BAKU, Azerbaijan, September 30. Policies and recommendations for social enterprises can boost their activity in Azerbaijan, Lana Lovasic, international expert, who is working on the project in the country upon UNDP's behalf, told Trend.
According to the expert, there is an equal importance of both ecosystems of social enterprises themselves, and the policies provided.
“Both ecosystems and policies are important and they can survive without each other, but it is better when they are aligned and work together. So, there is more than one way to achieve the desirable result. If, for example, there is no policy, but the ecosystem is good, meaning the network comes together, you can have progress. If policies are good, meaning creating incentives, funds, and providing support, the result can be great as well,” she explained.
As Lovasic noted, social enterprises can focus on different things, and there are many different enterprises that focus on gender issues, for example, as women are usually considered as vulnerable groups.
“But, beyond this, what is very interesting, the global statistics show that social enterprises are usually run by women more than by men, and this seems to be the case in Azerbaijan as well,” she added.
Regarding the concept of corporate social responsibility, the expert noted that it usually refers to a traditional business, whether it is a corporate or a small business, which uses a small portion of their profit to engage in some kind of social or environmental work.
“For example, those could be such initiatives as the sustainability arm to address the pollution issue, or putting money in education. In some places this is required by law, in other places corporations do it because it is a social license - making sure that you are a good citizen, as a company,” Lovasic explained.
Social enterprises, on the other hand, are different, because they start from the impact, making a difference - this is the core of their activity, she said.
“So, what needs to be done right now in Azerbaijan is education and awareness raising, helping people to understand the potential of this system, and then, provide capacity building activities, such as trainings and programs, as well as funding - an early stage funding, such as grants and similar,” the expert noted.
Meanwhile, the workshop and the presentation of policy recommendation for social enterprises in Azerbaijan were organized recently within the ‘Developing innovation-driven and sustainable civil society in Azerbaijan’ project, funded by the EU and implemented by UNDP.
The project aims to help increase CSOs capacities to engage in policy-making processes, foster local development, and promote social entrepreneurship and social innovation.
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