In the EU around 14 million people are employed in social enterprises

Students from the University of National and World Economy (UNWE) and the St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Turnovo, representatives of ministries and NGOs met today at the UNWE and debated on the theme “Opportunities for development of social entrepreneurship in 2014 -2020 - Creating employment for young people” together with guest lecturer and Vice-President of Group III at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) Ariane Rodert.

Organizers of the forum are the Economic and Social Council of Bulgaria (ESC) and the University of National and World Economy, supported by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. In the forum also took part the ESC President Prof. Lalko Dulevski and the Rector of the UNWE Prof. Statty Stattev. Clarifications for policies and employment opportunities in social enterprises were presented to the students by representatives of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and the Ministry of Economy.

The European Commission has declared the social economy as a priority and allocated special funds for its development in the next period up to 2019. The question before us is if we would be able to realize the importance of the social economy and the social entrepreneurship as well as how we should organise ourselves well enough to be able to gain accesses to the funds and make them work in the interest of the society. This was statement by Prof. Lalko Dulevski, President of the Economic and Social Council of Bulgaria during the opening of the discussion at the University of National and World Economy. The social economy is aimed at solving the problems of people where the state or municipalities could not resolve them, explained Prof. Lalko Dulevski, adding that the role of social enterprises and social entrepreneurs will play an increasingly large role.

Bulgaria is one of the few European countries which has developed conception and action plan for the development of social enterprise and social entrepreneurship, stated Ariane Rodert. She determined the social economy as an important priority for the EU and outlined the steps needed at national and pan-European level: political will and legislative definition of social economy and enterprises and also making a clear distinction between ordinary business and social entrepreneurship, which is not based on a purely commercial basis; accesses to finance for social enterprises; study of practices and analyzes; not least - recognition of the social entrepreneurs for the benefits to society. Achieving sustainability and creating networks of social enterprises are challenges for Bulgaria as well as for the EU, said also Mrs. Rodert. During the discussion it became clear that 14 million people in the European Union work in social enterprises.

The representatives of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and the Ministry of Economy introduced the participants with the new opportunities for financing within the operative programmes. It became clear that around 2000 non-financial enterprises “identify” themselves as "social enterprises" and employ around 30,000 people. Representatives of already functioning social enterprises and foundations, which are funding social activities, have underlined the need for broad discussion on the future of social entrepreneurship.

The Student club of young entrepreneurs declared that there is a great interest for social entrepreneurship among young people, but they need more concreate information on financing and starting capital.

Save the Bulgarian traditions in the field of social enterprises because Bulgaria has over 100 years of tradition in this field in the face of the cooperatives, advised at the end the Vice-president of Group III at the EESC Ariane Rodert.



The social entrepreneurship and social enterprises take key place in the agenda of the European Commission as well as in the strategy “Europe 2020”. Bulgaria has a developed National Conception for the Social Economy and the ESC has repeatedly adopted opinions and made suggestions for support and development of the social economy in Bulgaria. One of the typical manifestations of social economy in our country are cooperatives created 120 years ago. They include mutual companies, associations and specialized enterprises for work integration. They all work to achieve social or public purposes. The cooperative sector in the EU during the period 2003 - 2009 noted employment growth of 23%, which practically means that the cooperatives earn people's trust. The EC introduced a special investment priority in the European Social Fund from 2014. Among the many acts and recommendations of the ESC aimed at development of social economy and entrepreneurship the following stand out: cooperatives and social enterprises to be included in public policies and programmes to solve the problems of unemployment, social exclusion and poverty; specific social protection of the interests of cooperators who are simultaneously employers and owners; a clear regulation of the subjects of the social economy; reliable statistical database on the social economy; to include the profession “social entrepreneur” in the classification of professions and others.

Note: Ariane Rodert is the Vice-president Group III of the EU Institutional advisory body - the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). In this capacity as well as board member of the EESC internal market section and EESC representative in the European Commission high level expert group on social business (GECES), she actively works on the dossier of social enterprise and social investment. She is coordinating the EESC project on Social Enterprise. She is member of various EESC working groups such as Permanent Group for Services of General Interest and the Social Economy Category Group. As a Swedish member of the EESC she represents Famna – the Swedish umbrella organization for non-profit health care and social service providers, as well as Forum for Voluntary Social Work - the platform for social voluntary organizations in Sweden.




is the “bridge” between citizens and the national government. Its mission is to support such “bridging” so as to facilitate the communication between the society and the national government. It is the new and modern institution of the civil dialogue.

The ESC's mission is to promote civil society organisations access to and involvement in the process of decision-making on strategic economic and social issues.

The main goal of ESC's operation is to enable different representatives of organised civil society to feel free to state their views whereas unanimity on matters of common interest is encouraged. The Council expresses and protects civil society interests by communicating agreed statements and proposals submitted by its members to the executive and legislative authorities.

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