First Year in Review – Creating a Lasting Social Impact in Eastern Europe and Russia

First Year in Review – Creating a Lasting Social Impact in Eastern Europe and Russia
Philip Fong, AFP, Getty Images

When Harold Macmillan was asked what was the most difficult thing about being Prime Minister, he famously answered: “Events, my dear boy, events.” For a project bringing innovation and collaboration on social entrepreneurship to Europe’s east, 2021 was, to put it mildly, an eventful year.  

From the post-conflict Caucasus to tensions in Ukraine and an upheaval in Belarus – and an enduring pandemic – EVPA team and partners mustered incredible flexibility and agility and built a powerful basis for the project to grow over the next four years, creating a lasting social impact well beyond its duration. Here are the highlights from the first year of Collaborate for Impact!

Collaborate for Impact in a Nutshell
Our goals: Development of social entrepreneurship and social investments towards economic and social cohesion in the Eastern Partnership and Russia
Target countries: Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine, Russia, Azerbaijan, Moldova
Project duration: 2020 – 2025

Collaborate for Impact Year 2022

Faced with an assessment of the current situation. Through a number of mapping and data collection studies, we collected qualitative data from 160 social enterprises. This resulted in a series of snapshots offering regional and country-specific insights into the needs of social enterprises.

In the first year of activities, we decided to focus on education and awareness raising, building country-based capacity and knowledge on investor engagement and social investment fund development process.
But we also delivered well targeted and timed financial support. Through Covid-19 Relief Fund in Armenia, 35 social enterprises were able to continue their operations and becoming more resilient in the way they face the future.

The Year in 3 Key Moments
> Regional Launch Event with main social impact investing players
Country Snapshots with key insights on the needs of social entrepreneurs
Covid Emergency Fund with crucial support for the sector in Armenia.

We organised 12 events on social entrepreneurship and social investment with 700+ participants. Three social innovation competitions were organised by our local partners in Ukraine, Armenia and Russia as well as incubation and acceleration programs, seeking innovative business models for the region.

We created learning opportunities for our partners through EVPA Training Academy, bringing them together with over 450 participants of the broader EVPA community – building synergies and a stronger social impact community.

Our Partners
Impact HUB  Yerevan, Armenia
Center for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia (CSRDG), Georgia
SILab, Ukraine
Navstrechu Peremenam, Russia
DOBRA Local Social Foundation, Belarus

We also established a partnership with Dentons, an international law firm, to provide pro bono legal support through their lawyers in Belgium, Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine and Russia and help our partners navigate through complex legal environments.

When engaging with social entrepreneurs, we ensured that a number of cross-cutting topics are taken into account, with human rights and democracy issues is still highly sensitive in many countries in the region. Staying true to our values, we tried to mainstream promotion of gender equality, good governance, children’s rights and more.

This is, indeed, just a beginning. But for a project with such an insightful, hopeful and impactful start, the great achievements are around the corner. Here’s to an eventful 2022!