Welcome to Entrepreneurship Academy Forum, which we are organizing within the Global Entrepreneurship Week, which is being traditionally held every year in the third week of November.
This year’s forum gathered us to present users of program Social Business Development, which we are realizing within the regional program of EFSE fund Entrepreneurship Academy. We started a year ago with the presentation of 10 years’ experience in the development of social entrepreneurship of colleagues from the Croatian ACT Group, which is presented in the book Punk Entrepreneurs.
In March this year, we selected 10 beneficiaries of a mentoring support program implemented with the support of the EFSE Fund, with the aim of helping social companies and companies with social impact develop business models and improve their businesses. The goal of the program is to support entrepreneurs to bring their business from start-up to growth and development phase.
The program lasts for 12 months and involves an analysis of the existing business model of the company, development of a business model in accordance with the beneficiary potential and market conditions, three-month progress evaluation, improvement of managerial knowledges and skills, but also promotion and networking.
CEPS, as an organization engaged in the development of social entrepreneurship, mainly focuses on supporting social enterprises that mostly operate in the form of non-governmental organizations, as well as supporting classical entrepreneurs with a clear impact component, that is, a clear social impact that they have on the community.
As far as experience is concerned, a year ago we did a survey on social enterprises in Montenegro for the needs of the European Commission, i.e. DG Employment and Social Affairs from Brussels, which showed us that over 100 social enterprises operate in Montenegro, mostly in the form non-governmental organizations, but also in the form of limited liability companies, cooperatives and protective workshops, which are registered in accordance with the Law on the Professional Rehabilitation of PWD.
As an organization that in addition to providing mentoring and trainings also conducts researches, we must say that we are proud that Montenegro, which has been significantly behind the region for years, is gradually creating a supportive environment for the development of social, female and youth entrepreneurship and start-up communities, first and foremost thanks to all of you who are here today. 3-4 years ago you could count the number of social enterprises, young entrepreneurs, women in business and start-ups on your fingers. Today the situation is much different, but we must not stop and have to work on networking and cooperation for the results of all of us to be even better.
The research “Social Entrepreneurship in the Function of Development of Montenegro“, published two years ago with the support of today’s sponsors of the prize fund – Erste Bank and the Capital, indicates that tens of thousands of new jobs can be created using existing resources. What is crucial is that there has never been more free money in the market, but it has never been more difficult to place money, that is, to get money. The representatives of financial institutions that are with us today know this very well, but also the entrepreneurs who often have great ideas but do not have adequate collateral to secure bank loans.
To come up with projects that can absorb tens and hundreds of thousands of euro loans, we need to get back to beginners who are having a hard time getting the initial capital and non-financial support for business development. Therefore, the main focus of CEPS in the upcoming period will be to provide non-financial support to business development in the form of mentoring, business consulting and management skills development training. Also, one of our goals is to create an equity fund for businesses with social impact, to enable them to more easily test and develop their business idea and reach a stage of development where they can easily apply for the necessary funds with commercial banks.
In short, as far as our plans are concerned, with the support of the EFSE Fund and our other partners, we continue to provide mentoring support for business development, a quarterly Youth Entrepreneurship Academy will start soon, we are planning to launch a virtual accelerator for businesses with social impact in the next year. Within the Social Impact Award, i.e. Award for Social Change, we plan to include at least 600 young people across Montenegro through trainings for developing business ideas and starting a business.
I said at the beginning, a year ago we started presenting the experience of our colleagues from Croatia with the program Social Business Development. Today, within the panel that will follow after the competition and a coffee break, we will hear about the Mosaic Foundation’s experience in supporting businesses with social impact, we will talk about entrepreneurship support programs implemented by EFSE Fund with the support of regional partners, and we will also hear what kinds of support the beginners in business can get from the Ministry of Economy and Tehnopolis from Niksic.
Lastly, I would like to express special gratitude to Erste Bank and the Capital City for sponsoring the € 3,000 prize fund, which will be shared to the best business ideas that will be presented to you soon. In agreement with EFSE Fund representatives and sponsors, at the end of today, 3 prizes will be awarded in the amount of € 1,000 each for: social impact, innovation and business model sustainability.
Thank you for your attention, I invite business representatives to prepare to showcase their businesses and the impact they have on the community.
*Speech by Anto Jankovic, President of CEPS, at the opening of the Forum