„Garden of Sustainable Development“- Caritas Šabac
„Avlija održivog razvoja“- Caritas Šabac
Caritas Sabac from Serbia is one of the winners of business plan competition held within Finance4SocialChange project. Their social enterprise "Garden of Sustainable Development" was awared a 7000 euros prize as an intiative which integrates social protection, agriculture, tourism and hospitality services with aim of full social integration and inclusion of people from socially vulnerable groups, as well as promoting the development of margianalized rural areas. The award is provided by UniCredit, main partner of Finance4SocialChange Project which widely supports social entrepreneurs through its Social Impact Banking initiative ( SIB).
This social enterprise employs 20 people from socially vulnerable groups, including 10 people with disabilities. It is a way to provide services and socialization to people with mental disabilities, have economic contribution but also promote work in underdeveloped rural areas. Together we produce vegetables and fruits, which are used to prepare juices, jams, sweets and homemade brandy. We reconciled the differences, and turned the uniqueness into an opportunity“, says Miroljub Nikolić, director of Caritas Šabac, adding that the prize fund will be used for further business development, purchase of equipment and new investments.
„ It all started when I first visited some foreign countries where I saw examples of people solving economic and environmental issues by creating business models and ideas which would, not only bring profit but bring solutions to community“, explains Nikolić adding that previous experience in numerous humanitarian actions where he was helping people with a short-term actions urged him to think of more sustainable solutions. „Social entrepreneurship was a way to help people and solve problems permanently. I was acting by proverb 'Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime', explains Nikolić.
Since then, Caritas Šabac has been active for more than two decades with clear social goals of supporting socially vulnerable groups and providing licensed social services in the field for more than 500 users. Also, it annually helps about 700-800 people through activities in the field of humanitarian aid and action in emergency situations. Social enterpises „Garden of Sustainable Development“ and „ Social Synergy“ represent most innovative models of social enterprises in Serbia because they combine social protection services and social entrepreneurship through the development of skills and work ability for its users.
Scaling up of the business model through cooperation in F4SC
"Participation in the international business plan competition was a great challenge and validation of our business idea. We have been in close cooperation through trainings and continuous communication with F4SC partners and Chamber of Commerce and Industy of Serbia in order to create a clear and feasible business and investment plan“, says Nikolić, adding that feedback from mentors and investors on the project provided crucial insights in what direction their business should move in order to scale up.