SBE Launches Eight Social Businesses in Slovakia

Project Partners: Swiss-Slovak Cooperation Program, Epic Slovakia and Social Business Earth

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Marginalized groups in Slovakia, including Roma communities, face many different socio-economic problems starting with unemployment and poor housing conditions often forcing them to live without enough water, gas, electricity and proper sewage systems. Most marginalized communities depend on social welfare, however, many of them are not registered in regional labor offices.

The role of Social Business Earth (SBE) in the Swiss-Slovak Cooperation Program was to support the NGO Epic Slovakia and local municipalities to identify social business opportunities for disadvantaged and marginalized communities in rural areas, particularly in the Central and Eastern region of the country. Members of the SBE team travelled to Slovakia in 2013 and 2014 to work closely with Epic and municipality mayors in the identification process of social business opportunities.

SBE visited different municipalities including Spišský Hrhov, Rožkovce, Hrabušice, Chminianske Jakubovany, Svinia and Sveržov among others. During the trip SBE visited the homes of marginalized and Roma communities, interviewed them and assessed a number of income-generating activities they could initiate to create jobs for themselves and their communities. After careful analysis SBE determined that the sectors with the highest potential to start small sustainable social businesses were the following: building and construction, wood collection and processing for production of heating systems i.e. pellets, collection and processing of waste, gardening, manufacturing concrete to produce bricks and stones for various purposes, travel agency to boost tourism in the region, storage of willow wood for logging. SBE supported Epic in the creation of templates and reports for each social business initiative to include in a catalogue.

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In addition, SBE’s role in the project was to train volunteers and mayors in social business. The training and coaching sessions were held in the city of Žilina in cooperation with our partners. In addition, productive meetings and discussions took place in order to evaluate the best approaches to implement social businesses in the region. The input of Ashoka Fellow and innovative thinker Mr. Michal Smetanka was very useful and productive.

SBE offered a Social Business Lecture to approximately 100 students at the Economic University of Bratislava, Faculty of National Economy, Department of Social Development and Labor. The lecture focused on best practices of social business in Switzerland and Europe as well as developing countries. The lecture topics included:
– Definition and principles of social business
– Differences and similarities between social business, profit maximizing businesses and charities
– Overview on what is CSR, Impact Investing, B-Corporations, Cooperatives etc.
– Current unemployment rates in Slovakia and how they compare with EU average
– Cooperation between SBE, Epic, and local municipalities in the creation of social businesses for marginalized communities
– Examples of existing social businesses
– Measuring social impact
– Funding social businesses

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The envisioned outcomes of the project have been achieved and as a result a total of eight social businesses have been approved by the local councils and launched in Eastern Slovakia to integrate marginalized communities into the workforce and create 50 new jobs.

Thanks to the professionalism and expertise of Epic and the local mayors in achieving the set goals, SBE is proud of the success and the positive results of this project.

 

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