Social Innovation in Slovenia is in its early stages, and remains largely underdeveloped without a supporting environment for social innovators. A number of social innovation projects in Slovenia have been launched in the last decade. The majority of them have come as a result of individual entrepreneurial initiatives within more innovative organisations. The issues addressed by social innovation in Slovenia include long-term and youth unemployment, the inclusion of marginalised groups, the development of sustainable impact tourism and technological social innovation, education and social finances.
Social innovation is time and context specific, which means it can mean different things in different contexts. What might not seem innovative in one country may be ground breaking in another. The political and cultural background is important to understand. There are also a wide variety of organizations involved in this field and each one has different perspectives. So, the purpose of this page is to demonstrate a variety of views on what social innovation means to different kinds of organizations in Slovenia.
The voices from Slovenia:
In 2011, Tadeja Mesojedec from Social Innovators of the Future provided an account of social innovation in Slovenia, outlining the third sector’s current appearance:
“The most common form of NPOs in Slovenia are societies, followed by trade unions, private institutes, religious organizations. In 2008 there were 21,640 (almost 75 % of all NPOs) societies and associations of societies, 209 foundations (1.8%) and 1,744 private institutes (6.1%). In the last decade in Slovenia intense growth of the third sector has been recorded, however the number of organizations is growing faster only in the most developed regions. On the other hand, the real power of third sector is not very significant. Its proportion in GDP, which was 1.92% in 1996, has grown up only to 1.99% in 2008. Also the number of people employed in third sector is relatively low: in 2008 only 0.66% of the working population was employed in third sector. The main fields of third sector's activity are culture, sports and social assistance.”
Social Innovators of the Future is a program run by the Youth Guild Association which looks to support young social innovators and entrepreneurs. The program offers training, incubation and acceleration programs as well as consulting and infrastructure support…[and] specialises in connecting technology and social innovation to create new solutions and products for organisations that are tackling the most pressing societal problems.
Read their full contribution here.
In 2015, Primož Šporar and Kristjan Strojan, from Innovative Social Services Ltd (Brez Dobička) produced an updated summary of social innovation in Slovenia. Their report shows how the changing organisation of the field has influenced the present shape of social innovation in Slovenia:
“Until recently, the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities had been coordinating social entrepreneurship activities. However, this area has now been transferred to the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, where the focus now lies more with entrepreneurship and less with social innovation and inclusion. It is not clear which governmental body will promote social innovation in the future, if any.
Most of the support for social innovation is provided by third sector organisations, such as:
The organisation of the first Slovenian Social Innovation Competition in 2012, which saw over 50 social innovation projects participate, was an important step which promoted SI and placed it on the agenda for the first time. The increasing popularity of social innovation can now be noticed by the number of responses submitted to different calls and tenders for funding from public sources (both national and local) where social innovation is often listed as a key selection criteria. There is however no harmonized methodology for evaluating social innovation projects."
Read the full contribution for further examples of social innovation activity in Slovenia.