Second Regional Social Academy “Social Enterprises – An Innovative Model for sustainable service delivery and integration of marginalized groups in the labour market and society” was held from 27 – 30 May 2019. in Tirana. Under the framework of IRIS Networking CSOs for protection sensitive migration management, project is funded by European Commission and implemented through joined forces of 6 NGOs from 5WB countries: IDC Serbia, ASB South East Europe, SOS Podgorica, LIR Civil Society from B&H, ARSIS Albania and La Strada North Macedonia
Over 30 participants, IRIS network members, distinctive mid-career public servants, scholars, activists and professionals from civil society organizations from the region, who were selected to participate on Academy, had a unique opportunity to benefit from a diversified training package, introduction of legal framework and practical models of social enterprises in the region, exploring innovative entrepreneurship activities for the development of the region through higher inclusion of migrants, Roma, women, youth and PwD and other marginalized groups into labour market, and social services delivery.
Participants attended 4 day tailor-made training consisted of different learning methodologies including lectures, workshops, discussions and field visits.
At the beginning of this four-day journey, Jelena Adjelkovic, project Manager in IDC Serbia and Masa Mitrovic, Project Manager from ASB South East Europe, presented Iris Network activities to all members and introduced participants to Social Academy agenda.
On first training day, Anto Janković form Center for Economic Prosperity and Freedom in Montenegro and Juliana Hoxha from Partners Albania for Change and Development introduced participants with main Academy topics:
What is Social Enterprise?
Concepts and Schools of Thought
Different models of Social Enterprises – From Service Delivery to Sustainable Social Enterprises
Leaded by Anto & Juliana, through presentations and tactical workshops, participants learned how to start with social business and how to place it on the market.
Marko provided to participants first-hand experience when it comes to how social enterprises can recognize opportunities in the community and the market. He also gave some inputs how to determinate customer and target groups, ways of finding sources for funding social enterprises and how to measure the social impact!
Start thinking big, if you think small, everything will be small and unreachable. Change always comes from inside, said Marko
Afternoon on second training day was reserved for business model canvas and how to use it for social enterprise design. Participant had hard mission this afternoon, to create business plan for developing their own social brand. Results were outstanding thanks to mentoring support of our trainer’s trio.
Peak of the Academy was third day who was reserved for filed visit and introducing with successful examples of social enterprising in Tirana.
First visit was to YAPS, Youth Albania Professional Services, which is the first social business in Tirana. The company works in the fields of parcel delivery, cleaning and fix-it services. It was founded in 2001 and currently employs 112 people. The employees are orphans, Roma, Egyptians or people coming from a difficult financial background. Before they start to work for the company, they receive training by YAPS.
After some start-up financing they are now a commercially run company. The director, Arben Shamija, explained that with their surplus YAPS has financed a kindergarten for the city and some other social projects. One of the secrets of his success is making the employees as responsible for their own work as possible.
Although this enterprise had great success in short time, they are all still struggling with funding, legislation and bureaucracy, Even they fully employ marginal groups and persons with disabilities, they have no benefits what so ever, paying full taxes and have no such as support from the Government.
Next stop on our field visit was Qendra Xhonatan / Jonathan Center, a nonprofit organization, with the purpose of helping children with Down’s syndrome, autism and children with similar special needs, and at the same time to increase the awareness of their families to achieve the best for their life. As they say, intention is to bring a change in the spiritual approach and the possibility that Albanian society can accept and create an environment where the children with special needs can be integrated and achieve the best in life.
Work therapy, music therapy, psycho-social workshops and many other things, help these children not only to survive and have a life, jet to have fun and happy life and integrate in society.
As a part of the center, in coffee shop Qendra, children with special needs are serving coffee, organizing events, karaoke, shows, theater…
Johnatan Centre is fully funded from the coffee shop profit and donations.
On last Academy day, Nikica Kusinikova and Eric Layton from European Network of Social Integration Enterprises – ENSIE talked about Legal Framework & Practices of Social Enterprises around the Region and Europe
Klotilda Kosta, from Partners Albania for Change and Development, closed the Second Regional Social Academy of Iris Network with workshop and presentations on policy recommendation on Social Enterprises development
All 30 participants successfully finished this adventure! On closing ceremony, they obtained certificates, and entered Academy Alumni.
Also, participation and great results that participant achieved on this Academy will be seen as an advantage when applying for EU based traineeships organized by IRIS network.
Now, upon finishing this adventure, some of participants will have the opportunity to receive the scholarship for traineeship in the relevant organization social service provider located in EU.
Until next Iris Regional Social Academy…