014).

“European Commission recognises the potentials for development of the Coastal areas through both the Strategy for Blue Growth and the initiative for Maritime tourism… A powerful and intelligent maritime tourism will act as a catalyst for the economic recovery in Greece and throughout the European continent.” (EC Press Release)

The program is offered for free funded by Eramu+ 2018-1-IT02-KA204048365

Register now here


Blue Growth Competition was first launched in Greece in 2014 with a huge success hosted by Aephoria.net and Municipality of Pireaus.

In 2015 The Nest supported Blue Growth in co-organising the first workshops on merging Social Entrepreneurship with Blue Growth Economy during European Maritime Day Yearly Conference of the European Commission that took place in Greece.

Hellenic Small Islands Network and The Nest joined forces in envisioning a project for the growth of social enterprises in Europe’s small islands; the necessity of the project rose in light of the unprecedented influx of third country nationals in small islands.

The Municipality of Sardinia, the Scottish Small Islands Federations, Mine Vaganti NGO and EOLAS were driven to the project sharing the same visions in supporting their countries small island and coastal regions populations.

The team succeeded in advocating the project aims to the European Commission and gaining support from the Erasmus Plus Program. That is how the Blue Social Growth project was created initially in Greece, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. Very soon the project attracted the support of the global community.

The program is offered for free

WHO IS Blue Social Growth?

Do you want to make a change to the lives of the people who live in small islands?

You are our perfect candidate!

Blue Social Growth training program is targeted to support on a global level those individuals that have the strength, the vision and the innovative perspective to attempt to resolve the pressing issues that small islands inhabitants face irrespective of their ethnicity -that is locals or third country nationals, refugees or second generation migrants-; of their legal type- that is charity or business-; of their resource strategy -that is for or not for profit-; of their sectorial home- that is public, private or civil society-; or of their unit level- that is being an individual, organisational or network activity.   

The ideal candidates are entrepreneurs who are either starting up or already running a live venture in small islands who can benefit from the customised support offered from the training program. Priority will be given to the ventures that have some level of social or environmental purpose in their vision.

Special priority will be given to the ventures that are open to collaborate or include third country nationals. The program aims in keeping a equitable ratio among male and female entrepreneurs, as well as to include third country nationals startuppers.

Blue Social Growth synthesizes a truly open, multilevel and multisectoral Community of those that are the actual ‘doers’ in Europe’s small islands

Programme eligibility: To apply to the programme you need to be running (or starting up) an enterprise/venture/project. You also need to be ready to co-create and collaborate with peers from around the globe.

The program is offered for free ere 

Register now here

Blue Social Growth Process and Methods

All registered participants have free access to the following:

    • Active project. Participants are actively working on their live venture during the whole duration of the program with the aim to build their venture’s Project Plan. 
    • The Blue Social Growth E-LEARNING PLATFORM, providing innovative modules supporting entrepreneurs in small islands to startup and grow their ventures
    • A Handbook with self-administered exercises for ENTREPRENEURIAL and CO-CREATION SKILLS in small islands
    • A COLLECTION OF BEST-PRACTICE CASES on collaborative ventures mainly in small islands from four European countries.
    • A cycle of six-monthly Mentoring Sessions with Action Learning sets on a country level. 
    • Two Face-2-Face Design Thinking Workshops will take place in every partner country, incl. Greece, Italy, Spain and the UK
    • Participation in International teams with peers living in small islands from across borders. Teams will support each other in building their individual venture Business Project Plan to be submitted in the end of the program
  • Chance to win a free travel and accommodation in Greece to pitch their project during Raise Your Voice Festival 23-26 April 2019 and be awarded the Blue Social Growth Global Disruptor Award

By introducing case-based learning, skills training, action learning and e-learning methodologies as well as off-line workshops and mentoring, Blue Social Growth stimulates the practices, skills and networks needed for social entrepreneurs to create innovative, financially sustainable and disruptive ventures that can offer solutions to small island inhabitants.

This learning program demonstrates training methods and activities that reflect the ways that social entrepreneurs prefer to learn and aim to help them acquire knowledge on co-creation and the strategies needed in these areas. It is a hybrid supporting the use of e-materials, as the online method provides the possibility to reach a larger number of trainees living in isolated places and also demonstrates in the best way, what it is to be taught.

The program is offered for free e-learning 

Register now here



Blue Social Growth is an active partnership among:

Municipality of Olbia, Sardinia Island, Italy

Olbia is an Italian town, located in Gallura, in the north of Sardinia. Rich well-known tourist destination, it is equipped with facilities that make it a very important tourist attraction for the whole island. Olbia is the economic engine of the province and one of the most important cities in the region.

Compared to other cities of Gallura, Olbia is renowned by the particular entrepreneurial spirit , with a tourist industry closely linked to the construction sector . Moreover, Olbia is the headquarter of the major commercial services throughout the country.

During the past five years, an overall increase of tourism flow, especially foreigners, who visited the city, confirmed its importance as a center of attraction in Gallura .

One of the main goal of the Municipality of Olbia is to facilitate the social enterprise spirit growth by increasing the feeling of solidarity, social cohesion and active citizenship through the promotion and organization of cultural and sports events; the creation and implementation of cultural initiatives for young people and for the community; the creation of conditions for the protection, production and use of cultural heritage.

The City promotes active citizenship and a sense of belonging to the EU, working with an international network of partners.

The area of Olbia is equipped with facilities that make it a very important tourist attraction for the whole island. The City of Olbia works to accompany business growth to and increase a sense of solidarity, social cohesion and citizenship through cultural and sports events; cultural initiatives for young people and for the community; preservation, production of tradition and cultural heritage. These objectives are pursued by the city through participation in international programs, in collaboration with a network of European partners.

Particular importance in this context is assigned to initiatives to promote the professional growth, internationalization and mobility of young people through participation in European programmes.

The Council’s commitment in this field was particularly intensified in recent past years with the establishment of a solid strategic partnership with Mine Vaganti NGO who works in the promotion of active citizenship and European mobility, with particular attention to project management, consulting and training. In the framework of a common strategic vision for growth in the field of human capital , the city of Olbia jointly with MVNGO have launched  two Leonardo da Vinci projects “Learn & Back” and “Learn & Back 2” implemented respectively in 2013 and 2014, in the context of experiences in vocational training we were offered to character 200 young Sardinians.

Recently, The Municipality of Olbia applied for an Erasmus Plus KA1 VET “Learn and Back 2.0” bringing together a local consortium consisting of the City of Olbia and 3 high schools institutions with the common objective of creating a development path that can branch out and extend the impact of previous initiatives by the inclusion of young people in initial training (attending secondary education institutions) in the vocational attitude in the tourism field.

The Nest Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, Athens, Greece link www.soffa.gr 

The Nest Integration is the Hellenic Center on Social Entrepreneurship & Social Innovation active in Athens and Alexandroupoli since 2013. The legal entity is a nonprofit Work Integration of Special Needs People Social Cooperative founded in 27/3/2014 under Greek Law No 4019/2011 & No 4430/2916.  Shareholder mix: 60% registered asylum-seeking refugees and 30% unemployed Greek designers and professionals from the fashion industry.

Our Vision is to create innovative business models that promote environmental regeneration and social inclusion of women victims of human trafficking and youth in vulnerability through transformational engagement, empowerment and mobilization of their talents.


Our activities include:

  • Social Fashion Factory-SOFFA, is a creative tailoring production studio, a cooperative of fashion designers and professionals aiming to create sustainable fashion garments with great social and environmental impact! SOFFA provides women victims of human trafficking and in risk of being trafficked with tailoring training and work integration programs. It provides soft skills development for work inclusion and work integration empowerment, enhancing social inclusion and gender equality.At the same time, SOFFA targets the regeneration of the environment through the use of zero waste processes, circular fashion principles and the use of recycled, natural, vegan and plant-based textiles. Here is our SOFFA Presentation Book with our impact and some of our past projects here and more soffa.gr
  • Fashion Revolution Greece, is the biggest global movement fighting for a safer, cleaner, fairer and more transparent fashion industry responding to the unprecedented pollution caused by the industry and violations in human rights of workers. FR is one of the 12 best practice case studies identified in the European Commission’s Mapping sustainable fashion opportunities for SMEs (2019) report. In 2019 289 million people from all over the world participated in Fashion Revolution Week. fashionrevolution.org/country/greece
  • Wear Your Origins Award is a Fashion Design program for women empowerment of young women designers and women victims of trafficking and in risk of exclusion. These women are offered training and mentoring into designing their own ecological capsule collections inspired by their country of origin heritage elements. The collections are then crafted in SOFFA studio by our women that attend our tailoring programs wearyourorigins.com
  • Raise Your Voice festival co-organized by 53 NGOs in the fight Against Human Trafficking & Climate Change. In 2020 we organized the first digital festival against human rights violations. In 2018 52 NGOs were gathered under the same umbrella for the first time in Greece to organize RYV; 300 artist and professionals locals refuges, migrants and greeks; 4000 attendees of which half were foreign residents; 175K reach in FB, target audience were 68% woman and the 25% was between 25-34 years old. raiseyourvoice.gr
  • ZITA Hellas sneaker factory, the rebirth of the iconic label in a fully sustainable and ethical way, athletic vintage sports footwear production
  • Social Growth TV Show, 12 Episodes on startups social enterprises for ERT1 National Greek Broadcaster
  • Project Leader of Anti-Slavery Athens Pilot. The Pilot Project for the Prevention of Trafficking in Human Beings through public procurement policies and measures in the City of Athens through a public-private partnership at international, national and regional level coordinated by Athens University of Economics and Business, Nottingham University Right’s Lab n’ Fashion Revolution Greece under the support of the OSCE- Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. 
  • SOFE training program, training on how to be a social and sustainable fashion entrepreneur, 196 participants from 4 continents. Funded by Erasmus Plus
  • SOG-TIM training program, entrepreneurship training to NGOs on human trafficking and refugee crisis. Funded by EU Erasmus+
  • Migrants in Fashion. Funded by EU Erasmus+


Our offices are within the incubator of Athens University of Economics and Business, ACEin where students and alumni startuppers entrepreneurs are incubated. Our workshops in refugee center in downtown Athens.

President and CEO Dr Fiori A Zafeiropoulou, Social entrepreneur, NGO Founder, Academic Lecturer & Fellow Researcher, Novel Writer, Policy Advisor & World Speaker in eradicating human trafficking in fashion supply chains and empowering women victims of slavery & women in risk of exploitation. Addressing climate change & re-generation of the environment through changing paradigms in fashion production, sourcing, and consumption. award winning PHD on Social Franchising & Social Entrepreneurship, Brunel Business School (AUEB) and is Research Fellow on Combatting Human Rights Violations in Fashion Industry Supply Chains at Athens University of Economics. PM of the Observatory for Ethical & Circular Fashion and the Sustainable Fashion Summer School at Management Science Lab in AUEB. Country Coordinator of the global movement Fashion Revolution.org in Greece, the Coordinator of Raise Your Voice Festival co-organised by 56 State Bodies & NGOs to end human trafficking and act on climate crisis. Founder of Social Fashion Factory – SOFFA.gr. Writer of the Novel “The Veils of Innocence” Kaktos Publishing. Fiori is a world speaker & her story has inspired various documentaries including One Over Many by Daphne Bengoa. Executive Producer of TV Show SocialGrowth.ert.gr. Twitter@fiorizita FB LinkedIn Instagram @fiori_lpp_zita, email:f. zafeiropoulou @ thenest. org.gr. 

Hellenic Small Islands Network, Hydra Island, Greece

The Hellenic Small Islands Network is an organized network with members from all island Municipalities with a population under 5,000 inhabitants. Its actions usually promote all subjects concerning the development and growth of the human resources as well as of the natural and structured environment. It has an excellent experience in handling environmental matters; this experience consists of HSIN actions as much as of all members’ actions; that means 40 islands in total.

The environment and all its aspects are most important for the sustainability of the small islands. Apart from the participation and the implementation of the project, small islands learn more effectively and get familiar with the know-how and the practical experience obtained through the project. The exchange of information and the diffusion of knowledge is going to enlighten some valuable fields of the small islands policy, also concerning the development of the project H2020.

The Hellenic small islands network has the experience and knowledge to participating considerably of development of small islands, testing, transfer of knowledge, networking of training, enlargement, of the stakeholders, training courses and workshops, public administration, assistant to technical discussions, to developed in each small islands pilot etc.

The HSIN has been involved in several European Projects, either as an autonomous sector or as a member of project management concerning small islands.

Eleftherios Kechagioglou President of the Hellenic Small Islands Network

Born and raised in Hydra Island. He graduated as a captain of merchant navy and then as Surveyor. He has 15 years working experience as director in municipal development company, where he implemented many Νational and European programmes. He has traveled across many countries and the last 7 years is the founder of Hellenic Small Islands Network. Mr Kechagioglou is active in the fields  of development of human and natural capital of small islands. Furthermore, he participates in committees concerning small islands, in national and European level. He is board member of Island Policy Council, Coastal Transportation Council, Social Control Council of Greek Television and of ESPA – PARTNERSHIP agreement for Ionian and Aegean islands 2006-2013 and ESPA – PARTNERSHIP agreement 2014-2020 for Ionian Islands.

Scottish Small Islands Federation, Scotland, UK

The S.I.F. is a membership organization for communities on all Scottish Islands. Its mission is to give them a voice at all decision making levels and promote the sustainability of  Scottish island communities through research, projects and networking opportunities.

The Scottish Islands Federation represents 15 islands in Scotland across 3 regional areas (North Ayrshire, Argyll and Bute and  Highland). Its aims are to promote, publicise and advance the interests of Scotland’s islands. Its main objective is to become a more effective voice and agent for change for island communities.  

The Scottish Islands Federation has worked with islands members to train islanders in carrying out energy audits as part of their successful Intelligent Energy Europe funded SMILEGOV programme. It has looked at multilevel multilateral governance, through a cluster of island members and focus groups. 

Its areas of specific expertise is community renewable energy, and island economic and social development.

The Scottish Islands Federation has worked with islands members to train islanders in carrying out energy audits as part of their successful Intelligent Energy Europe funded SMILEGOV programme. It has looked at multilevel multilateral governance through a cluster of island members and focus groups. 

Its areas of specific expertise is community renewable energy, and island economic and social development.

Camille Dressler: SIF chair, is a mentor and tutor in social enterprise. She has taught leadership for social enterprise and getting into a social enterprise business for the Social Enterprise Academy and runs a social enterprise herself as part of a small cooperative.

Thomas Fisher: he is a member of SIF and a tutor for the Social Enterprise Academy in Scotland, and has worked with social enterprises tackling poverty and exclusion for over 25 years, in India, in the United Kingdom (as a Director for Enterprising Communities at the New Economics Foundation), and for the last decade in the remote Scottish islands in the Outer Hebrides.  He has supported community economic development locally and nationally; designed and delivered training and learning programmes; mentored and coached entrepreneurs and managers, young people and excluded individuals; engaged in extensive policy work, from the local to the international level; and has conducted and published in-depth research. Through this work he has significant understanding and experience in cross-cultural work.

EOLAS, Badajoz, Spain

EOLAS S.L. provides services and support to all enterprises, organisations and entities with demands in the field of the design and management of projects. The company offers services related to the definition of strategies to obtain funding and grants (international, European, national and regional) and accompanies the whole process, from the conceptual and design phase up to the management and closing of the project.

EOLAS provides advice, consulting and support to optimize all processes related to the design, preparation and management of projects, facilitating the participation of its clients in the different international, European, national and regional funding programmes. The service offer relates to:

– Design and implementation of strategic plans for international, European, national and regional funding;

– Identification of needs and opportunities, as well as idea generation;

– Design, preparation, presentation and management of projects;

– Advice on international, European, national and regional financing schemes and programmes;

– Establishing networks and collaboration for the participation in international, European, national and regional projects, including partner search;

– Project management training and coaching

– Innovation and exploitation management

– Business strategy development and internationalisation

– Knowledge generation, sharing and transfer, including training. 

– Educational innovation and profiles

– Creativity and innovation in business and education

EOLAS S.L. is founded by a team of professionals with more than 20 years of experience in idea generation, identification of financing schemes, proposal preparation, partner search and management of international, European, national and regional projects. It combines the knowledge and experience of in the field of economics, innovation and enterprise organization with engineering, allowing the company to integrate both the technical coordination as well as the economic aspects of project management. The team members have been involved in different projects during this time, acting as project manager in close to 120 projects from a large variety of different funding programmes.

Manon van Leeuwen: She is currently EU bidding expert at Eolas S.L., and has been Director of the European Projects Office of the Regional Government of Extremadura, Director of the Area Information Society at Fundecyt and Director of the Department for European Programmes of the Foundation University-Enterprise of Valladolid. With more than 20 years of experience as project manager in European, national and regional project, in different fields and topics, she is an expert in European Project management, managing more than 120 projects during this period, coverning amongst other Life Long Learning and progress programmes. She is currently an external expert in the field of exploitation issues for the EC and supports projects from the FP7-NMP programme in defining their exploitation strategies. She is and has been evaluator and reviewer in various occasions of Horizon2020, 5th, 6th and 7th EU Framework Programmes (ICT, NMP, INCO), Erasmus Entrepreneurship and the CIP programme. She has a university degree in Economics by the University of Tilburg (NL), a Master in European Communities by ICADE (ES) and is in process of a Ph.D on business innovation at the University of Valladolid (ES).

Funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union


For further information please
contact us at: contact@socialgrowthhub.com