On 29 September 2020, the Board of the Alliance for the Social Economy (ASES: http://www.ases-slovensko.sk/o-nas/ ) met Milan Krajniak, the Minister of Labor, Social Affairs, and the Family of the Slovak Republic. The meeting was initiated by ASES Chairman Branislav Ondruš after addressing several letters to the Minister of Labor, Social Affairs and Family related to the discontinuation of the subsidy provided by the Central Office for Labor, Social Affairs and Family for registered social enterprises (RSEs) under the investment aid. Marián Valentovič, Director of the Central Office for Labor, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republi was also present at the meeting. The non-profit organization EPIC was represented at the meeting by Eva Havelkova who is, at the same time, a member of the ASES Board and was accompanied by other ASES Board Members – M. Mikleová, F. Fabo and M. Brillová.
ASES Chairman B. Ondruš has emphasized at the meeting that the RSEs had found themselves in the most serious economic situation since the adoption of Act No. 112/2018 Coll. on social economy and social enterprises. One of the main reasons is that RSEs are currently the only business segment in Slovakia with no access to investment support and many social enterprises are just starting up their business activities and thus, have no business history yet. In this respect, it is impossible to obtain any form of loan or credit from banks. There is no venture capital investment fund for social entrepreneurship in Slovakia either. Finally, the investment aid system does not apply as guaranteed under the Sec. 17 and 18 of Act No. 112/2018 Coll. The only chance is an investment by the owner itself, which is an unrealistic situation as many RSEs are established by smaller municipalities or individuals.
The related interest rates have been running for a long time, and the project to finance the subsidies from European Social Fund (ESF) resources was stopped six months ago, which is a long time. Therefore, the discontinuation of the remaining subsidies from the investment aid system is even more incomprehensible to RSEs.
Minister Krajniak was very responsive and after a constructive discussion, it has been agreed that the support shall be launched as soon as the audit process is completed, following the approval of the National Audit Office (NAO).
The negotiations can be described as successful. Both parties were receptive to the idea of developing the social economy and social (as well as family) businesses in Slovakia. Minister Krajniak has been informed about the current activities of ASES and the preparatory process for accepting ASES as a member of Social Economy Europe (SEE: https://www.socialeconomy.eu.org/about/ ) – a strategic partner of the European institutions, a leader in EU social economy policy and reference point for the social economy at European level. Important point discussed during the meeting was a necessity to amend the law on public procurement. Minister Krajniak has promised to support it. Mrs. Ondruš also has asked Minister to involved ASES in preparation process of a new operational program for Eurofunds for the years 2021 – 2027. Minister Krajniak has confirmed his readiness for communication of all reasonable proposals, because the social business belongs to his important priorities.