Not every NGO has to become a social enterprise in order to reach its mission.

When I came to North Macedonia for the EU-funded project on Social Entrepreneurship on the last day of August in 2020 I was pumped. I was pumped about making a change and enlighten local activists and social entrepreneurs. After all, we all want to be sustainable and strong, aren’t we?

Soon after arrival, I started to question myself. Is this really what locals need now? Imagine you are asked to break a wall with your bare head. What would you do? Imagine we as consultants are being told to tell you to hit the wall with your bare head. What would you do?

I have been meeting online and offline dozens of Macedonian NGOs. Most of them have been aware of social entrepreneurship but did no really had a pressure to become one or incentives that would make sense for them to do so. After all, if you get a grant why would you need to worry about developing your service or product, investing in the capacities of your staff, buying some production equipment (if necessary), starting to look for customers, competing with public and private companies as well as NGOs that sell the same stuff but are backed wither by governmental connections, private investments or donor’s funding. All of this sounds like a stupid idea. At the end of the day, you have to invest more into reaching your social mission and doing some impact than any other of your competitors out there. However, nearly 10 percent of the economy in the European Union belongs to the social economy. Do you think they are as stupid as you as well? Don’t you see the room for potential and action?

Finding your place in this mess may look like an impossible idea. But think long term. Imagine one day there will be no grants. What will you do? Social enterprise can give you wings.

So here comes our project. Despite 0 incentives and support from the government today, we want you to think about becoming a social enterprise tomorrow. We want to give you a helmet so that hitting the wall is less painful.

We want to provide you with the necessary skills, information, and connections that can make you better, faster, more professional, and more competitive. We want to give you nonreturnable startup capital of up to 30.000 EUR (separate grant from the EU Del) for your product development. We want to show you that there is life beyond being reliant on grants only as well.

Imagine you can make money and help destitute people every day, by providing them with work integration solutions, jobs, food, shelter on a rolling and sustainable basis. This is how we see it. Being a social entrepreneur is not easy, but it is very rewarding!

It’s up to you what will be your choice at the end of the day but getting enrolled in our training program, assistance, and grant scheme will not hurt for sure. Even if you will not use the opportunities we will still respect your choice.

After all, not everyone can be a social enterprise. But at least, you may try to become one! Will you try?

by Mindaugas Danys, Capacity Development Expert