This time we examine social innovation in Slovenia and where it stands. Prior to it, it’s worth mentioning that Slovenia is a small country on the sunny side of the Alps, once part of communist Yugoslavia. The country has two million people. Similarly to other modern societies, the country has been facing demographic issues such as ageing, and low birth rate.
The foundation for social innovation has always been present in Slovenia, although we have so far not witnessed any extensive projects at the national level. The field of social innovation in Slovenia is largely under-developed and there is a lack of a supporting environment for social innovators. There is also no overview or historical research on social innovation in Slovenia.
Although Slovenia is small, several social innovation projects have been launched in the country in the last decade. The majority of them have come as a result of individual entrepreneurial initiatives within more innovative organisations.
However, we can now notice the increasing popularity of social innovation. The most visible evidence is the number of responses submitted to different calls and tenders for funding from public sources (national and local). Public authorities are supporting social innovation by often listing it as a key selection criterion in such calls.
What are the main social challenges Slovenia is facing these days?
The social innovation projects solve a range of problems in Slovenia. Some of them are:
- long-term unemployment;
- youth unemployment;
- poverty and social inequalities;
- inclusion of marginalised groups such as Roma;
- need for technological social innovations;
- aging population;
- deterioration of human health and environment;
- strive for a fair and ethical society, etc.
What are examples of social innovation in Slovenia?
1. Nefiksom (booklet or e-version) – leading tool for recording informal knowledge.
The mission of the Institute Nefiks is to help people in youth organisations in recording, presenting and promoting non-formal knowledge and competences, as well as helping youth in career development and job seeking. Their vision is that informal acquired knowledge in youth employment becomes equivalent to formal, which is possible with index Nefiksom.
Nefiks is a project that has been promoting the values of volunteering and non-formal education in Slovenia for over 10 years. It has been doing so by motivating young people to educate themselves in different fields and persuading employers to consider non-formal education as a reference when offering a job.
Nefiks expands the possibility of young peoples’ employment and social inclusion, especially for those “left behind”, with its supplementary activities such as workshops, stakeholder meetings, system of peer advising and public promotion.
In its years of existence, Nefiks significantly raised the meaning of recognition of non-formally acquired skills, and that’s why many institutions strongly support it. Nefiks comes in two shapes, electronic portfolio and a booklet. More information
2. Fruits of Society and programs of intergenerational community centers houses
Fruits of Society are successful projects of Slovene Philanthropy which have for several years now productively promoted intergenerational volunteer cooperation. For the purposes of increasing cooperation and fighting prejudice among generations, Fruits of Society has since 2006 been linking together schools, pensioners’ societies and other similar organizations and supporting the exchange of knowledge between the younger and older generation.
The first intergenerational community centre, the House Fruits of Society Murska Sobota is being complemented with another centre, the House Fruits of Society Vipava. The houses build bridges between generations by transferring knowledge and activities that promote intergenerational cooperation. A new humanitarian program named Volunteer Service has been launched in Murska Sobota that enables volunteers to provide free volunteer aid to those who have difficulty securing it for themselves: the socially endangered, elderly, ill and disabled. More information
Buna was created to encourage people to begin repeatedly questioning where the products and services they are buying come from, how they were made and how their price is structured. The thing we wish to buy in itself often represents just one element of the final product and accordingly represents a small fraction within the price we pay for it. Share of raw coffee price in the total price of coffee is a prime example. Since we often like to re-affirm our existing consumption patterns and everyday comfort we are usually not prepared to try out and choose alternative products, even though they could mean a better long-term choice for the environment, the producers and us. The projects run within Buna cooperative address these challenges. More information
Most of the support for social innovation in Slovenia is provided by third sector organisations, such as:
The Fund 05 is a private foundation whose aim is to provide impact investment and other support to different social ventures, social entrepreneurs and innovators.
The Social Innovators of the Future is a program of Društvo mladinski ceh (Youth Guild Association), which supports young social innovators and entrepreneurs with incubator and accelerator programs, educational programs and infrastructure.
Social innovations in Slovenia complement business innovations and are focused primarily on achieving social welfare. In the reflection of the current global events, they have become increasingly important since they represent an alternative to the existing ways of combating the crisis. At the same time, they offer long-term solutions to modern day problems and offer new opportunities for growth.
Would you like to become a successful social innovator yourself? We can help you!
To tackle this issue We4You in Slovenia and 4 other partners from acrosss Europe have recently started a project aiming to develop the Social Innovation Academy. The Social Innovation Academy will be the first fully online management training programme focusing exclusively on social innovation. Why Social Innovation Academy? Social Innovation has been increasingly perceived as the answer to the rising number of European societal challenges. While the European authorities, leading academics, policy experts, business people and activists agree that social innovation is the key to better future for Europe and the world, it is extremely difficult for professionals to obtain high quality training on what social innovation actually offers and, more importantly, how it can be done in practice. Social Innovation Academy will aim to change this situation in Europe and beyond. If you are interested in keeping up with this project, you can subscribe to our newsletter, become one of our Friends, apply to join our Global Advisory Board or follow us on social media (LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook). We welcome all requests for collaboration here.