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Is social entrepreneurship a new economic model of the future or merely an ethical model?

World-class top-notch experts in the field of social entrepreneurship and those who implement it in practice have in the today` s discussion jointly clearly established that the link between social entrepreneurship and social responsibility is in social entrepreneurship using the elements of social responsibility and thus in practice contributing its share to social responsibility as a whole.

Also the differences between social and business entrepreneurs were explained. Thus, the social entrepreneur recognizes social problems and uses entrepreneurial principles for organizing, creating and managing a company in order to achieve social changes (social enterprises). Whereas, the business entrepreneur generally measures efficiency in profit and refund, the social entrepreneur is focused on creating social capital. Therefore the main purpose of social entrepreneurship is to achieve social and environmental aims.

The event was attended by those interested in the matter, members of the American Chamber of Commerce – AmCham Slovenia, the leading Slovene media representatives, representatives from the Ministry of Labor, Family and Social Affairs and from the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, which is a good sign as it is showing that the Government of the Republic of Slovenia is attentive towards the good practice at home and abroad and wishes to implement their experiences into the active actualization of social entrepreneurship also in Slovenia.

The round table was led by Matevž Slokar, a young entrepreneur, manager and owner of a young and dynamic company Slo-bar, which is currently employing 12 people, and who is as a young man personally motivated for the enforcement of social entrepreneurship in Slovenia, as also he himself is founding such a company.

The lecturers shared their views on the opportunities and challenges of social entrepreneurship in Slovenia and abroad and left a powerful impression about the future society on all participants.

Honorary Professor, Dr Dr MATJAŽ MULEJ, the Slovene long-time voice of making aware either individuals, companies or the entire society about the larger social responsibility, pointed out that for the development and functioning of a quality future society we all need one another in sense of strong interdependence and at the same time quality coexistence with the nature, as our planet may survive easily without mankind, but the mankind certainly cannot survive without our planet. In his opinion, a better tomorrow may be anticipated especially due to innovations, values, culture, ethics and new standards, changes in thinking and behavior of an individual being an important part of the whole society towards the point of view that the importance of social responsibility prevails highly over the significance of charity as an individual aspect of social responsibility. »What is your decision based on – on values or merely on knowledge?«, was a question asked by Dr Dr Mulej. He explained that the progress of future society is based on the so-called 3T Formula: on tolerance, talent and on technology, that is only a part of the whole. »It is over with the so-called economy in the cloud (Bubble Economy) – other objective pressure in a form of holism rises.« Therefore, he appeals to people that for the welfare of the entire society we can do a lot already as individuals and at the same time proposes to the government concrete approaches towards solutions and operations in the direction of social responsibility either of an individual or a company, with the emphasis on the fact that neither the market nor the government in these efforts can not succeed purely by themselves.

He pointed out that the high level of implementation of social responsibility is crucial for long-term operation and development of a company, as the loss of business partners, market or suppliers because of non-compliance with the global trends of pursuance of social responsibility in business may be an expensive or even fatal cost for a company. »We should act unselfishly for selfish purposes.«, was the realistic epilogue of our great promoter and builder of future society based on basis of interdependence and not of (in)dependence, Dr Dr Matjaž Mulej.

Dr MAXIMILIAN MARTIN, creator of the definition of »social entrepreneurship« in Europe and ardent initiator of linking areas of knowledge, economy and the public good to a common denominator for building the future society, optimistically pointed out that we will all the past mistakes of companies, individuals and of systems, all together put right with a decisive role of individuals who think outside the box (»out of the box thinking«), who are like individual fish swimming in the opposite direction than their shoal. As an example of good practice he pointed out engineers and innovators from the Green Economy, where globally just now a green revolution of mobility is happening, labeled them as “non-classic” individuals for having in addition to their work also an important mission and are therefore capable of making moves others namely would not be able to. Therefore it seems crucial to him that as a society we should recognize those individuals who with their thinking stand out a mile and from the system and have a unique approach, views and visions, which at first perhaps appear shocking or unacceptable, however in time they manage to change the settled way of thinking and acting of an individual; innovations – and last but not least – may as well change the system with them. Dr Maximilian stressed out that such people work at ASHOKA organization (ASHOKA is the largest community of social entrepreneurs in the world). ASHOKA definition of operation: »Social entrepreneurs are not satisfied with giving fish to people or to teach them how to fish. They will not rest until revolutionizing the entire fishing industry. (Bill Drayton, Ashoka Chairman)“, or in other words, Ashoka Fellows are the pioneers of social innovations, have impact on their scale and ultimately change the systems.«

As the challenge of our decade, he marked the shift of social entrepreneurship from the margins into the center of working of business and society. Among the aims he set for the year of 2020 is the adoption of social entrepreneurship in order to solve social problems. He said that social entrepreneurship is taught in every major university and thus provide a sufficient supply of social entrepreneurs.

