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8 December 2021

The Impact of Covid-19 on the Social Economy in CEE and Turkey

The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly changed our lives, social interactions and economic conditions. It has had a major impact on social enterprises and small and growing businesses all over the world.

In April-May 2021, Impact Hub carried out a research project in order to gauge what exactly that impact was and how social enterprises, government and other stakeholders reacted. The research covered five countries from the Central Eastern European (CEE) region — Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine and Turkey.

Although the pandemic had a significant negative effect on both business and social impact, the crisis did not wipe out the social enterprise sector in any of the five countries — it was actually a testing arena for the sector’s capabilities of resilience, resourcefulness, and adaptation.

Social economy, social entrepreneurship, social innovation_Presentation event, Impact Hub

The research report summarises the findings and offers policy recommendations for mitigating the consequences of the crisis caused by the pandemic and for supporting impact-economy businesses in recovery and rebuilding efforts in each one of the analyzed contexts.

A sneak peek at the research findings

Social enterprises can be (and should be) important allies for central and local governments in tackling new and old challenges that societies face, and there are many ways to unlock their potential.

However, despite the fact that all five countries covered by the research have a nascent social enterprise ecosystem with a growing number of players, they still have relatively little visibility and voice in the public arena. Similarly, there are a number of ongoing social enterprise programmes and initiatives in the considered region, but many are still small-scale or in the pilot phase and do not represent a priority for governments.

As a consequence, the official emergency and recovery measures that responded to the Covid-19 pandemic did not specifically target the social enterprise sector. Even though they contributed to solving many health and social issues during the crisis and created innovative models for the future, social enterprises are hardly included in post-Covid recovery and rebuilding plans.

Finally, the crisis highlighted a number of challenges, needs and gaps in the social enterprise ecosystems. However, many of the challenges for social enterprise development post-Covid are not the result of the pandemic; they existed before. Social enterprises today still need formal recognition, better visibility, access to public sector markets and appropriate finance.

For more on the Impact of Covid-19 on the Social Economy and Impact-led Entrepreneurship in Central Eastern Europe and Turkey, head to our Publications page and check out the full version of the report.