With the slogan “Impact Forward”, the Social Innovations Forum gathered impact-makers, social entrepreneurs, start-ups, organizations, companies, representatives from international organizations and governments with the aim to translate their ideas and energy into bigger impact and further growth of social economy. The conference was opened by Neven Marinović, Director of Smart Kolektiv, Katarina Denčič Independent Advisor in Sector for Labor and Employment of Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy and Miodrag Milosavljević, Director of Foundation for Open Society. They emphasized the importance of the social economy for all of us, as well as the importance of such events that promote its development. 

The first panel discussion was dedicated to the latest trends in the field of social economy at the EU level, the European Action Plan and its importance for the development of social enterprises. In this session the panelists were Toby Gazeley, Policy Lead in Euclid Network, Dina Rakin, Director of Coalition for the Development of Solidarity Economy, Antoine Avignon, Program Manager for Environment and Climate Change at the EU Delegation, Miroljub Nikolić, Director of Caritas Šabac, Gianluca Pastorelli, Executive President of Diesis Network, while the moderator was Neven Marinović, Director from Smart Kolektiv.

In order to pave the way ahead and call for action that the time has come for the social economy to become part of the official and visible policies of WB governments and regional bodies, regional civil society organizations launched and signed a common declaration consisting of a set of recommendations around four pillars. Participants were Dina Rakin, Coalition for the Development of Solidarity Economy (SRB), Suzanne Wisse-Huiskes, Euclid Network (NLD), Shkelzen Marku, Yunus Social Business Balkans (ALB), Biljana Stojceska, Youth Alliance Kruševo (MKD), Anita Šimundža, CDP Globus (BIH), Jugoslav Radović, Centre for Youth Education (MNE) and Dajana Berisha, Forum for Civic Initiatives (KOS). 

The next session was dedicated to discussing the status of the Green Agenda in Serbia, its current results and planned activities, and how we can together contribute to a more sustainable, digital and solidary society. Tanja Miščević, Deputy Secretary General of Regional Cooperation Council, Nenad Paunović, Director of the IT and Entrepreneurship Team in the Office of the Prime Minister of Serbia, Nikola Stanojević, Co-Founder of Soma, Mirjana Jovanović, Program Manager in Belgrade Open School participated in this important event that was  moderated by Žarko Šunderić, Director of Center for Social Policy.

Conference participants also had a chance to find out about a new financial instrument  designed by Erste Bank to help social enterprises to scale their business and their impact, after which SMEs and social enterprises were invited to a networking session to exchange business opportunities and best practices with relevant companies. The financial instrument was presented by Johann Heep, Social Banking Development in ERSTE Bank and Vladimir Jovanović, Head of Social Banking Unit in ERSTE Bank Serbia, after which, together with Margareta Music from the Elixir Foundation and Tijana Koprivica from the Delta Foundation, they talked to small, medium and social enterprises, exchanged business opportunities and networked. 

One of highlights of this year’s Forum was the session during which ten teams that went through our Program for Sustainable Ideas pitched their business to a jury which decided to award financial support to the companies “Pčinjski” and Center for Entertainment Science “Molekul”, while “Bifrost Bioplastics” received a special award for innovation from Erste Bank in the form of mentoring support for one year. The conference was closed with a working meeting, where invited support organizations and social enterprises from across Europe discussed issues relevant to social economy and possibilities to deepen collaboration opportunities among them.   

Social Innovations Forum 2022 was organized by Smart Kolektiv with the support of the US Embassy, the Open Society Foundation, the Balkan Trust for Democracy of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway in Belgrade. Friends of the conference are Erste Bank Sparkasse, Elixir Foundation and Coca-Cola HBC Serbia.  The conference is also supported by our partners Euclid Network, Erste Bank Serbia and Atlantic Group, as well as by the “SDG for All” platform supported by the Governments of Switzerland and Germany, and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH within the Public Finance Reform – Agenda 2030 project.