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Giving and receiving: social enterprise in Europe

Giving and receiving: social enterprise in Europe
By Euronews

<p>One in four new businesses in Europe is what is known as a social entreprise. They provide opportunities for the most destitute and vulnerable in society to get a job or some training. But as well as playing a social role, these companies are also aiming for profit and competitiveness. Business Planet visited one such business in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana.</p> <p>Dobrovita Plus was founded in 1996 by Šent, one of the country’s largest <span class="caps">NGO</span>s, the founder of six other social entreprises nationwide.</p> <p>The company offers a broad range of services, from landscape gardening to cleaning. </p> <p>It employs 42 people, half of whom suffer from a disability and says the workforce is highly driven and resilient. </p> <p>“I always try and go beyond my limits at work. If I can do it, anyone can,” said employee Kemal Posedi. </p> <p>Another of the company’s strengths is its ability to diversify in order to meet market requirements and boost competitiveness. It recently added the services of land surveyors.</p> <p>“Bringing in land surveyors opens up our business to a higher market range, which gives us added value,” said Igor Pavel, Dubrovita Plus’ General Manager. </p> <p>The company’s turnover reached 750,000 euros in 2012 and growth is steady. “We’re planning on hiring an extra four to six people this year, and we’re expecting a rise in turnover of 10 to 15 percent,” Igor Pavel told euronews. </p> <p>The European Social Fund plays an active role in financing social enterprises, which account for 11 millions jobs across Europe.</p> <p>Dubrovita Plus is one of them: it received 300,000 euros from the European Social Fund. </p> <p>Nataša Goršek Mencin is the Head of Representation of the European Commission in Ljubljana. She explained the aim of the Fund is to help social entreprises start up and grow. </p> <p>“You invest in some start-ups, and then, when you remove your financing, the entity should be sustainable and continue its business,” she told us.</p> <p>In Slovenia, the Fund has helped some 26 social enterprises since 2009, with proven results. </p> <p>“It has given training to some 270 people and jobs to around 90 people in Slovenia,” said Nataša Goršek Mencin.</p> <p>For Igor Pavel the keys to success for a social enterprise are simple: “You have to be competitive, innovative and flexible, but you also have to be respectful of human beings and the environment.”</p>