The European Economic and Social Committee organised a round table „The role of Cooperative Banks“ in the House of Europe in Zagreb on September 11, with the aim of representing the concepts and models of cooperative ethical banks. New financial perspective and EU strategies for social entrepreneurship were presented by Carlos Trias Pinto from EESC, Fabio Salviato from FEBEA, Katarina Ivanković Knežević from Ministry of labour and pension system and Goran Jeras from ethical bank and Cooperative for ethical financing, with Marina Škrabalo from GONG as moderator.
Carlos Trias Pinto, who has been dealing with credit unions for many years, pointed out that the individual has to be the centre of financial institutions: “Credit unions and banks have to aid the development of individuals and societies as a, whole which includes economic development as well, and it is a myth to say that banking system is efficient if it is concentrated”. He also commented on social entrepreneurship which should be regarded in a broader sense, adding that financial models of social entrepreneurship are focused on financing projects that include elements of social inclusion. “Focusing on social entrepreneurship is the new impulse that drives the EU with the aim of forming stable financial mechanisms that will be more efficient in local risk management”.
Fabio Salviato commented on the micro-crediting model, as a part of tradition of ethical banking which creates solutions to remediate the consequences of the crisis, pointing out the important role of FEBEA in that process. “We have to turn towards new, alternative models of thinking, so the creation of an ethical bank in Croatia is another step on that path. Now is the right time for ethical financial models that are focused on helping others and our aim is to focus on the projects of our children because we want to leave them a better world”, stressed Salviato.
Katarina Knežević Ivanković spoke about the Social Entrepreneurship Development Strategy adopted by decision of the Government six months ago, with particular measures, priorities and goals. “We are heading towards the phase of implementation of legal frameworks, education and connecting individuals, as well as ensuring the financial capital. The Ministry has established the institutional unit for implementing the activities. The strategy has nine criteria for recognizing a social entrepreneur and there will be the Record of social entrepreneurs who will be able to apply for tenders. In the first phase it will not be necessary to be registered in the Record, but the aim is to establish an efficient record based on criteria adopted through the Social Entrepreneurship Development Strategy”, said Ivanković Knežević.
In the first phase of implementation, tenders that have grant schemes will be focused on beginners, redefining and broadening of businesses and additional employment. The next phase will be the strengthening of financial institutions through micro-credit lending, which will ensure sustainability and further development for entrepreneurs.
Goran Jeras briefly introduced the European Social Entrepreneurship Fund that has been established by ZEF, SEFEA, Impact HUB, LEADER network, Tomislav Valičević law office, Mara Ltd. and CEDRA as coordinator. “This fund has all the characteristics that the participants of today`s round table mentioned in their speeches, it is completely harmonized with the Social Entrepreneurship Development Strategy, and it will enable particular investments in projects that have been developed in accordance with the social entrepreneurship model”, concluded Jeras.