The President of Latvia Egils Levits opens a conference on co-operation between local municipalities and social enterprises

Photo by I.Znotins

The online conference about the cooperation between local municipalities and social enterprises was opened by the President of Latvia – Egils Levits who emphasised the importance of the collaboration to the whole society. 

“Several years ago the concept of social entrepreneurship was unfamiliar to many, now we can say that the topicality of social entrepreneurship in Latvia is growing. It is becoming well-known both in society as a whole and in local municipalities and state institutions. This trend is positive for society as a whole and for social entrepreneurship in particular.

The topic of today’s conference is the cooperation of local municipalities with social entrepreneurs. The central question is why we need it, not as few years ago – whether we need it. This is already a milestone. I hope that today’s event will encourage to follow the good examples and results achieved by local municipalities and social entrepreneurs throughout Latvia. We have many such examples.

Social enterprises make a significant contribution to the local community, parish, small town, city – and thus to the whole state, and local municipalities often could not perform these tasks on their own or could not perform them so well. I would like to point out that more than half of all social enterprises are located outside Riga and produce goods directly for the local community. Therefore, I believe that social entrepreneurship must be adopted as an effective tool for solving various problems in the municipality, involving those entrepreneurs who represent the private sector can create a more appropriate framework for creating and testing various innovations. In addition to social entrepreneurship, there is also the personal story and experience of the entrepreneur, which has most often created motivation to help society in this way.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when the daily lives of a large part of the society are limited, I would like to highlight those social entrepreneurs who have tried to help and make our daily lives simpler and more fulfilling in this difficult time. For example, the social project “Let’s talk?” Created by the social company “Sonido” enables people to speak, be heard and not feel lonely. It is extremely necessary especially when older people are more isolated than others during COVID-19 pandemic. The social enterprise “Pusaudžu resursu centrs” helps the adolescent to prevent risks and realize their potential in the specific life situation. The social enterprise “Laboratorium” has fully digitized its offer for exact science education for students online. The social enterprise “Visi var” successfully and in the long run cooperates with the Sigulda municipality, improving and transforming the field of social services, as well as improving employment for special target groups. In Valmiera, a social enterprise “Mans Peldkostīms” is producing individual swimsuits from fabric made of recycled plastic. During the pandemic, this company has focused on sewing masks from the same fabric.

There are many such examples, but I believe that cooperation between municipalities and social entrepreneurs could be further developed.

I would like to thank those municipalities that have already started to be proactive in supporting social entrepreneurship. On the other hand, I call on those municipalities where this type of business has not yet been discovered to take an active interest, identify and support its formation. We all need to build a local support system and a collaborative society, because long-term results in tackling a variety of challenges can only be achieved by working together.

Thank you to the Social Entrepreneurship Association of Latvia for their tireless work, bringing up such an important topic for everyone! I would like to congratulate Regita Zeila, the director of the association, on taking up this position last December. I wish you good luck and success in your work!

In conclusion, I would like to wish the conference participants a successful and fulfilling day, many new ideas and to strengthen my will and motivation to work in this field for the benefit of us all.” 

 

The online conference “Why we need it?” about the co-operation between local municipalities and social enterprises was held on the 19th of February and was organised by Social Entrepreneurship Association of Latvia in collaboration with British Council.