Securing the Future of Social Enterprises in Central and Eastern Europe: Balancing Social Mission and Economic Viability admin November 22, 2023
Securing the Future of Social Enterprises in Central and Eastern Europe: Balancing Social Mission and Economic Viability

By Jorge Gimeno Pawlowski

In Central and Eastern Europe, social enterprises are emerging as key players in addressing social challenges with entrepreneurial solutions. Based on Daniela Staicu’s research from The Bucharest University of Economic Studies, I want to explore the financial sustainability of these enterprises, focusing on their revenue sources and the imperative for income diversification.

The Revenue Stream Landscape

The financial landscape for social enterprises across Central and Eastern Europe is varied. In Hungary, for example, public funds make up 42% of social enterprise revenues, with trading activities accounting for 51.2%. In Poland, a substantial portion of social enterprise revenue comes from public sector funding, with public contracting and grants/subsidies comprising 65% and 23%, respectively, alongside a significant contribution from economic activity (36%).

In contrast, the Czech Republic and Romania see a dominance of private funds in social enterprise income, constituting 51.2% and 57%, respectively. This diversity highlights the different economic and regulatory environments in these countries.

Challenges and Opportunities

The reliance on public funds varies significantly, underscoring the need for adaptation to national contexts. Over-dependence on public funding poses risks, particularly in times of political and economic shifts. Therefore, diversifying income sources is essential for resilience.

Strategies for Financial Diversification

Expanding market-based activities is crucial for increasing self-generated income, thereby reducing reliance on external funding. Forming partnerships with the private sector can introduce new revenue channels, including corporate sponsorships and service contracts. Innovative financing options like social impact bonds, crowdfunding, or microfinance offer alternative sources of revenue that align with the social missions of these enterprises. Additionally, mobilizing community resources, such as volunteer work and in-kind donations, can supplement financial resources while strengthening community engagement.

Financial sustainability for social enterprises in Central and Eastern Europe hinges on balancing their social mission with economic viability. Diversifying income streams and adapting to local market conditions and regulatory frameworks are key. By embracing a multifaceted approach to funding and financial strategies, these enterprises can build the resilience necessary to continue their significant contributions to society.

Staicu, Daniela. (2018). Financial sustainability of social enterprise in Central and Eastern Europe. Proceedings of the International Conference on Business Excellence. 12. 907-917. 10.2478/picbe-2018-0081.

Spanish version.
Polish version.

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