He pointed out that we certainly have problems on this planet however we also have a lot of knowledge and opportunities for which he believes that altogether we will be able to solve global problems – in any case we have to be attentive to warnings but at the same time maintain optimism. He summarized the importance of sustainable development in a meaningful and well-known saying: »To be or not to be!« for which it is better that we succeed.

According to his experiences, Dr Martin assessed that Slovenia has all the potential for the social entrepreneurship becoming the mainstream activity and appealed to us, Slovenes to position ourselves and to recognize the strategically important position of our state and furthermore told us that despite we are a small nation, we have all the opportunities to become competitive on the European scale. Dr Martin also pointed out that he and professor Lindner closely cooperate with Sandi Češko from Studio Moderna, which is one of the leading companies actively working on the transfer of practices of social entrepreneurship from other countries to Slovenia.

He encouragingly concluded his views by saying that in the existing circumstances Slovenes are not alone and that we are part of a global movement. »Together we can make it!« he very optimistically predicted the common future.

Professor JOHANNES LINDNER, who is introducing new methods of education, either in or outside the classroom in order to impress and institutionalize the social entrepreneurship as a means to achieve effective citizenship for students, believes that entrepreneurial skills are essential for educating the independent young people and for creating active citizens. Although the methods of educating entrepreneurship already existed from time to time in the past,

Lindner` s focus on social entrepreneurship as a path to effective citizenship is definitely unique.

Professor pointed out the weaknesses of the present educational system, among other in the fact that students nowadays do not feel to have opportunities for the development and success, although in his opinion, the time for incredible opportunities is right now. According to his view it is of significant importance that the children and students learn to create and develop values. He sees she solution of coordinating different opinions within discussions in which individuals expose different ideas, views and through good arguments either of a group or of an individual they altogether achieve solutions to specific situations.

He spoke about dimensions of the implementation of entrepreneurial education in schools and pointed out that it is significant to know where, when, how, who and why it is necessary to implement such methods of education in schools.

He sees the importance of entrepreneurial education as the bridge between the entrepreneurial / professional independence and education on how to become a responsible citizen.

According to his experiences, he is convinced that teachers across Europe are willing to follow and to introduce the idea of social entrepreneurship also within the educational process however they definitely need support from their communities for succeeding in it.

MIHA JEŠE, M.Sc., the present mayor of Škofja Loka and long-time businessman who has been in the field of social entrepreneurship active already for more than 20 years, replied to the question of the moderator Matevž Slokar, if in his opinion Slovenia is ready for social entrepreneurship, that he himself has been dealing with this idea already from the year 1990 and introduced it into practice when he in the same year took over a demanding task of solving the textile factory Gorenjska predilnica from bankruptcy and the loss of many working posts for local people and is very proud of his visions and success that there are in the factory still 140 people employed, whereas during the period of 20 years without intermediate stops at the employment office, as much as 700 factory workers retired.

He pointed out that the current crisis could and should teach us a lot about where we could improve and that each of us has the opportunity to find his place in the world where he would find himself necessary and useful. He also within the social entrepreneurship sees the opportunity for 3-4 % unemployed people in Škofja loka, who are about to retire and are therefore hardly employable group of people.

JOE GRAY, who has completed a training program at Jamie Oliver, in the Fifteen Restaurant, pointed out, that the start he experienced within the social entrepreneurship program is the best possible start for a young person in the world. “Jamie Oliver is so inspiring at everything he achieved, what he does and is constantly coming up with new ideas, which most would never think of. He really left stamp on me and gave me confidence that I can accomplish a lot. It was the first thing I actually ended in my life and I am therefore now having big ambitions and entrepreneurial view on life. ”

He emphasized to be very proud of his achievement and that he out from “nothing” developed into a successful young man. He founded the company for organizing events in London and is now in the process of founding his second company with even more ideas for the future.

Matevž Slokar presented Joe Gray as a typical example of how the social entrepreneurship can do a lot for a community.