The first 10 social entrepreneurs in Macedonia have been promoted and awarded with start up grants during the award ceremony which was held on 22.06.2017 in Skopje. The activity was part of the "Sustaining civil society impact through social entrepreneurship and innovations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Turkey" project implemented in Macedonia by the Center for Research and Policy Making (CRPM), funded by the European Union with 90% and cofunded by the City of Skopje. Besides the startup grant, the social entrepreneurs via mentoring program were linked with the corporate sector aiming at long-term support and development of the new social businesses.
The social entrepreneurship presents new economic and social energy, a positive movement that integrates the non-governmental, governmental and corporate sectors. The idea for the development of social entrepreneurship is motivated by several factors: the need for inclusion of all social groups - including vulnerable, the positioning of businesses as carriers of social, not just economic factors, diversification and globalization as unstoppable global trend and development of innovations and technology. The development of social entrepreneurship already notes positive practices in several European countries, and recently, through the Smart Start project and CRPM, Macedonia is involved too.
"It is necessary to act through socially useful projects, inclusive for all social groups, especially the most vulnerable. We urgently need exclusive Law on Social Entrepreneurship that will set a base and environment for these entities to operate and work for the benefit of all” said Maria Risteska, executive director of CRPM.
A special evaluation panel evaluated 18 business plans submitted by 18 CSOs. After the final calculation, the ten wining social enterprises are: Humanost (Skopje), Lice v lice (Skopje), Vinozhito (Radovish), Izbor (Strumica), Eko Logik (Skopje), Millenium (Tetovo), Center for Sustainable Initiatives (Skopje), Open the windows (Skopje), Local Development Agency (Struga) and Women's Organization of Municiplaity of Sveti Nikole (Sveti Nikole). They received start up grants to help them to implement their business plans. In addition to the grants, CRPM also provided mentoring support from the Macedonian companies which were granted special awards and labeled as "Good Brands". This group includes: OKTA, Stopanska banka ad. Bitola, Stopanska banka ad. Skopje, Pakomak, ORKA, Buchen Kozjak, Adora Engineering, Philip Morris and EVN Macedonia.
The Smart Start project in the first phase focused on transforming NGOs from non-profit into social enterprises, whereas the second phase will comprehend mentorship and support in order to facilitate their initial work and operation. All of the winners will be matched with a company labeled as “Good brand” depending on their joint interest, focus and filed of work.