Social economy at a glance
The 112/2018 Coll Act on social economy and social enterprises considers that social economy entities can take different forms. A register of social enterprises was established in 2018. It counted 66 registered social enterprises in December 2019. Beyond this register, in 2018, Slovakia also counted 1085 de facto social enterprises including :
- Non-profit organisations with revenue generating activities,
- 650 public benefit organisations,
- Non-investment funds,
- 350 civic associations,
- 80 private limited trade companies,
- 5 cooperatives
- But also some religious associations, and sole proprietors that are also employers can be considered as part of the social economy.
Source : Social Enterprises and their ecosystems in Europe, Country Reports, Slovakia 2019
* For this website we included this overall assessment of the level of development, it is based on the data and information about the social economy ecosystem currently available and therefore has some limitations. However, we still considered it useful to include this overall assessment.
** Source: EESC/CIRIEC (2016) Recent evolutions of the Social Economy in the European Union, please note that this estimate is on the high end as it is based on organisation type and did not apply a more narrow check for all elements in the social economy definition.
For more details on the data quality see our note on social economy data.
Tradition and origins
Slovakia has a long history of civil society engagement, more specifically under the form of corporations and religious organisations, and involves a lot of voluntary work. In the 19th and 20th century it particularly expanded through clubs and associations to deliver social services (charity work, settling and managing of hospitals), and through the emergence of the cooperative movement.
This expansion was stopped after World War II. During the communist area, the social economy mainly survived under the form of cooperatives employing people with disabilities.
The 1990s marked a turning point for the re-emergence of the civil society in Slovakia. It coincides with a strong growth among foundations, associations and non-profit organisations, especially thanks to the support of international funding. The diminishing of international funding at the end of the 1990s has forced these structures to think their revenue flows differently and to increasingly engage in entrepreneurial activities. Furthermore, reforms of the delivery of social services in Slovakia gave a growing role to social economy actors.
Framework conditions and social economy ecosystem
Policy and legal framework
The legal recognition of the social economy in Slovakia started thanks to the introduction of a legal framework specific to WISES. In 2008, the first definition of social enterprises appeared in the context of an Act on Employment Services and the role social enterprises in carrying out active labour market policies.
It was reinforced with the introduction of the Act 112/2018 Coll which acknowledges the social economy, defining its terminology, and stating the main categories of social enterprises in Slovakia.
This law endorsed an ex lege definition of a social enterprises, thereby fixing a set of conditions to fulfil to be registered as such. Thanks to the 2018 law, registered social enterprises can benefit from some advantages such as reduced VAT, or access to investment and compensatory aid.
Beyond the law, the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family, in broad partnership with social partners, is preparing a an Action Plan to support the social economy and social enterprises in the Slovak Republic with a view to 2030.
Policymakers in the field of the social economy
The Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic is the promoter of Act 112/2018 on Social Economy and Social Enterprises. It determines the main frameworks of support delivered by the central government to social economy entities, both financial and non-financial.
Regional government have recently strengthened their role in supporting the social economy. But this support is mainly complementary and focuses on the development of the regional ecosystem necessary for the functioning of the social economy in a given specific region.
The social economy Act of 2018 introduced the Social Economy Institute. This organization has installed 8 regional offices to provide technical assistance to social economy entities and entrepreneurs.
At local level, municipalities also create their own social enterprises as a way to drive socially and environmentally responsible local development. It is for example the case in the Municipality of Raslavice.
Networks, federation and representative entities
There are not many umbrella organisations of the social economy in Slovakia. The Alliance for Social Economy has been settled to represent and defend the interest of social enterprises. It provides support to social economy actors in knowing how to access the advantages they are entitled to and leads awareness raising and social economy education actions. Cooperatives are represented by Coop Product Slovakia (CPS).
How to get involved in the social economy in Slovakia?
Some training programs have been set up to encourage citizens to discover the social economy and get involved in voluntary activities:
- University courses are dedicated to the social economy,
- Foundations, such as the Green Foundation, provide first opportunities for children and young people to build sustainable community based projects.
At regional level, social economy actors can turn to the Social Economy Institute Regional offices. They offer :
- Information on social economy,
- Training events,
- Capacity-building activities for social entrepreneurs,
- Events for the promotion of the social economy in the region.
Private actors are also invested in providing support to newly established and existing social enterprises. They notably offer:
- Counselling for project leaders (Social Innovators)
- Training programs, including e-training (Academy of Social Economy)
- Incubation, (NESsT, Impact Hub)
- Raising awareness among local ecosystems to encourage partnerships with the social economy.
Public funding in Slovakia is mostly dedicated to WISES and social enterprises carrying out job creation and employment promotion activities. This support is provided thanks to subsidised wages and through the mobilisation of the European Social Fund +. Information on the calls for proposal opened under the structural funds are available on a dedicated platform.
Recently social investing has started to emerge in Slovakia. The main players in this field are currently :
- Slovenska Sporitel'na: it offers investment instalment loans and operating instalment loans to non-profit organisations, registered social enterprises and other kind of de facto social enterprises.
- SB ESPRI: it is a fund management organisation supporting businesses and non-profit organisations with a positive social and societal impact. It plans to invest 10,5 million euros between 2022 and 2023 though equity, loan and subordinated debt.
- Social Innovators: it manages a 10 million euros impact investment fund providing equity and quasi-equity to social enterprises.
Private grants can also be accessed by social economy entities. Foundations indeed manage funding programs for social economy and impact-driven oriented projects (e.g. Ekopolis foundation), as well as award competitions (E.g. Social Impact Award).
Learn more about the social economy in Slovakia
- The Ministry of Social Affairs and Family offers dedicated pages on the social economy on its website. It provides information about the number of registered social enterprises, offers annual reports on the social economy in Slovakia, displays direction to the Regional Centres of Social Economy. Link : https://www.employment.gov.sk/sk/praca-zamestnanost/socialna-ekonomika/
- The Social Economy Institutes has its own website, providing where it is possible to find contact details for the networks supporting social economy regionally. Link : https://socialnaekonomika.sk/institut-socialnej-ekonomiky/
- The Alliance for social economy in Slovakia provides information on the self-governance of the social economy in Slovakia and some help on advice on various topics concerning social economy actors. Links : https://www.ases-slovensko.sk/pomoc-a-poradenstvo/
- Social Enterprises and their ecosystems in Europe, Country Reports, Slovakia, 2019. Link: Document database - Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion - European Commission (europa.eu)