On 9th – 10th of December 2015, the conference on “Enabling the Flourishing and Evolution of Social Entrepreneurship for Innovative and Inclusive Societies” with partners and stakeholders, took place at European University of Tirana. Mary Ward Loreto was represented by Irena Kraja and Artemisa Aliaj, from the Women’s project, and Sara Çapaliku from the Youth project.

This report contains:

  • Aim of the conference
  • Presentation of successful social businesses
  • Presentation of researches on the impact of social enterprises

Aim of the conference:

The aim of this conference was to present the project of diverse partnership between some European country with the presence of some successful social enterprises initiatives from Albania and other countries. According to the schedule, there were: presentations of successful social businesses from Albania and Europe, researches made on the impact of social enterprises, discussions and questions and suggestions.

Successful social businesses:

It is a lot to learn from the successful activities introduced during the conference, mostly from the “YAPS” and “New York Tirana Bagels” which gave a whole picture of the steps to the success. They raised the issue that being a business has its own risks, and that some of them used to function as NGO-s because the market could not provide enough incomes, and to avoid the risk of failure.

–  Gjirokasta Foundation, Babameto House for Heritage of Culture, works as a hostel for tourists and promotes Albanian life style by offering to the tourists a programme of living Albanian culture.

–  Arka Youth Centre in Shkodra, run a bar, and the incomes goes to support the development of youth in Shkodra at sectors like art, culture, promoting talent etc.

–   New York Tirana Bagels, which supports the integration of the survived victims of trafficking, made a very good presentation of the process of building the social business and steps they have taken.

– YAPS (Youth Albania Professional Service), during the presentation advised that the key for the success of social businesses is the collaboration and support from big companies.

–   Association of reciprocal cooperation Pro Permet. Is a voluntary association of individuals agro food manufactures and active subjects in the touristic sector of reception and accommodation as well as subjects that exercise their handcraft activity in the territory of the municipally of Permet. Members of ARC PRO PERMET are mainly engaged in territorial promotion touristic development through the promotion of typical agro food and handcraft products.

–  “Digital Mums” was introduced as a successful social business in UK. Its aim was to consult mums online on how to manage their lives with babies, how to set priorities and find jobs. The interaction would happen mostly online, after having made a symbolic down payment which would be returned after they go through the entire programme. On the focus of this social business was as well the social campaign, widening its social network and creating a community interest company. In the end, it was suggested from the audience to consider as their target as well the migrant moms.

–  “Enhance the UK NGO, which run a social business whose activity was based online, giving advice to disabled people to promote their right of having sexual life, made their presentation.

– Liceuce NGO in Belgrade, Serbia, derived and supported by SMART Kolektiv which were the organizers of the Innovation Social Forum in March 2014, (which was attended by MWL), introduced their activity on publishing “Face to Face Magazine” in Serbia, Maqedonia and Kosovo. It promotes human rights and values, and also work to be done against discrimination.

Presentation of researches on the impact of social enterprises:

EFESEIIS survey was presented with graphs according to the respective country’s data measuring their entrepreneurships’ social activity. In this unfinished study, there were problems with identifying the resources of the data and problems with a harmonized definition of a social entrepreneurship. However, Albania was part of the targeted countries and its data was shown in the graphs, put in comparison with other countries. What was impressing for Albania, was the fact that according to the statistics, it was of the top countries which would practice evaluation. This was commented as a consequence of the Albanians NGOs, Foundations, “social businesses”, businesses’, etc., obligation to report to the sponsors and donors their activity. The main discussion from this study derived to the issue of access to funds (governmental and/or international funds), as well as the differences in maintaining and managing social businesses in Western Europe and in Balkans. It was pointed out that in the first one, the government played key role in funding these social businesses, whereas in the second one, international funds are essential for the existence of them. The commented as well on the challenges that social businesses face nowadays, which were concentrated in: competition with the profit entrepreneurship, lack of governmental funds and bureaucracy. The audience suggested a discussion on the “returning investment”, for which, according to some researchers, the social campaign would be crucial.   Another presentation on Social Entrepreneurship in Glasgow followed the EFESEIIS’ survey. It was of great interest to know about the huge amount of social entrepreneurships located there, which went above 5000. Social businesses there were an attraction for volunteers, which reached the number of 67000, with a youth participation of more than 60%. The presenter emphasized that a factor why there is so many social businesses, is as well the support and facilities they get from the government. The audience addressed a really interesting question, which made me reflect: is the growth in social entrepreneurships an indicator for the growth of social problems, as well?

Suggestions took place after the researches presentations:

  • The researches presented were not concluded yet, and the data shown sometimes were confusing.
  • having an easier way to measure the social impacts of a social business
  • making the communication easy for the general public
  • communicate the data that results from different researches, in order to prevent the duplication of projects
  • build a link between the universities and social entrepreneurship, by for example, involving students in the research, which brings to their employment, as well.

 Prepared by:

Irena Kraja, Artemisa Aliaj, Sara Çapaliku