Conference : Legal Framework for Financial Sustainability of Non-Profit Organizations, Almaty, Kazakhstan on 4 and 5 December 2017
The conference opened with a plenary session on updates on legislation relating to CSO financial sustainability, followed by individual workshops on a number of topics including:
Alissa was invited by ICNL to co-host two workshops on December 5th on social enterprises. The workshop was co-organized by Asel Kubanychbekova, the executive director of the Association of Social Entrepreneurs in Kyrgyzstan. The workshop was divided into 6 parts:
Alissa opened the workshop with a brief discussion on the general definition of a social enterprise, and more specifically in Europe. She then presented the recent developments in Europe concerning the law around social enterprises as well as some examples of legal forms and statuses (France, UK, etc.). Alissa also briefly discussed the Parliament’s proposition for a European social enterprise label, as well as the challenges faced by the European Union in trying to map social enterprises in the 28 different member states.
Ms. Kubanychbekova followed with a brief introduction on the development of social enterprises in Newly Independent States (« NIS ») such as Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, as well as Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. She also presented some examples of social enterprises, the social and environmental impact of the projects and the different challenges encountered by social enterprises today – as well as practical solutions.
After the presentation, the audience and panellists debated what type of activities could be considered as ‘social enterprise’ activities as opposed to ‘CSR initiatives’ by for-profit companies. The participants seemed hesitant as to how a for-profit company could become a ‘social enterprise’. Twenty people from six different NIS countries attended both workshops.
Several government representatives attended the conference such as Deputy Meruert Kazbekova, secretary of the Committee for Economic Reform and Regional Development in the Majilis, Kazakhstan, and the Vice Minister of Religious Affairs and Civil Society (MRACS) for Kazakhstan. Other speakers and panellists included Mariya Heletiy, Deputy Project Director, Ukrainian Centre for Independent Political Research. Natalia Bourjaily, Vice President-Eurasia, International Center for Not-for-Profit-Law (ICNL), Paul Bonwich, director of the ICNL Representative Office in Kazakhstan, Ruslan Kraplich, Director, Princes-Benefactors Ostrozkiy Foundation, Ukraine, Anna Tadjimuratova, Director of internet crowdfunding platform baribirge.kz, Natalya Yantsen, CSO Tax Culture Development, Kazakhstan, Olga Smolyanko, Director, Legal Transformation Center, and Agu Laius, Executive Director of National Foundation of Civil Society, Estonia.
The conference concluded with final remarks from Balazs Sator, Commercial Director, Randomex, Finland. Mr. Sator reflected on inspiring ideas and experiences participants and panellists shared during the group workshops. He also led an engaging and thought provoking exercise, trying to show that there is much more to share, learn and get inspired by before one can respond: “it won’t work in my country”. Peer support, sharing good practices, income generation innovations were key talking points Mr Sator covered during the final session.
Alissa Pelatan is on the board of the European Social Enterprise Law Association and has been working in the social enterprise sector for the past 12 years. She started a non-profit in the US, a boutique law firm in Paris, France and teaches courses on Social Enterprise law and European law at two universities in France.