Strengthening social entrepreneurship & social investment in CEE

Increasing capacity, connectivity and visibility among social entrepreneurship support organisations in the Central and Eastern European region

Our mission

By inviting organisations and various stakeholders to co-create activities, tools and a forum for debate, we are addressing the main challenges of organisations supporting social entrepreneurs in CEE. Our objective is to improve the effectiveness, sustainability and reach of organisations supporting social entrepreneurs in CEE.

We will achieve this through learning opportunities, increased connections and fundraising activities.


Social Entrepreneurship in CEE

  • CEE is a region rich with talent and a growing number of locally-rooted and globally-relevant social ventures
  • The lack of specialist business development services such as incubators, mentoring, training schemes, and investment readiness support, has been identified as one of the biggest barriers to the development of social entrepreneurship, especially in CEE. (A map of social enterprises and their eco-systems in Europe, EU, December 2014)
  • More than 75% of the annual budgets of incubators and other social entrepreneur development organisations operating in CEE, are donor-imposed and must be used for specific purposes (From Seed to Impact, GSEN, June 2015)
  • CEE is a region critically lacking the right level and type of resources: experts say that only 35% of European resources for social enterprises are spent in CEE and venture philanthropy investment is 65 times lower in CEE than in Western Europe. (European Venture Philanthropy and Social Investment 2013/2014, The EVPA Survey.

GSEN in the CEE region

With GSEN members working in CEE and other key stakeholders we are designing and delivering activities to broaden and strengthen the early stage social entrepreneur support ecosystem in CEE.

We will facilitate the sharing of skills, resources, support models, knowledge, learning and peer to peer support. With this work, we aim to increase the level of resources, models and quality of support available for social entrepreneurs, so that they can address the most challenging social issues in their communities.

Our partners and keystake holders in CEE:

Babele (Romania), BCause (Bulgaria), CREATE Foundation (Kosovo), Europe Institute (Lithuania), Mladiinfo (Macedonia), Reach For Change (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), Smart Kolektiv (Serbia), Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation (Bulgaria), Yunus Social Business (Balkans).

Learning Opportunities

GSEN aims to support and create possibilities for learning among peers and experts in order to best address the most pressing challenges social entrepreneurs face in CEE. Here are our two main learning formats;

1. Learning workshop

We host regional meetings which gather organisations supporting social entrepreneurs to tackle local issues, common challenges and share innovations. Six regional meetings in CEE/Russia have been organised so far, in: Warsaw, Belgrade, Vienna, Skopje, Oslo and Zagreb. These events combine two formats: “Learning workshops” which serve as platform to tackle common challenges and share innovations, or “CEE meetings” where different members meet to share and exchange best practices on current/future activities and projects. During such learning events, participants dig deeper into programme specifics, reflect on successes and failures, share expertise and provide peer support sessions where they brainstorm on concrete cases to support one-another.

The first learning workshop took place in Skopje in October 2017 as an important fringe event of the international Social Innovators Conference. On 3 & 4 October , GSEN members and partners from the CEE region focused on support of early stage Social Entrepreneurs, pragmatic and practitioner-based best practice sharing and dived deeper into the work we do in the CEE region. The event was attended by 28 people from 15 different countries from the region.

The second GSEN learning shop will take place in Belgrade, Serbia on 17 May 2018 with focus on Investment Readiness and Scaling. 

More information and registration here

2. Virtual CEE Working Group

We also learn by sharing and working online. Community calls and webinars are good ways to share successful projects, share learnings from activities and discuss ongoing development issues in an interactive and time effective manner. Such calls provide a platform for strengthening peer-to-peer learning, alignment of strategies, but more importantly for collective work aimed at creating regionally relevant resources that serve all members in CEE region (e.g.: templates, guides, database of research or fundraising opportunities, etc.).

Example of resource: Top 6 reports on social entrepreneurship in CEE

  1. Social Enterprise Ecosystems in Croatia and the Western Balkans: A Mapping Study of Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia
  2. VP/SI in Central Eastern Europe – Case Studies
  3. Building the Social Investment Industry in Central and Eastern Europe: The Case of Romania
  4. Country Reports 2016 & SEFORÏS Cross-Country Report 2016
  5. A map of social enterprises and their eco-systems in Europe – Country Reports & Synthesis Report
  6. Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe: Challenges and Opportunities


CEE Social Investment Task Force

Given their experience and pioneering initiatives to build the social enterprise sector in CEE, a small group of key stakeholders – EVPANESsTYunus Social Business, the European Commission and GSEN – decided to join efforts and work together to solve these critical issues in the region.  The idea was to form and lead a region-wide Task Force of key players that would work together in the next five years to build a social investment movement to foster more of an appropriate capital for social enterprises, while also preparing more and higher impact social enterprises to receive these investments. The Task Force is connected to the global movement on social impact investing, and join the many other countries around the globe that are working to build the sector, sharing best practices and accelerating its impact.

Ambitions of the initiative:

  • To develop the ecosystem for social investment in Central and Eastern Europe.
  • To attract more and better adapted resources for early-stage social enterprises.
  • To showcase social investment examples from Central and Eastern Europe.
  • To position CEE in the global movement to develop and grow the social impact investing sector.

Click here for more information on the CEE Social Investment Task Force

Increased Connections and Networking

The CEE region is known for being fragmented and lacking regional networking and collaboration opportunities.

In 2017, several international events are taking place in the CEE region or providing occasions for organisations from CEE to meet with peers or key stakeholders. Either as hosts or as participants we support the development of a culture of collaboration and enhanced connectivity among regional members, potential members, partners and other important stakeholders.

Examples of events:


If you are interested to know more about this project please email Peter Ptashko or Bistra Kumbaroska. We are looking forward to hearing from you!





This work is made possible thanks to the generous support of C. S. Mott.Foundation.