Within the international project CERUSI from the INTERREG Central Europe grant scheme, the non-profit organization EPIC has organised an online meeting of social entrepreneurs, that took place on 28th November, 2021, where they had the opportunity to find out current information from the world of social economy and consult problems with experts in this field.
The aim of the international project CERUSI is to support social entrepreneurship and social innovation in rural areas in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, Slovenia, Germany and Italy and respond to the lack of support structures to maintain employment in less developed regions. Within Slovakia, the project is focused on the Banská Bystrica, Prešov, and Košice regions. With this aim, EPIC non-profit in cooperation with experts in the social economy sector, organise social-innovative online workshops, where entrepreneurs seeking to start a social business receive valuable practical advice and information in solving specific problems.
The project is being implemented for almost a year, however an evaluating workshop “Social Economy – Where Did We Go?”, that took place on 28th October, 2021, did not provide quite positive information:
Experts on social economy have informed participants about a meeting of members of the Alliance for the Social Economy in Slovakia (ASES), which took place in September 2021 in Banská Bystrica, with the participation of more than 100 representatives of social enterprises from all over Slovakia.
Although the event was attended by two deputies of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, members of the Social Committee, the invitation was not accepted by the Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and Family, nor by anyone from the Ministry. Social entrepreneurs had the opportunity to share problems with registering a social enterprise at the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic. These include the following problems: problems in obtaining investment aid, limited operation and powers of regional centers for the social economy, unfriendly approach of employment offices or administration and bureaucratic burdens.
Experts on the social economy also expressed dissatisfaction with the preparation of an amendment on the social economy act, which was to take effect on 1st January 2022. At present, it is still in the commenting phase, and new areas that the law on the social economy should contain, are being implemented, such as area of family business. It is not yet clear when the amendment to the act will be ready for the approval process.
Another new problem of social entrepreneurship in Slovakia is return or withdrawal of the status of an already officially registered social enterprise.
There are currently 424 registered social enterprises in the register, but in the last period, 19 enterprises have lost their official status due to withdrawal by the Ministry or by returning the status by the enterprise itself.
The reasons for this situation will be the subject of analysis, but there is a debate that registered social enterprises of the general type have a problem in financing the businesses and also in proving the fulfillment of the social impact, especially in the field of education, etc.
Thanks to information from social entrepreneurs and experts in the social economy sector, the non-profit organization EPIC will continue to assist in monitoring the main problems of social enterprises in Slovakia within the activities of the CERUSI project.
Based on the results of the cooperation, we will send a summary of comments and proposals to the relevant institutions, preferably to the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, and Family of the Slovak Republic.
More information about the CERUSI project: