The Institute of Leadership and Management of the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) and the Social Innovation Network of Berlin, Germany, organized a discussion “From Global to Local” as part of the institute’s instructional module “From an idea to a social business in 90 days.”

The moderator of the discussion was Oksana Kushniretska, coordinator of UCU’s Master’s Program in Non-Profit Management. Among the speakers was Mykhailo Melnyk, who holds a doctorate in social sciences from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome and is founder of the Ukrainian Social Academy.

A translation of excerpts from the discussion follows:

Kushniretska: With what juridical status do social enterprises now function? How are they different from businesses and how do they overlap?

Melnyk: Social enterprise is for Ukraine a new sector of economics which unites business and charitable activity. In the social arena, social enterprise first of all strives to achieve social goals. Secondly, profit from activities does not go to the owner or investor, but is invested back in the development of the enterprise itself. Thirdly, social enterprise declares transparency of activities and periodic reporting. The main criteria which differentiate social enterprises are: social influence, financial durability, and innovation. They are differentiated from charity in that the majority of expenses are supported by the sale of goods and services, while the latter is supported by grants and investments.

In Ukraine, social enterprise has only started, but this is happening very actively. But for now there is no platform in which social enterprises can exchange information. So, at present, communication is based on some informal contacts. Also, social enterprises operate according to various arrangements. They can be civic organizations, registered as such, or charitable foundations with the addition of certain entrepreneurial activities. This does not allow one to determine precise criteria for social enterprises in Ukraine and say exactly what is a social enterprise and what isn’t…

Still, today certain steretypes exist among the population about social enterprises: people think they are charities and not businesses. So it’s necessary to share the stories of successful projects that show a different picture. For example, Pizza Veterano, which integrates soldiers who are returning from the front line and also helps families which have lost a breadwinner in the war.