Director of Smart Kolektiv, Neven Marinović, participated in the panel discussion on social entrepreneurship organized by SINHRO HUB on Friday, November 4 in Pancevo. The panel was focused on legislative framework, opportunities for social enterprises and examples of good practice.  

The panel featured Marina Kurilj from the association “Na pola puta”, Dejan Krmar from Erste Bank, Aleksandar Bogdanović from the Coalition for Solidarity Economy Development and Neven Marinović from Smart Kolektiv. Panelists discussed the numerous advantages that social entrepreneurship brings, the new law, available financial instruments and opportunities to overcome the challenges that social enterprises most often face. 

Marina Kurilj presented a survey on social entrepreneurship conducted within 10 Pancevo associations that have some kind of economic activity. The survey showed that 9 out of 10 respondents were familiar with the concept of social entrepreneurship, but 6 out of 10 didn’t know that a new law regulating social entrepreneurship is adopted, nor about the advantages that registration of a social enterprise entails. All respondents shown an interest in how to improve financial sustainability through social entrepreneurship, and the vast majority (8 out of 10) shown an interest in examples of good practice and opportunities to connect with potential customers of products that associations make. 

Neven Marinović spoke about the different types of social entrepreneurship existing in Serbia, starting with those that have existed for decades since the time of socialism, those that perform economic activity within their CSO, as well as entrepreneurs registered as for-profit, but have component of social entrepreneurship mostly by employing vulnerable groups. He also clarified the difference between socially responsible companies and social enterprises. 

Aleksandar Bogdanović spoke about the main benefit coming from the new legal framework, which is the registration of social enterprises regardless of the form in which they were initially registered, so there is no new form of enterprise registration needed. He also presented the mechanism of the Council for Social Entrepreneurship, which is an important element in the registration and confirmation of the status of a social enterprise. 

Dejan Kramar presented the possibilities offered by the Erste Foundation’s “Step by Step” program for supporting social enterprises, giving them lending opportunities, mentoring support, as well as advices and recommendations regarding the marketing of social enterprise products. 

After the presentation, the panelists answered numerous questions from interested guests. The event was attended by representatives of CSOs, informal groups interested in social entrepreneurship and social enterprises from Pancevo. 

The event was held within the framework of the project “Strengthening the ecosystem of social entrepreneurship”, which was supported by the project “For an Active Civil Society Together – ACT”. The Swiss Government project “For an Active Civil Society Together – ACT” is implemented by Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation and Civic Initiatives. The opinion expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Government of Switzerland, Helvetas or Civic Initiatives.