Knowledge centre


The Alliance for Inclusive Investment in Social Care and Support (a4i) project was launched in February 2019. Funded by the Erasmus+ programme, the a4i project aims to build up the capacity of social services, private investors and public authorities to collaborate and to use private investment for projects in the field of social care and support.


Social investment of social services: The role of private investment

The 2008 crisis and the coronavirus crisis have and will have a strong impact on the governance of social services in Europe. Although they are a key element in the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) and the European Pillar of Social Rights (2017) to enable full inclusion through homecare and community- based services, European member States have (more often than not) cut their budgets. Yet, it is not just about the numbers, it is also about how and through which mechanisms. New instruments and tools are needed to ensure the presence of quality care and support services, with well-paid staff.

Moreover, the demand for social care and support will increase in the future in particular for the elderly, will mean that complementary private investment instruments can help to better manage -not replace- public investment into the sector. This is particularly the case to help provide capital to build, innovate and implement community-based social infrastructure. The Annual Growth Survey 2018 highlights precisely this point arguing for “greater private sector contribution to human capital development and infrastructure projects (to) complement and leverage public sector support” and “establishing a financial framework conducive to investment and the mobilisation of private capital that allows the combination of financial instruments and grants to help projects get off the ground”.

What are the challenges for Private Investors and Social Services collaboration?

Many social service providers often struggle to get access to private finance for their activities. There are three main reasons for this: misconceptions and poor communication between social service providers and investors, an expertise gap and lack of capacity on both sides, as well as unsuitable tools and instruments. However, the way in which social care & support is delivered differs across the EU (three main patterns) and this also needs to be accounted for when considering capacity to secure and use social investment.

About a4i

To tackle these challenges, the a4i project was created to develop a neutral platform to improve the relevance of teaching content in the professional development of decision makers. In a4i, Social Service Providers (SP), Private Investors (PI) and Higher Education Institutions (HEI) work together to create a new cross-sectoral teaching concept, based on integrated academic and adult training learning methods together with models and case examples of good practices. Therefore, thanks to this project, Social Services Providers and Private Investors can use common knowledge and tools to understand each other, communicate and collaborate more easily.

The partnership is composed of:

Resources on social investment

Outputs from the a4i project: 


Human rights
United Nations: Business and Human Rights: A Progress Report

United Nations: About the Sustainable Development Goals

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 

Inter-American Convention on Protecting the Human Rights of Older Persons  

Joint Declaration: Developing the Support Services of Tomorrow

Social care & Social investment

Federation of Social Employers: New report on the Social Services Workforce in Europe: Current State of Play and Challenges

Caritas: The future of the welfare state

How to Fund Quality Care and Support Services: 7 key elements - EASPD Conference Report 2019

BIS: Structural changes in banking after the crisis

Leverage for good: An introduction to the new frontiers of philanthropy and social investment

OECD: Social Impact Investment 2019: The Impact Imperative for Sustainable Development

EU financial instruments

EASPD: Investing in Social Care & Support - A European Imperative

European Commission: Boosting Investment in Social Infrastructure in Europe - Report of the High-Level Task Force on Investing in Social Infrastructure in Europe

European Investment Bank: EaSI Guarantee Instrument

European Committe of Regions: Factsheet: Financing a city’s or region’s long-term capital investment programme - EIB framework loans

Use cases on social investment

Social Investment & European Investment Fund: August 2020

News & Articles

Why engage private investment? October 2020

a4i Profesionnal Development Programme October 2020

Social infrastructure finance and institutional investors October 2020

 Launch of the Czech Piloting November 2020

 Private Investment, Human Rights & Social Care: Building a common European agenda November 2020

InvestEU 2021-2027 January 2021

Launch of the Spanish Piloting April 2021

What is InvestEU? April 2021

InvestEU Programme: Guidance on social sustainability proofing of investment and financing operations May 2021