How was Enterprising for Tomorrow 2022 - the biggest social economy event in Romania and the Eastern Partnership countries?

18.05.2022 / Romania

On 13 May, in the month of Promoting Social Economy, ADV Romania Foundation was the host of the biggest event in Romania and the Eastern Partnership countries dedicated to social economy - Enterprising for Tomorrow: Social Entrepreneurship & Youth Engagement, 2nd Edition. Important leaders from European institutions and organisations were present in Iasi, which became the capital of the social economy for one day.

  • 204 physical attendees
  • 1000+ online participants
  • 12 speakers
  • 14 social entrepreneurs



Marathon-event dedicated to the social economy sector 

The European-wide event brought together in one place all the latest data, trends and opportunities for the social economy players - the sector in which 10% of EU businesses operate.


Enterprising for Tomorrow 2022 included conference sections with 12 speakers, workshops with 14 social entrepreneurs from Romania, Rep. Moldova and Armenia and two national premieres – the Cinematheque of Social Economy and the Buy for Good Expo.


With the launch of the Social Economy Action Plan in December 2021, the European Commission expressed its strong commitment to support the sector which generates around 8% of the EU GDP and accounts for 10% of all enterprises. More than €2.5 billion will be allocated to the development of this sector over the coming years.


In this context, the social economy conference on 13 May was an opportunity to bring into the spotlight the most important initiatives and programmes that will support social economy enterprises in the coming years; statistics, case studies and stories to inspire the development of people, environment and community friendly enterprises.


More than 1,200 people from 19 countries attended the event dedicated to social economy organized by ADV Romania 

The event took place in a hybrid format - online on Zoom and in-person at Congress Hall Palas Iasi. More than 1,000 people from 19 countries watched the event on Zoom and 204 participants from Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia were present in the hall. Nearly 4,500 people watched the live stream on Facebook.


"Congratulations for everything: organization, speakers, information!!! Thank you for the opportunity to participate and we look forward to the next meeting and potential collaborations with other social enterprises / WISEs. It would be great if we could communicate more, create networks of social enterprises/ WISES and support each other!" - Vergina Chirițescu - CREDO Domnești Association - Argeș, social enterprise.


"The event exceeded my expectations. I managed to create international partnerships with the participants and improve my knowledge about current trends in social entrepreneurship in Europe." - conference participant.


"Congratulations! We were honoured to participate in this Conference, where the value and interest was at its highest. Thank you for your effort in organising this conference. DGASPC (General Directorate of Social Assistance and Child Protection) Satu Mare!" - Zsuzsanna Katocz


Europe's most important networks in the field of social economy and impact financing supported the event

Social Economy Europe, ENSIE - European Network for Social Integration Enterprises, EASPD - European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities, EuCIE - Social entrepreneurship through inclusive business, Diesis Network, Social Firms Europe (CEFEC) and EVPA - European Venture Philanthropy Association joined the event organized by ADV Romania and ensured its visibility at international level.


 Find out more about these organisations and how they see the social economy in 2030 here.


Top speakers, exclusive data and topics 

Leaders from the most important European institutions, from organisations representing the social economy in the European Parliament and the Commission, brought valuable ideas and information to the event.

Angela Achiței, President of ADV Romania, was the opening speaker and visionary leader behind the event. Angela was also one of the guest speakers at the conference "Social Economy, the future of Europe", organised by the Presidency of the European Parliament.


”May 13 will remain in the memory of social entrepreneurs not only as a beautiful moment to bring on the public agenda the topic of social economy, but also as an event in which those who had the courage and inspiration to walk this path, were in the spotlight on the scene of social innovation and the courage to build impactful businesses in the community," said Angela Achiței, President ADV Romania. 


Dana Verbal, team leader for the social economy at the European Commission, presented information from the European Social Economy Action Plan, a document on which she contributed directly. The Youth Entrepreneurship Policy Academy is one of the key initiatives in the Plan and will be launched this year.


”Both in Romania and in the other EU Member States there are many young people who want to do good things, so our role is to promote social entrepreneurship as a sustainable solution for the development of the whole of Europe," said Dana Verbal.


Antonella Noya, Head of the Social Economy and Innovation Unit at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), spoke about the latest OECD study on youth-led social enterprises. The data shows that young people are already an important part of the social economy:

  • 40% of social entrepreneurs in Germany are under 35
  • 18% of members of social economy organisations in Quebec are aged 35 and under


Víctor Meseguer, director of Social Economy Europe, presented the main objectives of the Social Economy Action Plan and brought some success stories from the social economy sector. 


"We are part of a community that represents an economic revolution. We are working to build an economy that works for people and the planet," said Víctor Meseguerdirector of Social Economy Europe.


