50 million dinar support for social entrepreneurship in 2024

For the development of social entrepreneurship, improving the position of vulnerable groups and their employment, the Ministry of Labor has allocated 50 million dinars in the budget for the next year, and the Development Program and Action Plan, which should ensure the full implementation of the Law, will be adopted in the coming months, it was announced today, at the meeting of the Council for Social Entrepreneurship in the Palace of Serbia.

In February 2022, after a decade of preparation, Serbia received the Law on Social Entrepreneurship, which defined the concept of solidarity economy and the conditions for acquiring the status of a social enterprise. At that time, the establishment of the Council for the Development of Social Entrepreneurship is also foreseen, with the aim of this body creating a program for the development of the sector, which will be consistently and continuously implemented.

- People who belong to the hard-to-employ population make up about 35% of the total number of unemployed in the country, which is about 130,000 of our citizens. Social entrepreneurship is the most suitable tool that we have in a formal and legal sense, but we have not put it into operation and our task in the coming period is to seriously deal with the revival of social entrepreneurship through the adoption of a five-year development program. In 2012, we had more than 250,000 beneficiaries of social assistance, and today that number has decreased by some 37% and amounts to 160,700. This was achieved in the first place by employing people. Of those 160,000, at least a third is from the category of working-age population and that is something we should think about - said the president of the Council for Social Entrepreneurship and the Minister of Labour, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs Nikola Selaković.

The program will include measures aimed at supporting employment and improving the operations of social enterprises, as well as other activities in the form of education and promotion. In addition to the existing ones, the program will also provide support to new business entities that have grounds to register as social enterprises. The very visibility of this sector will be improved through cooperation with local self-governments, so that the importance of social entrepreneurship is recognized locally, as well as the opportunities it provides in order to fulfill its social role.

Out of 500 social enterprises estimated to exist in Serbia, only ten are registered in the Agency for Business Registers under that name. In the coming period, NALED, with the support of the Swedish Agency for International Development and Cooperation (Sida) through the project "Public procurement and good governance for greater competitiveness", will work on spreading awareness about the advantages and importance of the social economy.

- With the help of the Swedish government, since 2022, NALED has been working on criteria for public procurement with social elements and provides support to the work of the Council in conducting extensive consultations with the aim of adopting a development program that will enable the full implementation of the Law on Social Entrepreneurship. The project also includes a campaign to popularize the sector because the concept of social entrepreneurship is still relatively new in our country and unknown to the general public. The goal is for social enterprises to understand the criteria, conditions and registration procedures and, most importantly, the benefits of obtaining the status, ie financial support, tax benefits and evaluation in public procurement - said the executive director of NALED, Violeta Jovanović.

The main feature of these companies is that they are founded as a result of private initiative, with the aim of offering sustainable solutions for the development of communities. They are characterized by a social mission, democratic management and an obligation to reinvest or return profits to the community. The Law on Social Entrepreneurship, together with the Program and the Action Plan, forms a package that provides the opportunity to improve the position of vulnerable groups and will help the long-term unemployed, victims of violence, the disabled, the homeless, those returning from serving sentences, and others to find work more easily.

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