Mapping the ecosystem of social and solidarity economy in Serbia

Social and solidarity economy (SSE) is a field in which social enterprises (SP) operate, achieving different social goals through economic activities. According to relevant research in Europe and Serbia, SSE is a sustainable solution for balancing economic, social and environmental goals (destabilized by negative growth approaches and exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis). In Serbia, SSE is underdeveloped – the public sector and state administration do not recognize it, there are no stable sources of support, nor institutions to promote it. The entire SSE ecosystem has not been identified (not all actors have been identified) – which is further confirmation of the underdevelopment. So far, most work has been done on establishing one type of actors: social enterprises, and the focus of CoSED itself was on establishing a regulatory framework for SP development and promotion of some SSE practices, and advocacy and coordination of SP, intermediary organizations, public institutions and the like. CoSED wants to use this experience to involve a larger number of actors. Mapping actors and determining the characteristics and potential of the entire ecosystem, CoSED will achieve through the following activities:

  1. a) capacity building of existing and development of missing SSE actors and practices;
  2. b) the creation of broader alliances for stronger and more participatory policy advocacy and, in general, a more favorable framework for the development of the SSE.

The main goal of the project: Establishing the entire ecosystem of social and solidarity economy that contributes to sustainable and solidary development of society.

Specific objectives:

By August 2022, research and map existing actors, practices, capacities and resources in the field of SSE in Serbia, and identify the missing ones.

By August 2022, connect SSE actors in Serbia around the field of capacity building and joint advocacy platforms.

During the project, promote the broader concept of the collector, the different collectors of the collector and the areas around which the actors connect and cooperate.

Duration: 01.08.2021. – 31.07.2021.

The implementation of the project “Solidarity Economy for a Fairer Society” is financially supported by the Open Society Foundation, Serbia.

Support to development of social enterprise ecosystem

GIZ - logotip

Scaling up the Impact of Social Enterprises

Through this project Coalition will address the burning issues of defining social enterprises in Serbia and the low level of knowledge and information of citizens about social and solidarity economy. Coalition wants all stakeholders to have comprehensive, accurate, sufficient and timely information about the solidarity economy, and especially to have greater knowledge and understanding of its potential for positive social change, its social impact, aiming to motivate them to engage in sector development.

Goals of the project:

  1. To develop structure and content of the register of social enterprises as supporting tool in the ongoing policy process; 
  2. To build capacities of public institutions, CoSED and social enterprises for greater professionalisation of its work in the area of social entrepreneurship;
  3. To raise awareness of public officials, (social) entrepreneurs and citizens in general on the impact of social and solidarity economy 

Project duration: May 2021 – February 2022

The project is supported by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH through the German-Serbian Initiative for Sustainable Growth and Employment.

Solidarity economy for a fairer society

The social and solidarity economy (SSE) is an ethical, value-based economic development that prioritizes people’s well-being over profit. At the heart of the concept itself are people who play an active role in shaping all dimensions of human life (economic, social, cultural, political, and environmental). SSE exists in all sectors of economy, production, finance, distribution, exchange, consumption, and management. SSE is purposefully transforming the social and economic system that includes the public, private, and third sectors in the direction of achieving the well-being of the community.

Opening a broader dialogue on the development of society (not just growth) on the basis of SSE is important for sustainable and stable development of society. This is especially important in the context of the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The consequences of the tectonic disturbance caused by the crisis are yet to be seen, and measures related to the recovery of society must take into account the needs of all strata of society. Stagnation of the economy, changes in power relations at the global level, the so-called crisis of solidarity in the EU, are the circumstances that will affect how Serbian society will be traced on the road to recovery.

After the establishment of the new government, there will be a reflection on what support measures need to be adopted in order to help the society to get out of the crisis. This is an opportunity to open a dialogue on what measures need to be directed towards SSE organizations, as initiatives that show the greatest resilience to the crisis, due to the principles on which they operate. Opening a dialogue on the contribution that SEE organizations have to the organic and sustainable development of society will create a better condition for the emergence of new initiatives of this type and strengthen existing ones, thus helping the recovery of society in a sustainable, inclusive, and equitable manner. Above all, the presence of these initiatives in public discourse will indicate the political potential of these initiatives for the transformation of politics, the economy and the overall development of society.

The project aims to contribute to greater activism of citizens and democratization of society, precisely, opening of dialogue and advocacy of socially sustainable policies, solidarity and justice through strengthening cooperation between social and solidarity economy organizations, academia institutions, think tanks, unions, NGOs, informal groups, and social movements.

The specific objectives of the project are:

  1. Establishing dialogue and cooperation between different actors on the development of society based on social and solidarity economy (SSE);
  2. Increasing the knowledge base on the social and solidarity economy in Serbia;
  3. Contribution to informing citizens about alternative models of social development and promoting a culture of dialogue and citizen participation in reform processes.

Activities: Preparation of analytical material and policy recommendations on directions of support to the SSE sector in the post-covid period; Have your say! – Online tool for gathering information on examples of good practice during and after the Covid-19 crisis; Preparation and implementation of a promotional campaign on social networks.

Project duration: July 2020 – February 2021

The implementation of the project “Solidarity Economy for a Fairer Society” is financially supported by the Open Society Foundation, Serbia.

Fostering the development of the social and solidarity economy

Given that the social enterprises’ environment in Serbia is unregulated and non-stimulating, the actors that operate in the sector have limited range of action. Aside from the social enterprises, which are characterised by strong motivation, but also by the lack of adequate management skills, the creation of social enterprises is often initiated by CSOs that advocate innovation of policies in this area.initiate. These organizations are not only familiar with relevant policies, but they offer support in the form of finances, education, and skills. Good examples are organisations gathered in the Coalition for Solidarity Economy Development. They are strongly committed to the creation of the sustainable system of support for sector of social enterprise.

Work with social enterprises and decision makers is motivated by the main goal to create adequate policies and instruments that will respond to the needs of social entrepreneurs in terms of sustainability of their business and scaling up. It is only through policy approach to the sector that is possible to contribute to the development of communities, tackle social inclusion and cohesion. Development of policy framework for development of social entrepreneurship demands building a strong network of various stockholders, building up their resources, skills and capacities to take active and significant part in the process. Apart from strengthening the network capacities, it is necessary to raise awareness of wider public on importance of development of social enterprises and supporting them in the local community.

Following the results achieved in 2019, CoSED continues to nurture partnerships, especially at the local level. The first half of 2020 was marked by pre-election and election processes, which made it necessary to strive for continuity in state action towards the social entrepreneurship sector. The intention was to validate the approach proposed in the law and test the proposed support measures for the sector and to provide an expert and independent approach to changes in state institutions due to elections. In addition to the policy-making process, CoSED will continue the intensive promotional campaign on social entrepreneurship to make this area more understandable and closer to the general public

Within the HBS support we will achieve the following goals:
To continue communication with stakeholders and decision makers with the aim to validate the proposal to the sector development.
To inform stakeholders and wider public on benefits of social entrepreneurship for sustainable development of local communities.

Activities: Implementation of consultation mechanisms with various stakeholders public on the future of the development of social entrepreneurship sector; Undertaking various raising awareness activities towards target groups to inform them on the benefits of social entrepreneurship for local socio-economic development.

Project duration: April 2020 – November 2020

CoSED is implementing the project “Fostering the development of social and solidarity economy” in cooperation with the Heinrich Boell Stiftung – Belgrade Representative Office.