With a focus on the discussion regarding the development of social entrepreneurship and the enhancement of employment of vulnerable groups in the cross-border area of Greece-Bulgaria, was held today the online event that presented the results of the SOSEDEE project. In the discussion, entitled “Supporting social entrepreneurship in the cross-border area of Greece – Bulgaria”. At the event participated the project partners, the Municipality of Gotse Delchev in Bulgaria, the SOS Children's Villages Greece, the Department of Management Science and Technology of the International University of Greece, the Joint Secretariat Interreg V-A "Greece-Bulgaria 2014-2020" Cooperation Program, the representatives of the social enterprises created within the program, as well as representatives of institutions related to the subject.

Welcoming the participants at the event, Ms Galena Veleva, the Project Coordinator from the Municipality of Gotse Delchev, presented the main activities and referring to the Social Enterprise created in Bulgaria, accentuated “The social enterprise “Color City” was created with a focus on the professional and personal development of people who have been isolated from the labor market for a long time, such as the long-term unemployed, people living in special institutions, people with disabilities, etc. It managed to substantially support them in overcoming the social challenges they face, helping them to acquire know-how and build new work habits.”

Mr George Theriou Associate Professor at the Management Science and Technology Department of International Hellenic University (IHU), pointed out “At the International University of Greece, what we would like to achieve is, immediately, to include part of the SOSEDEE educational program in the Lifelong Learning Programs that we implement. At the same time, we consider it important to develop in the future a business game, which can combine all the training material and through a gamification process to enhance the learning outcomes.”

From the side of the SOS Children's Villages Greece, Ms Popi Gliva, Emergency Response Program Manager, noted: “In the cross-border area Greece-Bulgaria are recorded particularly high rates of long-term unemployment and low rates of economic growth. We believe that social entrepreneurship is an important tool, as it can address these problems through business. Already, the two social enterprises created by people trained in the project, have created 19 job opportunities in Alexandroupolis and Gotse Delchev.”

Closing the event Mr Periklis Poseidonos, Project Officer of the Joint Secretariat Interreg V-A “Greece-Bulgaria 2014-2020”, noted “The Cooperation Programme INTERREG V-A "Greece-Bulgaria 2014-2020" aims to address cross-border needs and common challenges for the two neighboring countries. Its total budget is 130,262,835.00 €. Currently, sixty-eight (68) projects are being implemented with the aim of promoting smart, sustainable and inclusive development in the cross-border area. This number is expected to increase further in the near future. The list of beneficiaries of the Program includes Ministries, Regional and Prefectural Administrations, Municipalities, Universities and Research Institutes, Chambers, Hospitals and healthcare institutions as well as private organisations from the civil society.

In the framework of the project, a number of tools were developed such as the first distance education program on Social Entrepreneurship, as well as two (2) the “Actoida” in Alexandroupolis, which was created with the aim of enhancing the employment of people with disabilities and the “Color City” in Gotse Delchev, with the aim to employ people from vulnerable groups and operate the greenhouse created under the project. The two enterprises acted as pilots for the implementation of the support and guidance tools, while the innovative training program contributed decisively to their development by offering them valuable skills and knowledge. Also, the two social enterprises were supported by the SOS Children's Villages Greece and the Municipality of Gotse Delchev, receiving support for their establishment procedures, the creation of a business plan and marketing plan as well as continuous ongoing guidance.

At the online event also participated representatives of similar projects that aim at strengthening social entrepreneurship, the Agri-ability and the SocialForces projects, contributing significantly to the discussion on the enhancement of employment of vulnerable groups through social entrepreneurship in the cross - border region.

The presentations of teh event are available here.

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