Partnership is a key factor for the success of social entrepreneurs in Europe. This is the theme of the International Conference "Partnership for Change", organized by the Reach for Change Foundation under the Operational Program "Human Resources Development".
The conference was opened by Yordanka Fandakova, Mayor of Sofia. In her opinion, the discussion is important for the development of our whole society because solutions to a large part of the social problems go through the involvement of institutions, civil organizations and business and through innovation and digital technologies.
"We have a lot of energy in Sofia and many successful practices," Fandakova said. In her words, this is due to the realization that social problems are the whole society and they can be resolved in an active way, with consistent coordinated actions and consistent policies.
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The overall policy of the municipality is being discussed and the problems are solved by uniting the civil sector. The municipality's policy covers support for disadvantaged people and their inclusion in various socio-economic activities, Fandakova said. The municipality owns social enterprises, with 28 people working in Lausanne.
According to Fandakova, the right financial instruments can be found as it is the Europe Program. It is aimed at enterprising people and organizations to be financially supported. BGN 100 000 is the budget of the pilot project.
Together we continue, because only by enabling people to participate actively and with the efforts of the business will we achieve concrete results, the mayor of Sofia has called.
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The focus of this discussion is one of the most important values - the partnership. This is the great power of social entrepreneurship, creating new jobs and more participation in democratic processes, says Mario Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society.
She presented current data according to which in Europe there are 2 million enterprises in the social economy, and 11 million people are engaged in the sector, accounting for only 6% of total employment.
Clear rules are needed for platform-business relationships. There must be a mechanism by which small, social entrepreneurs can stand up for their rules, Maria Gabriel was categorical.
"Our European approach is to provide a fair competitive environment. Access to capital is important for the development of ideas," she added.
Gabriel drew attention to several European initiatives. These are the Employment and Social Innovation Program, with a special focus on young people, the Horizon 2020 Program to finance innovative companies, which has a capital of over EUR 2 billion.
Sofia is elected to host the annual Staartop Meeting (Startup) for digital hubs. I sincerely hope that young people will benefit from these opportunities, mainly from networking and access to capital, Gabriel has called.
She expressed hope for a new "Digital Europe" with a budget of € 9 billion for the period 2021-2027.
A new digital innovation hub program is being implemented in the current project. The current budget is EUR 500 million, and the next budget is set at EUR 1.5 billion, the EU commissioner stressed.
"Test before you invest" is the message of the hubs, where young people can find information about niches on the market, as well as learn about the project implementation. Only 37% of our core strength has digital skills. We do not have 300,000 IT experts, pointed out Maria Gabriel.
More than 2 million people participated in the European Programming Week, and social entrepreneurs were the most active, the EU commissioner noted with optimism.
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Bulgaria once again hosts a major event in the field of social entrepreneurship, making it an attractive center for innovation development. This was expressed by Minister of Labor and Social Policy, Biser Petkov.
According to Petkov, without encouraging social innovation, the real and qualitative results would be limited. The ministry supports activities that can be involved in shaping policies that drive change in society and unleash the potential of social enterprises.
We expect the adoption of the Law on Enterprises of the Social and Solidarity Economy to give impetus to development. Sharing good experiences will help to find ideas and create networks of followers and followers, Petkov assured.
Over 40 leading industry experts took part in the international forum.