EN interviewed Petro Darmoris, Director at Social Economy Ukraine (SEU). SEU was founded in 2022 with the aim to build a network of social economy stakeholders to solve the crucial social issues in Ukraine. Social Economy Ukraine unites Ukrainian entrepreneurs and organisations with social impact to provide necessary tailored support, foster cooperation, and represent their interests before state authorities and at the international level.
How did the idea of Social Economy Ukraine start?
The idea of establishing Social Economy Ukraine evolved organically. Petro has been working in the field of social entrepreneurship for about 8 years, mainly on acceleration and innovation problems and initiatives for start-ups. Later on, he also worked with NGOs and other nonprofit organisations, helping them in establishing and designing business models to achieve their mission and generate alternative sources of income. While joining the 2022 conference on Social Economy, The Future of Europe in Strasbourg as a keynote speaker, Petro had the chance to explain the role of social economy and social entrepreneurship in addressing those issues that were caused by or became more acute due to the war in Ukraine.
In Ukraine there were already good practices and enterprises that were focusing on people, their needs and on the environment rather than on profit only. They had the working models to create social and environmental impact but they used to work independently.
There were around 100 enterprises that could be called social enterprises in Ukraine but what was missing was a national platform or umbrella organisation. The kind of organisation that would function as a knowledge centre, representing the interests of social entrepreneurs before the national authorities and on an international level, doing research and mapping the social enterprises in Ukraine, their activities, needs and challenges and fostering cooperation between its members.
Thanks to the support of different networks in Europe, including the Euclid Network and Social Economy Europe, and the European Commission, especially Commissioner Nicholas Schmit, Social Economy Ukraine was formally established on 1 December 2022.
The mission of SEU is to foster social economy ecosystem development in Ukraine. And the first step here is to map the Ukrainian social economy ecosystem as it is now to understand the number of players, their challenges, needs and goals. This will allow us to do the next step – to facilitate communication, networking and then – cooperation among different players on different levels.
Another priority for SEU is to foster the processes of policy making by building relationships with different governmental organisations and institutions on a local, regional, and national level. The focus of SEU is also on developing the network for social enterprises. Last but not least, SEU aims to be the platform for business support in general.
What is the Social Business Club?
The Social Business Club is a network of around 30 social enterprises/socially-conscious businesses. This initiative is currently in the piloting phase of exploring the needs of the sector. After defining the expected benefits from the network and analysing the collected data, SEU will be able to publicly announce the establishment of the first national business community for social enterprises in Ukraine.
We want the Social Business Club to be able to provide its members with tailored support and to foster cooperation between Social Entrepreneurs and Social Enterprise Support Organisations.
How can we support SEU in further developing and advancing the social economy sector in Ukraine?
The war had a negative impact on the social economy in Ukraine, causing social issues, lack of income and funding, increasing unemployment rate and migration. In order to support SEU in their mission and addressing social issues in Ukraine, financial and non-financial support for different purposes is needed.
The more financial resources we have, the more we can invest in the development of the sector in the Country […] But we should also develop and foster bilateral cooperation with the social economy umbrella organisations in those Countries where Ukrainian refugees are temporarily staying.
A mutual cooperation programme was recently designed between SEU and the Lithuanian Social Business Association (LiSVA) to empower Ukrainian refugees with the know-how and skills to set up a social business in Lithuania.
Hence, more external support, in terms of funding and donations, is required to continue taking care of Ukrainians abroad, rebuild the economy in Ukraine and solve the refugee crisis in the host countries.
Social Economy Ukraine aims to work, not just in Ukraine, but also outside.
Joining Euclid Network…
Petro mentioned to us that he appreciates the Euclid Network business model and the concept of being “the network of networks”. SEU is taking Euclid Network as a benchmark to build their local national network and develop their sustainable business model.
EN members are offered the opportunity to participate in networking events, exchange knowledge and best practices and collaborate on different projects. This is crucial to SEU, as a new organisation.
Looking ahead, SEU would also like to learn from the successful cases available in other European countries and be actively involved in the research activities under the European Social Enterprise Monitor (ESEM).
We count on the strong cooperation with the Euclid Network and to contribute to their European Social Enterprise Monitor. We wish to have the National Country Report on Social Enterprises in Ukraine for 2023, which would be the most detailed mapping of the social enterprises in the Country.
Watch the full interview with Petro Darmoris, Director at Social Economy Ukraine below:
Interview conducted by Caterina Tognoni, EN Communication Officer