Accelerating access to finance 

2020 opened a decisive decade for the future of Romania, Europe and the whole planet. We can deal with new and old threats such as climate change and growing inequalities only with communities in which everyone feels empowered enough to solve personal and social problems, in which cross sectoral collaboration is the envisaged and possible way to reach the good of all. Ashoka Romania is committed to create a society in which everyone can contribute. For doing so, in Romania we are constantly supporting social entrepreneurs, crucial actors for what we call a changemakers' society.

Social entrepreneurs need a healthy social finance ecosystem. This means a financial and a public sector that can allocate money where social value is, via adequate monetary and financial tools and instruments.

Ashoka aims to support the construction of a healthy social finance ecosystem that will allow in the medium-long term to erase the problem of access to finance for current or potential social entrepreneurs.

Since 2018, we have been implementing an ecosystem building program on social finance which comprised so far of international events (i.e. workshops, trainings, roundtables) with the presence of international leaders in the field such as

  • Mark Cheng, member of Ashoka Leadership Group, who has helped raise over $200mn for more than 60 pioneering social enterprises around the world,
  • Mrs. Silke Horakova, social impact investor &co-owner of Albatros Media, the largest publishing house in the Czech Republic,
  • Marcus Freiburg, Managing Director of the Financing Agency for Social Entrepreneurship (FASE)
  • Rares Pamfil, proposition lead for Impact Agora, an institutional marketplace for early-stage impact ventures and funds, sponsored by Barclays. At those events we invited both investors and SEs.

The Romanian Context

The Romanian ecosystem of social enterprises(SEs)and social economy is at the early stage of its development. This stage is proved by 3 essential elements:

 

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Legal Framework

The recent legal framework, established with the law 219/2015, which establishes a clear distinction between SEs and social insertion enterprises and recognizes an already existing sector composed mostly by associations and foundations (more than cooperatives or hybrid models) with social aims and democratic governance.

Framework Change

Availability of data

The lack of exhaustive data on social enterprises: net difference in terms of numbers between de fapto SEs - a maximum of 6,000 using the EU definition of SEs (DG employment, 2019)- and recognised SEs, just 103 officially registered in the National Registry of Social Enterprise established by 2015 law on Social Economy. It is estimated that over 15,000+ new accredited social entrepreneurs and 1,500+ social enterprises will be created in 2020-2021 and supported for a period of 12 to 18 months by EU funds, again with no strategy for supporting their scale up and no bridge financial instruments to ensure their sustainability.

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Constraining identity & diversity

The public debate, despite 2015 law, is still somewhat narrowed to labour inclusion of vulnerable groups at the national policy level but dynamic and in transformation at the grassroots. The full potential of social enterprises as highlighted by the Social Business Initiative (SBI) policy framework remains unharnessed, save for projects that emphasise Workers Inclusion Social Enterprises (WISEs)(DG Employment, 2019).

Social Enterprises

We will deliver an investment readiness program for 20 SEs – with international knowledge transfer from Bridge for Billions platform (Spain), a successful incubator co-founded by Ashoka Fellow Pablo Santaeufemia.  

Support organisations

We will be delivering an empowering program for 10 support organizations’ members with international knowledge transfer from Ashoka’s international Social Finance Team

Potential public and private investors

We will be delivering a social investment program for 15 representatives of potential public and private investors– with international knowledge transfer and exchange of best practices from other countries. 

Public institutions(public authorities, universities)

We will be facilitating an exchange of good practices with international input for 15 representatives of Romanian institutions – with knowledge transfer from the Barcelona City Council

 

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The Entrepreneurs

Out of almost 60 applications, we have selected a community of entrepreneurs that will firstly be part of the Bridge for Billions incubation program, where they will be connected to experts and resources to get their venture to the next level. 

The Romanian Mentors

To support the entrepeneurs in their transformational journey we brought aboard outstanding and experienced mentors that will leverage their expertise in accelerating the entrepreneurs' impact and sustainability. Each entrepreneur engages with 2 mentors, one Romanian, aware of the socio-economic context of the country, and one global mentor, provided by Bridge for Billions platform, who can offer international best practices and together diversify the perspectives brought to the entrepreneurs' models.