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Myrtillo Social Co-operative Enterprise


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The Myrtillo Social Co-operative Enterprise was founded on 29th January 2013 in accordance with the Law governing Social Co-operative Enterprises (4019/2011). It falls under the special category of Social Co-operative Enterprise for integration, which are considered work integration  enterprises focusing on persons belonging to specific vulnerable social groups, such as: the disabled, ex-drug addicts, HIV positive and imprisoned/released offenders. It is required that at least 40% of its employees belongs to these vulnerable social groups. Its main activity is the running of a Café Shop situated in Athens. The Myrtillo Café opened its doors on 28th October 2013.  The source of inspiration for the Myrtillo Social Co-operative Enterprise was a similar NGO – Third Sector Enterprise in Edinburgh Scotland, “The Engine Shed”:

In parallel, it runs a multi-dimensional training for young people with ‘moderate learning disabilities’ to help them acquire skills of independent living, self-esteem, sociability, new friends and independence from the over-protection of the family or from the mesh of social exclusion, and in addition to acquire a consciousness of their individual rights and of their responsibilities towards society by in turn contributing voluntary work during their free time.




-       The basic aim is to support the disadvantaged, not by offering them protected ‘occupational therapy’, but rather the possibility of a dynamic entrance into the world of real life and of real, productive work.

-       Their training within a social environment such as Myrtillo Café seeks to offer an alternative to ‘special’ educational institutions which tend to treat people indiscriminately with emphasis on their difficulties or disabilities and not on the basis of the particular abilities and dreams of each individual.

-       It opts to encourage the most privileged to work together with the most under-privileged in society. This is something that can bring great gains to both groups since they complement one another and exploit the gifts of both.

-       It also aims to contribute to increased social awareness of how to treat individuals with special needs on a practical and not ideological level in everyday life, in the labour market and in the context of culture. 


Challenges overcome:

Among the main challenges that the Social Cooperative had to overcome was the lack of alternative financial sources, as well as the low awareness among people in the community and local actors with regard to social entrepreneurship initiatives.


Results observed

The Myrtilo Café was accorded the title “The Social Enterprise of the year 2014 in the framework of the Greek Social Business Excellence Awards.

At present the Myrtilo Social Co-operative Enterprise employs 13 salaried staff (waiters, bartenders, food preparers, trainers) of whom 10 comes from socially vulnerable groups. In addition,  24 young people between the ages of 18 and 35 with learning and other difficulties as Trainees learning to prepare food, to work in the service and reception of customers and, above all, to become self-organised. After one or two years training (depending on the abilities of each) these young people will be helped to find a place in the normal labour market since the Myrtillo Social Co-operative Enterprise actively supports the application of the law regarding the working rights of vulnerable social groups.

At the same time there are many volunteer Trainers, Artists and Specialists who co-operate with the Myrtillo Café and who offer various therapeutic sessions, seminars, lessons and also live concerts, book presentations, theatrical performances, exhibitions, etc.

Lessons learned:


All those who participate in the activities of the Myrtillo Social-Cooperative Enterprise receive benefits:

·       The salaried staff (whether from vulnerable groups or not and the formerly unemployed)

·       The young people with learning difficulties who are undergoing training and who, excluded from the labour market, would otherwise remain at home in a cycle of depression and fearful inability to lay claim on life.

·       The Volunteers, both because they have much to learn from their disabled fellows and also because in life you receive what you give.

·       The Artists and Therapists who work with Myrtillo.

·       The local and wider community which experiences and participates in a dynamic way of engaging individual with special needs in work, social life, education, art and cultural events


In general, the Myrtillo Café seeks to introduce a new spirit into leisure time activity marked by dynamism, quality and innovative ideas.

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HSE_BP2 - English

Human Resources
Social Entrepreneurship

Best Practice: 2


Vulnerable social groups, vocational integration, social inclusion, employment promotion

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