On 7 November 2017 the Closing Conference of the EU-funded project “Fostering Social Entrepreneurship” took place at Hotel Kontinental in Skopje. The event gathered over 200 participants from public institutions, civil society organizations and social enterprises, financial institutions, international organizations, embassies, private sector and academia.
The conference served to present the results and achievements made by the project. A key note speech was given by the Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Mrs Mila Carovska, who confirmed her Ministry’s commitment to the development and strengthening of social entrepreneurship in the country. Two panel debates also took place, serving to give examples of SE in the region and the benefits that can be generated for vulnerable persons and society through the development of this sector. Participants were also invited to attend one of the five workshops held during the day, covering topics such as development of a law on SE in the country, partnerships for inclusion and employment, youth and SE, support centres for SE, and financing of SE.
The EU-funded project “Fostering Social Entrepreneurship” was implemented by a consortium led by Eptisa Southeast Europe doo in cooperation with the project beneficiary, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. The project duration was 18 months (May 2016 to November 2017). The project aimed to improve the inclusiveness of the labour market by creating new jobs opportunities through stimulation of social economic initiatives.
To achieve this objective the project developed policy measures and strategic proposals for strengthening the eco-system for social entrepreneurship in the country, made recommendations for legal strengthening and development in this area, provided training on social entrepreneurship to public institutions, local stakeholders and civil society organizations, and conducted awareness raising among financial institutions aimed at engaging them in developing financial tools accessible for social enterprises. Moreover, the project carried out educational initiatives and activities to stimulate the involvement of young persons in social entrepreneurship, and 20 young persons participated in an on-the-job mentoring programme on social entrepreneurship.
Additionally, the project also worked directly with 12 existing social enterprises (SEs) that were selected through a public call. The 12 organizations supported were: AHP, Albiz, Arno, Astarta, Food Bank, Forum 16, Kindness, Kulturna Riznica, Misla, Red Cross City of Skopje, Solem, and Sonce. Through the generous support of the European Union, the 12 social enterprises have received training and individual assistance in a number of areas relevant to the development and strengthening of their operations. The tailored programme included 4 training workshops, individual mentoring and support by experienced professionals, who assisted the 12 social enterprises with the development of individual business strategies, business plans, financial plans, marketing plans, and marketing materials. They also received assistance, training and support with fundraising and preparation of project proposals to name a few. By improving the social enterprises expertise in these areas, the project has achieved its purpose to empower existing social enterprises to conduct its activities beyond the lifetime of the project.