Andrea Bratu, Investment Manager at the European Investment Fund (EIF), presented information about the newest funding programme launched by the European Investment Fund in April 2022 - InvestEU - EIF Guarantee Instruments 2022 - 2027. The direct beneficiaries are social economy enterprises, but funds will be accessible through alternative financing institutions. In Romania, these financing instruments could be accessed through AFIN - the alternative financing institution dedicated exclusively to the social economy sector.


Daniel Sorrosal, secretary general of FEBEA - European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks, recalled how he left a career in finance 19 years ago in London to become part of an emerging trend - social finance. Daniel Sorrosal also talked about his motivation to join the board of AFIN - the first Romanian-owned non-bank financial institution dedicated exclusively to the social economy sector.


Dónal Traynor, CEO Community Finance Ireland presented the story of the institution that has funded over 1,000 social economy enterprises and is the only provider of social finance in the UK and the EU. The story of this funding institution can be a model of best practice for countries where the impact finance market is still in its infancy, providing an insight into what such an institution can achieve for the social economy sector.


Ancuța Vameșu, President of Rise Romania, the Romanian Network of Social Inclusion Enterprises & founding member of AFIN, presented a report on the social economy sector in our country. The main findings of the Barometer of Social Economy in Romania, edition 2022:

  • the non-profit sector has the largest share in the social economy - 95% of all enterprises in the sector, i.e. 170,374 NGOs creating 74% of all jobs;
  • cooperatives have a low share in the sector - only 2%, but they create 25% of the total number of jobs
  • social enterprises with a certificate represent only 2% of the sector and create 1% of jobs - 2,514 social enterprises, of which 180 are social insertion enterprises.

The full list of speakers is available on the conference page.


Best practices and personal experiences shared by 14 social entrepreneurs 


The conference included two workshops with 14 social entrepreneurs from Romania, Moldova and Armenia. They brought the grassroots perspective of entrepreneurs who have chosen to develop new business models - which have a social mission at their core and solve community problems. Recycling waste oil, reducing food waste and waste, and including people with disabilities in employment are just a few examples.


Inspirational stories at the Social Economy Cinematheque 


The second part of the event was dedicated to the Social Economy Cinematheque, which took place in the Palas Atrium. 42 social entrepreneurs from the Social Enterprise Accelerator, nearing the end of their project, were celebrated by ADV Romania - the organisation through which they received training, funding and mentoring to set up a social enterprise.  The audience of almost 150 people present in the Atrium, Zoom participants and those who watched the live broadcast, had the opportunity to discover 42 videos showcasing social enterprises and ways to make a social impact and contribute to change in their communities.


"The European Social Economy Conference was designed to bring the success stories of social entrepreneurs from the Social Enterprise Accelerator programme into the spotlight, and was also a good time to share their own experiences and challenges, the lessons learned from implementing their business plans, and the opportunities identified along the way. The interventions of the social entrepreneurs during the two workshops of the conference, as well as the premiere of the videos presenting the story of each social enterprise in the programme, were an inspiring moment for all those connected to the event", underlined Manuela Iftimoaei, manager of the Accelerator of Social Enterprises project.


Buy for Good Expo

The event included the first expo of products and services made by social enterprises - Buy for Good Expo. The trade fair took place in the Atrium Palas Mall during the whole day of 13 May.


21 social enterprises presented their offer and impressed the visitors of the shopping centre with unique products and services that also have a positive impact in the community. They bought wooden toys and STEM kits, natural cosmetics, scented candles, handmade gifts and souvenirs, natural food and freshly roasted coffee.  11 businesses that featured items for sale sold a total of about 15,000 lei.


Testimoniale from participants

"Top speakers, impeccable organisation, relevant topics, successful entrepreneur guests... all ingredients for an impactful event! Congratulations! Very interesting presentations and very useful information!" - Ștefan Gabriel Burcea 


""Bravo! Today you have managed an outstanding marathon in the field of social entrepreneurship, from which we all have something to learn..." - Cezar Humelnicu 


"The event was an impactful one, by the scope of the topics addressed, the speakers invited and the useful information conveyed to the participants, by the impeccable organization and the quality of the entrepreneurs invited in the second part of the conference. I'm sorry I couldn't come to Iasi in person to participate in the other events organized during the conference, expo and the cinematheque of social economy!"”


""It is a beautiful and meaningful event for all members of the society. Whether in physical format or online it is worth getting to know our Heroes, the Conference is a perfect way!" 


The Barometer of Social Economy in Romania, edition 2022, will be available for free on the ADV Romania website, starting July 1st. 


Presentation films of the 42 social enterprises created within the Accelerator of Social Enterprises  


All the recordings and presentations from the event are available FREE to all those who subscribe to our Social Economy Newsletter


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