The Hungarian Presidency considers the cooperation with NGOs essential, Minister of State of the Foreign Ministry, Eniko Gyori i said in her welcoming speech, on 3 June 2011 in Budapest, on Social Enterprise Day.
Essentially, social enterprise is a business activity of a non-profit organisation, aiming for raising funds for its social mission. The purpose of the meeting, which was held by NESsT (Nonprofit Enterprise and Self-sustainability Team), an international non-profit organisation, was to call attention to the potentials of social enterprises, and to provide a status report on the successes and opportunities of this sector in Hungary. The participants also had a chance to view the Exhibition of Social Enterprises, where they could learn about the products and services of domestic and regional social enterprises. Lee Davis, the cofounder and chief executive officer of NESsT was also present. Since the end of the 1990s, NESsT has been providing solutions through the support and development of social enterprises that improve the financial sustainability of non-profit organisations and increase their social impact, for the most important social challenges of emerging market economies.
To see the opportunity in every difficulty
“I am really glad that we have organised this event (in Hungary), for the first time during the term of our Presidency of the European Union,” Eniko Gyori said in her welcoming speech. The Minister of State acknowledged with satisfaction, that the Presidency has managed to bring social enterprises into the spotlight, “In this semester, the whole of Europe is watching us; and it is also a result of your efforts that in the field of social changes, we can be among the first to create a tradition by organising this professional forum and exhibition."
The Minister of State reminded that social enterprises waive part of the profit in order to accomplish their aims and remedy important social challenges on a daily basis. They create job opportunities, more acceptable living conditions, affordable but high quality services, and a wide social acceptance for disadvantaged people, she added. “They see the opportunity in every difficult situation,” Ms Gyori said, praising the efforts of people who work for noble objectives. She also pointed out that social enterprises have always been operating in Hungary, like the Abbey of Pannonhalma, which has been an example of success, as it is an enterprise that has a social impact for over one thousand years.
A common mindset
Referring to the Hungarian Presidency’s motto “Strong Europe with a human touch”, Ms Gyori said that a strong Europe assumes strong currency, institutions, policies and Member States. “However, Europe may only be really strong through its citizens. Therefore, the Hungarian Presidency considers the cooperation with NGOs essential,” Ms Gyori added. The Presidency and NGOs share the same mindset and objectives, “To live in a Europe, which listens to its citizens, supports value-creating work, and respects solidarity as a fundamental value.”
According to Ms Gyori, there are many ways to define the European Union, but most of all it is a community of values, “Without it, it would be impossible to keep Member States, the diverse communities and their people together.” This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that the European Commission’s recently published Single Market Act mentions the development of social enterprises as one of the 12 main priorities. “The Commission will soon submit a proposal for a pan-European framework that would open up opportunities in the single market for them. This would increase the financial support opportunities available for the development of social enterprises,” stressed the Hungarian Minister of State.
The increase of competitiveness is essential for Europe, and with Hungary in it, this would aid the recovery from the crisis, said Eniko Gyori. “But competitiveness must not be an exclusive organising principle. Competition must go together with cooperation and where necessary, sympathy,” the Minister of State said, highlighting that solidarity with losers, is an important feature of European civilization. “Cooperation, generosity and solidarity are signs of strength, rather than weakness. They are not sources of helplessness, but rather that of creativity,” Eniko Gyori pointed out, in her welcoming speech in Budapest, on Social Enterprise Day.