In Romania, the social economy includes various forms of organisation, in terms of association, such as cooperatives, mutual societies, associations, foundations, NGOs, etc.
On the legal framework, the Romanian Parliament adopted in June 2015 the Law on Social Economy (no. 219), with the methodology and pointed mechanisms put in place in 2016. The legislation aims to regulate social economy and establishes measures to promote it and support it. Also, the law regulates the conditions of certification by public authorities of the social enterprises and the social enterprises of insertion. The ministry responsible for its implementation is the Ministry of Labour.
According to this legislation, the social economy includes all the activities organized independently from the public sector, with the specific purpose to serve a general or a community interest by increasing employment level of the persons from the vulnerable groups and/or the production and supply of goods and/or services. The social economy is based on voluntary and solidary private initiative, with a high degree of autonomy and responsibility and limited distribution of profits to shareholders.
The law describes several mechanisms necessary to attest the organising forms of social economy (the certified social enterprise and the social mark) and new organisational and institutional structures (social economy compartments). However, these provisions will have a minimal impact on the classic entities of social economy (cooperatives, associations, credit unions, and unions of employees and retirees).
Experts from industry declared that “[…] the Law no. 219/2015 restricts the action area of social economy to the insertion into the labour market of people from vulnerable groups, contrary to the universal meaning of social economy that is seen that an economic activity conducted while respecting various commune criteria. […] The present law orients social economy towards complementary mechanisms of social services that are to be accessed by the members of vulnerable groups. Social economy, from the point of view of the law, leaves behind, almost irreconcilably, the idea of individual activism that effectively combines individual and collective responsibilities.” (Romeo Asiminei, “The law on social economy. From legislative to theoretical framework”, Social Alternatives magazine, 2016).
Therefore, the public framework and legislation in Romania are not entirely correlated with the accepted views on social economy and social entrepreneurship. It becomes clear that more, systematic and consistent approach of education and mentorship in social entrepreneurship is needed, at all levels, in order to generate a significant change in the environment of the Romanian social entrepreneurship.
Some examples of good practices and inspiring social enterprises already in place:
Of the 5,300 libraries and bookstores in Romania, only a few offer disability-friendly technology to meet the needs of approximately 90,000 visually-impaired citizens.
Cartea Călătoare produces audio books in DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) format to allow the visually impaired to enjoy reading at their local libraries just like any other independent person.
The Foundation supports integration into society of the persons with visual impairments and their easier access to information, education, and employment. The organisation’s services offer the necessary support for the persons with visual impairments to be informed in any field and to pursue any type of education.
Started as a European funded project of social economy, the social enterprise MamaPan offers jobs in the bakery to single mothers and to more than two children mothers who are in vulnerable situation, affected by poverty or social and economic exclusion.
The financial gain obtained by selling the bakery products goes to fulfil the social mission of the enterprise – the creation of new jobs. MamaPan social business invests in economic performance, as well in consideration for the employees and clients.
Viitor Plus Association (a social NGO www.viitorplus.ro ) established “Atelierul de pânză” as a protected social economy enterprise, so called “protected unit” (30% of personnel are people with disabilities and has a special authorisation from the Ministry of Labour).
The shop recycles fabrics in order to product personalised bags, pencil cases, covers for books, folders for laptops, etc. created from natural cotton or textile waste that can be adjusted and customised.