Ashoka Romania Impact Report 2019
Ashoka Romania has arrived at its third yearly finish line as part of the largest global network of social innovators, and, since the 23rd of July 2019, its first year of existence as a legal entity, consolidating our presence in the local ecosystem of social entrepreneurship. This report aims to be a reflection on our work in 2019, narrating our activities and their outcomes, evaluating and rewriting our strategy, action plans and overall impact of Ashoka Romania as we grow our organization.
Social Entrepreneurship in Romania
Ashoka has officially opened an office in Romania on May 18th, 2017, almost 28 years after the 1989 revolution. As elsewhere in Europe, Romanian social entrepreneurs can and must be enabled to tackle the country’s most pressing issues. Social Entrepreneurship and Social Economy in Romania are relatively new concepts. Social services and civil society interests have been represented in Romania mainly, but not only, by associations and foundations carrying out entrepreneurial activities, mutual aid associations, cooperatives pursuing general interest aims, or NGOs. Their historical path after the 1989 revolution and the new societal needs and organization have paved the way to today’s social entrepreneurship emerging reality in Romania.
NGOs have evolved in the last 30 years of democracy, from advocacy for human rights in the 90s to education, culture, and welfare service provision (Erste Foundation, 2017). The Romanian NGO sector has constantly been developing in Romania. Today, the non-profit sector contributes 1.59% to the GDP of the country and employs over 100.000 people, as evidenced by the Civil Society Development Foundation (CSDF). The social/charitable field is the main component of the sector, both in terms of the number of organizations and main economic and financial indicators (CSDF, 2017). This field is the largest employer in the NGO sector: 30% of all NGO employees work in this subsector (CSDF, 2017).
In 2015 it was estimated that 6.000 social enterprises operate in Romania, totaling a number of 19.065 employees in the sector. However, after the introduction of the Law on Social Economy in 2015, only 103 social enterprises were included by the National Registry of Social Enterprises, mostly due to the bureaucratic registration process and lack of fiscal incentives.
However, there is a proven gradual increase in general activities pursuing explicit social purposes and multistakeholder governance models. Supported by and enlarging ecosystems formed by the government, research and education institutions, social enterprise networks and coalitions, media outlets and communities, social entrepreneurs will be able to further develop and enter into their next stage of maturity
Ashoka Romania Enabling Systemic Change
For the next years, taking into consideration the continuous feedback loops and actively listening to our constituencies, our strategy will shift towards three main strategic external directions and one internal.
1. Establish a balance between social impact and profit by promoting new values and indicators in the checks and balances systems.
2. Form Core Groups of Change collaborations to promote collective impact as a norm within the civil sector.
3. Create strategic and in-depth knowledge transfer programs to sustain the development of new solutions, projects and interventions in the civil sector and get involved in the process of systemically revolutionizing products, markets, and ultimately, systems.
We aim to have a strong, open, and healthy workplace based on a framework of empathy, teamwork, new leadership, changemaking and organizing in an open and fluid teamof-teams. We intend to introduce new ways of organizational development and focus on immediately consolidating and increasing efficiency in our operations and administration activities, while strengthening our fundraising capacity. Moreover, bridging teams-of-teams between Ashoka and Romanian Fellows and their organizations will increase the level of cooperation and impact in activities.
Perspectives and Impact Study
We are firmly convinced that to improve our work in Romania, we need to listen to our stakeholders: Fellows, partners, social entrepreneurs and changemakers. That is why, after almost three years in Romania, we conducted semi-structured interviews for qualitative data, complemented by an online targeted survey for quantitative data between February and March 2020. The survey addressed to various stakeholders included three kinds of questions: open questions, on a scale from 1 to 10, and Likert Scale questions. The in-depth semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with selected partners, Fellows, and changemakers. The criteria used to select interviewees implied their level of involvement with Ashoka, the types of activities they participated in, as well as their knowledge of Ashoka operations. The final results are presented from a sample size of 27 respondents and 11 in-depth qualitative interviews.