Social innovation is rather a new concept in Serbia, not widely understood and lacking an accepted definition. Similar to the rest of the region, the country is considered to be lagging behind more developed nations regarding this field. The most pressing social needs currently in Serbia are those concerning the issues of widespread poverty, rising unemployment, regional disparities and social exclusion of vulnerable groups. The situation is hampered further by high rates of corruption and inefficient public administration so the tackling of these issues by traditional approaches seems to be largely ineffective and unsustainable.
Hence it's mostly CSOs that have created initiatives that could be viewed as socially innovative. Yet third sector's prevalent dependency on grants and lack of social investment prevent most of these organizations from advancing the concept. The most noticed aspect of social innovation is the rise of social entrepreneurship, with some 1,600 social enterprises starting up since the concept was introduced a decade ago, addressing social problems through business models.
Public sector effort
The Government of Serbia, the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit, have tested social innovation approach on youth employment (piloted innovative grant scheme) and is currently supporting models for scaling up. For more information please see the following links: