EU funds totalling £3m will support a new project aiming to create 200 businesses over the next three years.
Led by the Wales Co-operative Centre, the Social Business Wales New Start initiative seeks to help establish the next generation of successful social businesses in Wales.
The announcement was made by Welsh deputy minister for economy and transport, Lee Waters, who was speaking at a Co-operative Leaders Lunch at the Clink restaurant in Cardiff, a social enterprise.
“Co-operatives and mutuals add real value to the Welsh economy and labour market,” he said, “by creating jobs, improving educational attainment, providing social care in people’s houses and reducing inequality, particularly in our most deprived communities.
“We see growing the co-operative sector as part of our broader ambition to tackle the ‘missing middle’ in Wales – and increasing the number of grounded indigenous firms in our communities – helping the Welsh government achieve its goal of prosperity for all.”
Glenn Bowen, enterprise programme director at Wales Co-operative Centre, added: “The social business sector is an important and growing part of the Welsh economy.
“Social Business Wales New Start will help people to come together to set up new social businesses across west Wales and the valleys, providing important services and creating much needed jobs.
“Wales Co-operative Centre will deliver the new start service alongside its existing Social Business Wales growth programme and will be delivered as part of the Business Wales family of support.”
Social Business Wales is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Welsh government. According to the Welsh government, EU-funded projects in Wales have created more than 48,000 jobs and 13,000 new businesses, while helping 86,000 people back into work.