EPIC Non-profit has successfully completed the international project CERUSI, part of the INTERREG CENTRAL EUROPE grant, aimed at supporting social innovation, social entrepreneurship and the rural circular economy in the Central European region. The project was implemented from January 2020 to January 2022 in seven countries – Austria (lead partner), Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Italy and Slovakia. The main goal of the CERUSI project was to support improvement of the social economy and help social entrepreneurs to start social entrepreneurship.

What did we do?

  • Academy for Social innovation in Rural areas

Academy for Social Innovation in Rural Areas (RSI_Academy) is a 5-module online education for those interested in social entrepreneurship. In individual models, social entrepreneurs can learn and focus on several topics: strengthening the countryside, community needs, creating a business plan, the impact of social entrepreneurship or its sustainability. These engaging lecture videos, video interviews with experts, syllabi, lectures and downloadable teaching material are available in Slovak, or with Slovak subtitles. Part of the online Academy is the final quiz with the possibility of obtaining a certificate.

  • Skyrocket platform

As an online space for social entrepreneurs and those interested in this area, in Skyrocket platform they can share mutual contacts, intentions, project proposals and new incentives for cooperation, gaining potential partners and sponsors for social entrepreneurship. (https://skyrocketplatform.eu/sk)

  • Advice and consultation for social entrepreneurs

We monitored the situation and problems of the social economy in Slovakia directly in the field and subsequently helped to solve specific problems of social entrepreneurs.

At information meetings with social entrepreneurs from all over Slovakia, entrepreneurs presented the ideas and problems of social entrepreneurship. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, these meetings took place online. During February – March 2021, we organized 17 online individual meetings with social entrepreneurs and 2 group online meetings. In July 2021, we managed to make a trip to the region – at the event “Cechové hody kremnické “ in Kremnica town, where we discussed with dozens of visitors who arrived at our EPIC CERUSI stand. The discussions were full of challenges, questions and suggestions for solutions. A small reward for the participants were promo materials: pens, leaflets and notebooks with the Interreg Central Europe CERUSI logo, which they received from us.

Based on the information obtained, we subsequently organized 3 workshops, where we, in cooperation with experienced experts in the social economy, provided direct advice and assistance to specific problems of entrepreneurs. We were in intensive contact with social entrepreneurs as well as monitoring their progress in solving problems.

  • Project outputs and future steps

All the information obtained during the social innovation lab caravans were the basis for the development of the Action Plan for Slovakia. This document contains a proposal for steps to address the existing problems of the social economy, using the tools and methods developed in CERUSI projects:

  • Support for communication of social economy actors at various levels,
  • Comprehensive support of social entrepreneurship in the process of social enterprise registration,
  • Creation of a support mechanism as an alternative to state investment aid.

At the same time, we have prepared an analytical document “Summary of the problems of the social economy in Slovakia”, which also contains possible solutions. The document was sent to the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic as the main guarantor of the development of the social economy in Slovakia.

To ensure the continuity of the Interreg Central Europe CERUSI project and its tools, together with the project partners, we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, according to which the process of supporting the development of social innovation / social innovation should continue in the future.

We believe that the CERUSI project has also helped to develop social entrepreneurship and thus reduce unemployment in rural regions and improve the lives and living standards of their inhabitants.

Team EPIC n.o.