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KNOWLEDGE-BASED SOCIAL ECONOMY: SE AND SR SOCIAL INCLUSION TO SOCIAL ENTERPRISE (SE)

The European Union, in its overall orientation set within a market-based European economy, has given pride of place, aside from the Green Economy, with which we are altogether concerned, to Social Inclusion, Entrepreneurship, and Responsibility. In 2008 a report (15) was commissioned into social inclusion, and thereby social enterprise, in Slovenia, by the OECD. For its academic authors, Spear (UK) and Galera (Italy), against the background of rising unemployment amongst certain groups, people with low skills, gaps in general-interest delivery, and growing social exclusion, social enterprises can be regarded as a unique way whereby innovative solutions can be found at the local level in strong co-operation with public agencies.

The Slovenian economy and, consequently, the sustainability and effectiveness of the Slovenian welfare system were hit hard by the recent financial and economic crisis. Following positive and stable economic growth which lasted for more than ten years, the 2008 global crisis caused a deterioration in economic conditions: the manufacturing and construction sectors were severely affected; despite anti-crisis measures amounting to EUR 75 million in 2009 and EUR 140 million in 2010, employment declined substantially owing to workers with fixed-term contracts being laid off, redundancy and firm bankruptcies alongside a general contraction in economic activity which also affected wages, and growth in gross wages started to slow significantly. This explains the increasing political interest in the social economy, and social enterprises in particular, as vehicles whereby crucial economic and social concerns could be successfully tackled.

When compared to traditional associations and operating foundations, social enterprises place a higher value on economic risk-taking related to an ongoing productive activity, that is to say the production of goods and services for sale. On the other hand, in contrast to many traditional co-operatives, social enterprises may be seen as more oriented to the whole community and as putting more emphasis on the dimension of general interest. As a consequence, social enterprises can combine different types of stakeholders in their membership, whereas traditional co-operatives and often associations have generally been set up as single-stakeholder organizations. Thus in Slovenia this ultimately led to the passing, in 2012, of the Social Entrepreneurship Act.

Social Entrepreneurship

We would argue that BC Naklo, while being a public enterprise, also has many of the facets of social entrepreneurship. According to the BC Naklo Prospectus (2013):

Located on the edge of the nature park in Gorenjska, as a high quality educational, research and development institution, we engage with nature, and thereby healthy food production, also involved in landscape management in cooperation with the sector, while encouraging entrepreneurship and innovations, centred upon our Inter-Enterprise Educational Centre.

In the Social Entrepreneurship Act (16), passed by the Slovenian National Assembly in 2102, it was explicitly stated that:

Social entrepreneurship shall strengthen social solidarity and cohesion, promote the participation of the people, support voluntary work, improve society's capacity for innovation in addressing social, economic, environmental and other issues, ensure the additional supply of products and services in the public interest, develop new employment possibilities, provide additional jobs and enable social integration and vocational reintegration of the most disadvantaged groups in the labour market (social entrepreneurship objectives).

We now turn to social responsibility.

Social Responsibility (SR)

IRDO (Institut za Razvoj Druzbene Odgovornosti, or Institute for the Development of Social Responsibility) (17), was founded in 2004 as non-profit organization in order to research and accelerate the development of social responsibility in Slovenia and elsewhere. IRDO's main purpose is to promote the networking of key activists concerned with social responsibility, whether in government, business, other institutions and organizations, or civil society, and to share common activities and campaigns for raising awareness in society at large about the need for, and the importance of such. IRDO's activities are based on the EU definition of (C)SR. For the European Union, the threefold character of social responsibility reads (ISO 26000) (17) as follows:

• Social responsibility is one's responsibility for one's impacts on society, meaning other humans and their organizations, rather than one-self only.

• Social responsibility is based on interdependence, meaning respecting the fact that nobody exists and works independently.

• Social responsibility is aimed at holistic approach, meaning that the humankind must give up exaggerated one-sidedness, which has been prevailing over the recent decades and centuries under the cover of the market fundamentalism and producing monopolies and related abuse, by-passing both market forces and also the combined concepts of the French and American revolutions: equality, brotherhood and freedom.

We now turn from the social to the living economy, and to the quintessence of Slovenia's Integral Green Economy.

 
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