“Social enterprise as an opportunity for economic development, cooperation and community progress through the development of social enterprises” was the topic of the final conference of the cross-border project “Social entrepreneurship for the development of the region”, which was held at the European House in Kriva Palanka.
Organizers, partners from the project and the mayor of Kriva Palanka Sashko Mitovski, who welcomed the participants and shared his experience of cross-border cooperation with Serbia, spoke about the cooperation between the municipalities of Kriva Palanka and Leskovac.
The first panel talked about the current state of the solidarity economy, European experiences and upcoming legal frameworks. The panelist was Barbara Sadovska, president of the “Barka” foundation from Poland and team leader of the “Support to Social Enterprises” project. Zorana Milovanovic – Coalition for the Development of Solidarity Economy and Snezhana Milisavljevic – “Putokaz Kragujevac” talked about how businesses in the neighborhood operate. The representative of the government of North Macedonia, Nola Ismajloska Starova, national coordinator for regional cooperation and European integration, also participated in the panel, who presented opportunities for the placement of common markets and economic potential offered by the “Open Balkans” regional cooperation.
“This project is the result of a nine-year collaboration between ARNO and Trag Foundation from Serbia, within the framework of a regional competition for green ideas. The idea to apply for the first call for cross-border cooperation came naturally and we are grateful for the support of European donors. Social entrepreneurship is necessary for our citizens. The region has similar challenges, but also a clear roadmap where it should go – to inclusions, to stable markets, to Europe. Today, this is neither the beginning nor the end, just a part of the story that we need to tell out loud, how it would resonate across borders and inspire more and more social and green businesses. What we planted will sprout – let it be knowledge, help and solidarity,” said Irina Janevska from ARNO.
Those present at the event received a planting card, which is a promotional eco-material of the Macedonian green business project, an eco-pen of the Serbian green business, and a calendar with pictures and messages of 12 Macedonian and Serbian social enterprises that participated in the project.
The project “Social Enterprise for Economic Development and Social Inclusion” is implemented in partnership with the associations ARNO from North Macedonia, Optimist, as well as the Trag Foundation from the Republic of Serbia as a coordinator.
The European Union funds this project with a grant worth € 159,000,00 The Department for Contracting and Financing the European Union Funded Programmes, belonging to the Serbian Ministry of Finance, signed this grant contract under the 2106-2020 IPA II cross-border cooperation programme Serbia – North Macedonia.
Photos: Saša Đorđević and Jelena Đukić Pejić