After a year of collaboration in implementing the European Social Enterprise Monitor, we welcome The Hungarian Coalition of Social Enterprises as the newest member of Euclid Network.
It is our greatest pleasure to join forces with The Hungarian Coalition of Social Enterprises – a newly established Coalition representing and supporting the development of all social enterprises in Hungary. We spoke with Andrea Mészáros, the Chairman of the association as well as Áron Jakab, an active member of the organisation to learn more about the overall mission and strategic goals of the association.
Introducing The Hungarian Coalition of Social Enterprises
The Hungarian Coalition of Social Enterprises is a self-organizing association which is dedicated to the true representation and development of the Hungarian social entrepreneurship sector. Andrea Mészáros is the Chairman of the association and has over 20 years of experience working within the social sector. Alongside her chairmanship, Andrea is also involved in various other projects as she runs a foundation, which set up two restaurants and a chocolate manufacturer that employs disabled persons but she also runs a kindergarten for primary-school children. Áron Jakab, is also a well-experienced social entrepreneur. He has been managing his own social enterprise, FRUIT OF CARE since 2010 which first launched the idea of responsible gifts to the Hungarian market. His organisation has a positive impact on the everyday life of many disadvantaged and disabled individuals all over the country by giving them the opportunity to showcase their talent and earn a living.
Andrea and Áron talked about the overall attitudes towards social entrepreneurship in Hungary as they shared that the idea behind the foundation of the association was the need to represent social enterprises in Hungary at various levels, local and national, towards market actors and policy makers.
“It is challenging to clearly define what social entrepreneurship is due to the complexity of expectations and legal structures. There is a quite a lot of noise around social entrepreneurship which makes communication about them and lobbying for them to decision makers even harder at times”
Moreover, Áron shed light on the need to further support social enterprises in post-Soviet countries such as Hungary, since there has been a lack of organic development. Due to the strong necessity surrounding clarification and support towards social enterprises – The Hungarian Coalition of Social Enterprises emerged.
Social Enterprises in the Coalition
When the association was launched two years ago, it was an important priority that most members should be social enterprises. However as the membership has been growing there is an urgency to create an assessment system for SE verification, which would also help with the association lobbying activity. Therefore, they started a pilot project with SEWF in order to adapt the SEWF Verification to the Hungarian market. Currently, the Coalition has 20 members from diverse fields of activity and social missions. The association is looking for organisations, companies and individuals who wish to contribute to the development of social entrepreneurship and the creation of funding and growth opportunities.
We asked Andrea and Áron what the association’s current aims are and how they interpret social enterprises to which they responded:
“Even though the sector in Hungary is small it is quite heterogenous. Their sizes, level of development differ greatly, they operate in many shape and form and come from different background. It was clear for us, that do not want to form an elite club of the few, still as we want to focus on social enterprises we need to develop a clear distinction between social enterprises and civil society and the mainstream businesses on the other .”
The main goals of the association are to create an ecosystem which enables the launching, financing and growth of social enterprises. The Coalition also considers its role to promote and raise awareness of social enterprises in Hungary. Aiming to fill a void by representing the interests of the diverse Hungarian social enterprise community, the coalition is very open towards discussions and eager to see how the sector develops overtime.
Activities and Looking Ahead
Alongside their aim to grow and find new partners, The Hungarian Coalition of Social Enterprises is involved in a range of activities. On the lobbying front, the Coalition has been active over the last two years in trying to enhance its connections with various policy and decision makers. Moreover, the association has been networking with junior ministers to make the case for social enterprises that have an important role in the development of sustainable and inclusive economic growth. The Coalition has recently started a three-month trial period with Social Enterprise World Forum to work on a verification system which outlines the differences in legal framework. They have also been in contact with members of the financial and business sector in order to create opportunities of cooperation with the social entreprises.
When asked what they are looking to gain from Euclid Network membership, Andrea and Áron said the main catalyst was to strengthen cooperation and link the Hungarian ecosystem to the wider Eu and international ecosystems:
“Social Entrepreneurship is an concept that the Hungarian government is unwilling to embrace, there is some scepticism since it does not fit into the traditional concept of business, and its link to civil society. This has had a negative impact on the development of the sector for over a decade and which resulted in a weakening of the whole ecosystem. Euclid Network membership allows us to work together with like-minded organisations on an intellectual as well as on practical level. Euclid Network can bring us into a transnational family, give us a voice and strengthen the Coalition as an organisation.”
We are happy to share EU networks and connections to benefit the Coalition and look forward to collaborating with The Hungarian Coalition of Social Enterprises since we are positive that through sharing ideas and knowledge, this collaboration will benefit both parties! We welcome The Hungarian Coalition of Social Enterprises!