The closing event of the international Socrates project “Strengthening the Social Economy for Innovative and Resilient Regions” took place on Tuesday 3 October at the Simulaker Gallery in Novo Mesto. The 18-month project, which ends at the end of October, brought together seven partners: the Municipality of Novo mesto as the leading partner, the Development center Novo mesto, the City of Zagreb, the City of Poznan (Poland), the Hajdú-Bihar District (Hungary), as well as Impact Hub Budapest and Impact Hub Zagreb.

The last act, which took place in Novo Mesto, was an opportunity for the actors to present their results and their impact on the environment. “During the meetings, the partners realized they are facing similar problems in the field of social entrepreneurship, especially in the area of legislation and financial support, and found out how existing social enterprises deal with these challenges,” emphasised project coordinator Iris Pšunder from Development Centre Novo mesto and highlighted the importance of such enterprises for the well-being of the environment. “Social enterprises are an important part of the mosaic that improves our society. Projects like this encourage this part of society to develop better and understand it better,” said Franci Bratkovič, Director of the Novo mesto Development Centre, in his speech. Deputy Mayor of the Municipality of Novo mesto, Sara Tomšič, presented the local welfare office opened this year, which provides Novo mesto with access to various information for different life challenges, and Ana Belac, Deputy Director of Impact Hub Ljubljana, informed the audience about the vision and future of social entrepreneurship in this space.

During the 18 months that the Socrates project lasted, the international partners carried out an analysis of the social economy market for each region, participated in three social economy visits abroad where they shared knowledge, experiences and best practises, and the result is local action plans for each of the regions. Together they have produced four local action plans and a handbook of good practises that can be adopted by other countries, regions, etc.. “The main objectives of the project were to develop international cooperation, exchange knowledge and good practises, promote social entrepreneurship and prepare action plans that would be a supportive environment for the development of social entrepreneurship in each region,” says Iris Pšunder.

At the round table, the partners presented the results of the project and took a closer look at their local action plans and the good practise guide that had been produced. They all agreed on the importance of this kind of project, which helped them to share knowledge and build international relationships that will help them in the future to advance the social economy in each region.