The BuySocial Europe movement, dedicated to promoting social procurement in 17 European countries and implemented in Serbia by Smart Kolektiv, was showcased at this year’s CSR & ESG Forum. As part of one of the SDG Multistakeholder roundtable discussions, representatives from Smart Kolektiv and pioneers of social procurement in Serbia engaged in discussions with interested businesses about the key activities of the movement, the needs of companies, and the challenges they face in finding suitable partners among social enterprises. The participants collectively formulated recommendations for the development of social procurement.

Among the key conclusions, the importance of an open dialogue with companies about their needs and criteria for collaborating with social enterprises was emphasized. Additionally, a necessity for building an up-to-date database of social enterprises capable of collaborating with the business sector was highlighted. Furthermore, a recommendation was made to intensify the promotion of public procurement and communicate more clearly the benefits they bring to businesses and society. This creates a positive framework for the development of social procurement and the enhancement of socially responsible practices in the business sector.

Smart Kolektiv, an organization that is for more than 15 years committed to the development of social entrepreneurship and connecting social enterprises with mainstream enterprises, particularly with members of Business Leaders Forum, together with 22 partners is part of the Buy Social Europe B2B consortium. The consortium is led by Euclid Network – the European Social Enterprise Network, who has been convening the European Community of Practice on Social Procurement the past years, together with the Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) at the global level. Both organizations, as networks of networks, convene a community and network of over 100 organizations in over 60 countries at the local, national, European and global stage, advocating for change. SEWF is the longest-running convener on the topic of social procurement in the world. In addition, it is the patron of the People and Planet First verification. The new verification brand logo was unveiled on October 12th. This verification supports the identification of social enterprises for social and sustainable procurement. 

Among the key partners are also Social Enterprise UK – the inventor of the Buy Social brand and owner of the Buy Social trademark since 2012. The Buy Social Europe B2B initiative works complementary to the Buy Social Europe Corporate Challenge initiative, led by Social Enterprise UK, in partnership with SEWF and Euclid Network. The latter initiative has, since its launch seven years ago, successfully redirected over €400 million in procurement spend to social enterprises. The initiative was recently transferred to a newly set-up social enterprise entity, Telos. 

Other key international partners include: Yunus Social BusinessSocial Entrepreneurship Netzwerk Deutschland (SEND)Social Enterprise NLReach for Changethe Sustainable Procurement PledgeSAP, and Zurich Insurance, along with 13 more partners acting on the national-country level, including Smart Kolektiv in Serbia: Belgium (Sociale InnovatieFabriek), Bulgaria (BCause Foundation), Croatia (Act Grupa), France (Mouvement Impact France), Greece (Academy of Entrepreneurship (AKEP), Hungary (Coalition of Hungarian Social Enterprises), Ireland (Social Enterprise Republic of Ireland, SERI) Latvia (Social Entrepreneurship Association of Latvia, SEAL), Lithuania (Lithuanian Social Business Association, LISVA), Portugal (Associação Portuguesa para a Inovação Social – Eslider), Slovenia (Fund2740), Switzerland (Social Enterprise Network Switzerland, SENS). Learn more about the partners here

This year’s CSR & ESG Forum conference took place on December 12 and was supported by the “Job Fit: Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities” project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the Youth with Disabilities Forum. Other project partners are the Ana and Vlade Divac Foundation, Caritas of Serbia, Smart Kolektiv and the Center for Independent Living of Persons with Disabilities. The conference is further supported by the “Sustainable Development for All” platform supported by the Governments of Switzerland and Germany, and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH as part of the Public Finance Reform Project – Agenda 2030.  The conference friends are Coca Cola HBC Serbia, Ahold Delhaize Serbia, Elixir Group and Heineken Serbia. The ESG Conference Patron is Erste Bank Novi Sad. The media partners of the conference are Bizlife, Održi meNew Economy, InStore and Daily Green.