EU-supported project underlines social entrepreneurship essential for social inclusion

The conference discussing employment and social integration through development of social entrepreneurship was organised in Teslic, on 26-27 November by the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Banja Luka and project partners, under the EU-financed project ”IN – Implementation of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in BiH”.

Conference was a follow-up to the award of small grants to 22 organizations of persons with disabilities, that implemented their projects from November 2014 until end of April 2015. Since most of the projects were related to production, employment or self-employment, the conference focused on social entrepreneurship as a sustainability model, as well as on exchange of practices, networking and establishment of further cooperation.

Ten best projects were awarded with IT equipment by Jan Snaidauf, Head of political and economic section in the Delegation of the EU in BiH, Dragan Bogdanić, RS Minister of Health and Social Protection, Dalibor Popović from Social – educational Centre Banja Luka, Elvira Bešlija, president of Council for Persons with Disabilities BiH and Mladen Protić, coordinator of Project IN.

Jan Snaidauf emphasised the importance of the Project IN for persons with disabilities. “Beside grants, the project offered more than 500 recommendations for harmonization of BiH legislation with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and developed the Strategy of efficient model of cooperation between organizations of persons with disabilities“. He added that small grants were particularly beneficial showing that much can be done with relatively small amount of money for limited period of time.

The second day featured presentations by Vlatka Vincetić from Autonomous Centre Čakovec from Croatia as a leading example of social entrepreneurship in the region, and Ivana Stančić from Organization SMART Kolektiv, coordinating the SENS network – Network of social economy from Serbia. Fata Ibralić, president of the Organization for Social Inclusion of persons with Intellectual Disabilities from Tuzla Canton presented their social company and challenges faced during establishment. They are currently producing vegetables and have developed network of distributors.

Funded by the European Union, the IN Project is implemented by Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Banja Luka with partner organizations: Organization of amputees “UDAS,” Federation of Associations for help to mentally disabled persons of Republic Srpska, Association of Paraplegics and people affected by polio in Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Association of the Blind of Canton Sarajevo.