15 Jun

Bulgaria putting the basis for social entrepreneurship as a vehicle of social change

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Forthcoming development of a procedure defining social entrepreneurship in Bulgaria and facilitate its funding establishment

The number of entrepreneurs who are focused on the creation of wealth for the society are growing. This is evident from a special report on global social entrepreneurship prepared by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). The results were presented during an afternoon session on the topic of “Global trends in social entrepreneurship” organized by GEM Bulgaria in cooperation with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Sofia.

The report is the largest comparative study of social entrepreneurship on a global level, based on interviews with around 170,000 adults in 58 economies. “What the Dutch Government learned from the study on entrepreneurship is that customers and investors should be more aware of the activity and specificity of socially oriented organizations. They should be aware of the issues being solved, thanks to them, and take into account their work practices in obtaining funding and assessing their impact in the society”, said Jacqueline Snijders, Director of the Dutch consulting company Panteia, who was a special guest of the event.


Definition social entrepreneurship

GEM’s study introduces a definition of the social entrepreneurship phenomenon, in a nutshell, as: activity, organization, or initiative aiming at solving social, community, or environmental issue; and: organizations with social focus that operate in the market by offering its own products and services.

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“According to the interviewed Bulgarian experts, the problems of the local social environment and community are solved more efficient by the private sector than by the state and civil society organizations”, said the Deputy Chairman of GEM Bulgaria Mira Krusteff, who explained the results of the study. Respondents state that in the country there are many private companies that provide people with their basic needs, which in other countries are covered by the state or civic organizations. By this indicator Bulgaria is ahead of countries like the Netherlands, Estonia, Poland, and Romania.

The social entrepreneurship sector shows better gender balance – 45% of the entrepreneurs are women, while this ratio is 33% for commercial entrepreneurs in Eastern Europe, as the data shows. According to the GEM report, in Eastern Europe social entrepreneurs have a relatively higher level of education (44%) compared to the general population (28%).

During the event, social entrepreneurs from RE-ACT expressed their gratitude to the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, H.E. Tom van Oorshot, for its active efforts in growing and developing the entrepreneurial environment in Bulgaria. Following the suggestion of the President of GEM Bulgaria, Iskren Krusteff, H.E. Van Oorshot received as a gift a product from a similar project – a beautiful bicycle Vaga’Bond, produced in the socially engaged workshop of RE-ACT Association in the city of Rakitovo by disadvantaged youth, under institutional or private guardianship.

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“This is a big surprise for me and I think it is an excellent example of social entrepreneurship. Not because it is a bicycle, but because it is an example of the wonderful impact those project have on society”, said the Ambassador.

Social entrepreneurship is a topic of the new team of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, became evident from the statement of the Deputy Minister Denitsa Sacheva. “What is following is the development of a law on social economy, which would define social enterprises, define indicators and legal mechanisms by which they would operate as well as facilitate the access to finance”, said Sacheva.

The event concluded with a presentation of successful cases of establishing sustainable businesses and managing projects focused on social impact. Grajdanite, Social Tea House Varna, Listen up, Multi-Kulti, Bread houses, and RE-ACT explained and showed the results of their activities.

GEM organizes its annual conference on 3 – 4 October 2016, during which it will present its first national report on entrepreneurship in Bulgaria.

The complete report on social entrepreneurship can be found here.