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Bulgarian contribution to a stronger social enterprise ecosystem in Europe

10 April 2023

Can Bulgarian CSOs impress their colleagues from other European countries with something we do so interesting that we can be an example? We can and we have proved it! At an international conference in Athens on "Building a Stronger Ecosystem for Social Enterprises in Europe" (3-4 April 2023) we participated together with 12 Bulgarian social enterprises run by CSOs, presenting the practices of 2 of them - all of them from the DarPazar community.

We confirmed the understanding, for example, that Nature in a Box of the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation is a really interesting and successful product. So impressive that it sparked interest for future partnerships for the development of abandoned areas. The experience of Maria's World Foundation in the social sphere and the interaction between social enterprise and social services is a strongly developing model that can be shared.

We also talked about Strack - our new shared social space in Sofia, which impressed everyone with its concept, design and how we support Bulgarian social enterprises through community engagement events. Dedicated to creating an environment for mutual learning, meeting like-minded people and ensuring the right to decent work, we embarked on an inspiring narrative about the 35 social enterprises that live in Strack and with whom we build community together. Strack's vision was inspired by the model for co-developing social enterprises that was developed in the first phase of the initiative. Some of the guests at the event were also representatives of social enterprises that participated in an international exchange programme. In the 22 exchanges coordinated by BCNL, a total of 47 social entrepreneurs from the four countries shared their experience in business and people management in their teams. The presenters reinforced the usefulness of the exchange programmes and wished they would continue in the future - for the sake of building a better ecosystem for social enterprises.

Social entrepreneurship is very inspiring, but it also has its difficulties. Generating an idea? No, social entrepreneurs are full of ideas. Starting up? Sometimes, but the motivation to solve a social problem helps. The growth? Yes, social enterprises are tasked with finding a sustainable business model and funding their operations. That's why during the conference we also put on the table for discussion the topic of new forms of financing for social enterprises and the possibilities of financial instruments to support the growth of entrepreneurial initiative. Together with social entrepreneurs from 4 European countries (Bulgaria, Italy, Poland and Greece) we discussed what financial instruments are available and used to grow their activities, what are the barriers and how funding has helped them. An increasing share of funding to support the social economy is in the form of financial instruments (loans, microcredit, guarantees, etc.) and not just grant schemes as before.

The conference was dedicated to the exchange of social enterprise teams from Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Poland, with over 60 participants. 

 

Here is the set of policy recommendations elaborated by the Bulgarian working group during the conference sessions

Here you can read more about the innovative model to co-create hubs for social enterprises (SE H.

Here you can also read some of the stories from the international shadowing program for SEs from Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Poland.

 

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The event is organized in the framework of the „SEHUBS Co-creating Hubs for Social Enterprises“ project (621421-EPP-1-2020-1-IT-EPPKA3-IPI-SOC-IN). This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This material reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information presented therein.

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