Held first conference of a cross-border project: the Macedonian and Serbian regions will develop the social economy image

Held first conference of a cross-border project: the Macedonian and Serbian regions will develop the social economy

On September 29, in the Chamber of Commerce in Leskovac-Serbia, was held the first conference on the occasion of the promotion of the cross-border project “Social Enterprises for Economic Development and Social Inclusion”. At the event were presented conclusions from the mapping of social enterprises in the region, was carried out a review of the newly adopted legal framework for solidarity economy in Serbia and the expected law in North Macedonia, and were presented successful examples of social enterprises. The event was attended by representatives of relevant local and national stakeholders, social entrepreneurs from North Macedonia  and from Serbia, civil society organizations operating in the field of social inclusion and social economy.

In the opening address Natalija Simovic (director of the donation program from the Trag Foundation) welcomed the attendees and explained the goals of the project with an appeal to all citizens who have an idea or have already started a small, social or green business to apply to the current call that is open to citizens from the cross-border regions and will last until October 10th. Within the framework of the introductory part, the expert Milosh Antic from Serbia also presented the “Map of the Ecosystem of the Social Economy”.

“It is very interesting what Mr. Antic point out from the research, which was actually the first activity in the project. The research itself shows the cultural pattern in the (non)acceptance of attitudes towards entrepreneurship and making money, especially for the middle and older generations from both countries and the attitude towards (non)planning of each subsequent activity. Citizens from both countries must think about management, financial literacy, a common broader market, solidarity and how to encourage each other,” said Jasmina Said, project coordinator from ARNO.

At the panel entitled “Development and support of social entrepreneurship in Serbia and N. Macedonia” participated Macedonian and Serbian experts: Barbara Sadovska (president of the “Barka” foundation from Poland and team leader of the project “Support of Social Enterprises in North Macedonia”), Dragan Sreckovic (Coalition for the Solidarity Economy Development – Serbia), Irina Janevska (ARNO, N. Macedonia) and Miroljub Nikolic (Caritas Shabac and the Section for Social Entrepreneurship – Serbia). Within the framework of this panel were discussed the legal frameworks, local and European experiences and possible challenges that the two countries would face.

In the second panel “Success stories of social enterprises – change makers in Serbia and N. Macedonia”, Predrag Stoshic from the social enterprise “Radanska ruža” from Lebane-Serbia, Dejan Stojanovic “IN VIVO” from Skopje, Hans-Jerg Hamer from “BioBalkan”- Austria and Gordana Rodic-Kitanovska from “SIEC” from Skopje, had their inspiring speeches. The attendees had the opportunity to hear how “Ajvar” from Lebane reached the European market and beyond, how planting peppers and tomatoes can empower women from the region, how important is the integration of former people deprived of their freedom through work engagement (production of biohumus), how collaborations inspire people and, as necessary, the local self-government and municipalities to get involved in the stories that radiate solidarity, following the example of the Visegrad project that united associations and mayors from Vevcani, Veles, to Nish (Palilula municipality), and all the way to Krobia (Poland), and Revfulop (Hungary).

In the final part of the conference, the attendees had the opportunity to work in groups to map ideas and potentials for development, to get to know each other and to achieve cooperation. The Macedonian delegation consisted of representatives from existing green and social enterprises and associations (Vajs Group, “Kozi, mleko, planina” from Rashtak, Challenger, Slow Food, Center for Climate Change , SIEC, IN VIVO ), media workers, institutions (Agricultural institute- Skopje), professors from secondary municipal school “Pero Nakov” from Kumanovo and young people from the RISE program.

The project “Social Enterprises for Economic Development and Social Inclusion” is implemented in partnership with the organization “ARNO” from North Macedonia, Optimist from the Republic of Serbia and Trag Foundation (coordinator), financed by the  European Union through the Department for Contracting and Financing of EU Funded Programmes within the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Serbia. (IPA 2 program for cross-border cooperation Republic of Serbia – North Macedonia 2016-2020);

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