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Social economy at a glance

Level of development
Estimated share of employment
10 710**
Estimated paid employment

It is difficult to assess the real extent of the social economy in Slovenia. There are indeed many de facto social entities in the country: entities pursuing social goals, employing vulnerable people, carrying out social activities. But only a small portion of them request and acquire a recognised status of “social enterprises”. 
In 2017, ex lege, there were 254 social enterprises in Slovenia, but de facto, it was estimated they were around 934, including: 

  • 424 associations:
  • 455 Private institutes (organisations performing activities in the fields of education, science, culture, health care with non-profit goals)
  • 4 cooperatives
  • 51 foundations
  • 24 limited liability companies

Some entities (cooperatives, institutes, limited liability companies) can obtain the status for employment centres, or company for people with disabilities (only for limited liability companies). These organisations constitute an important branch of the social economy in Slovenia

  • Companies for people with disabilities: 144
  • Employment centres: 61

Social enterprises and their ecosystems in Europe, Country Report, European Commission, 2019
Impact assessment study on cross-border activities of associations, 2023
Agency of the Republic of Slovenia for Public Legal Records and Related Services (AJPES)
Boosting social entrepreneurship and social enterprises development in Slovenia, OECD, 2022


* 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.


More recent data available for Slovenia:

OECD estimates there are 27 414 SSE entities in the country, employing 26 126 people as of 2020. The majority of SSE entities (84.4%) are associations, followed by private institutes (12.2%) and others. 1 272 people were employed in registered social enterprises as of 2020

In Slovenia, social economy can be defined formally based on legislation and, on the other hand, informally through identification of social economy actors with fundamental social economy values and principles.

The formal aspect is covered by the Social entrepreneurship Act from 2011 (amended in 2018), which defines that "a social economy is an economy that consists of social enterprises, cooperatives, companies for people with disabilities, employment centres and non-governmental organisations (societies, institutes, institutions or foundations) that are not established solely for the purpose of making a profit, but operate for the benefit of their members, users or wider communities and produce commercial or non-commercial products and services” (Social entrepreneurship Act, art. 2). This act and other legislation also define more precisely all here accounted organisations of social economy.

Informally, organisations and initiatives can be defined as social economy actors, if they follow the values and principles stated in different global policy documents or networks documents.

In 2022, Slovenia counts:

  • 23.389 associations, out of which 65 have a status of a social enterprise
  • 3.885 (private) institutions, out of which 101 have a status of a social enterprise
  • 397 cooperatives, out of which 59 have a status of a social enterprise
  • 35 of Limited Liability Companies – Ltc. (d.o.o.) with a status of a social enterprise
  • 256 foundations, out of which 2 with a status of a social enterprise
  • 144 Companies for people with disabilities
  • 61 Employment centres
  • 1 mutual assurance company

According to the Agency of the Republic of Slovenia for public law records and services, 420 cooperatives reported their activities in 2017.

On 31st May 2023 official evidence shows number of organizations with a status of a social enterprise: 262



Impact assessment study on cross-border activities of associations, 2023
Agency of the Republic of Slovenia for Public Legal Records and Related Services (AJPES)

Ministry of economy, tourism and sport: Register of social enterprises
Boosting social entrepreneurship and social enterprises development in Slovenia, OECD, 2022

Network of non-governmental organizations of Slovenia (CNVOS - Center za informiranje, sodelovanje in razvoj nevladnih organizacij)

Corporate performance in 2017 (


Tradition and origins

Social economy is a rather new concept in Slovenia, although Slovenia has a very long cooperative tradition. The first cooperative in the financial sector was established in 1856 in Ljubljana (as a help society) and in 1872 in Ljutomer (as a loan cooperative). The Yugoslav law on cooperatives was adopted in 1937, Slovenian law on cooperatives (Cooperative Act) was adopted after independence in 1992. In the past ten years Slovenia is witnessing the rise of cooperative development once again.

Social economy as a concept is known from the 1980s and the 1990s, mostly in nongovernmental movements and social theory, while the social entrepreneurship concept came into use after the year 2000 through European financing programs and finally in 2011 Social Entrepreneurship Act.

Framework conditions and social economy ecosystem

Policy and legal framework 

In 2011, Slovenia adopted the Social Entrepreneurship Act. It introduces the status of “social enterprise”, which is not a legal form but a recognition of the entity’s compliance with the values and principles of social economy. The social enterprise status grants several advantages to its holder: possibility of free leases, set-aside procurement, donations on tax (a resident may require that up to 1% of his/her income tax be used to fund grant recipients - This is available to those enterprises which are legally organised as associations, foundations or institutions (NGO's) and if they have a status of an organization in public interest), access to finance (micro-credit, loans). The amendment of the Social Entrepreneurship Act in 2018 introduced the concept of social economy in Slovenian law.

Policymakers in the field of the social economy 

Social economy in Slovenia is under the responsibility of the Ministry of economy, tourism and sport. A Council of Social Economy has been set up as a government body. It coordinates policies in the field of social entrepreneurship and social economy. It is composed of representatives of the social economy organisations, social partners and of different ministries. The social economy council is working on a 10-year social economy strategy focusing on visibility and data on the social economy, better access to finance for social economy entities, and enhanced support regarding social impact measurement.

The 2018 Social Entrepreneurship Act gives municipalities an important role to play in supporting the social economy. They can integrate social enterprises related projects into local development programs and provide the social economy ecosystem with dedicated resources and support including special tenders, access to municipality real estate free of charge (regulated by law), funding to support local employment programs.

The Cooperative Act is under the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food  (agricultural and forest cooperatives represent 17% of all cooperatives). The topic of economic democracy (employee ownership and co-management, pluralism of ownership, participatory governance) and housing cooperatives are under the responsibility of the Ministry for Solidarity-based Future, while the cooperatives with the status of social enterprise are in jurisdiction of Ministry of economy, tourism and sport.

Networks and representative entities 

There is no official representative federation of social economy organizations in Slovenia, although there is a representative federation of agricultural cooperatives with a tradition from the 1970s.

The social economy ecosystem in Slovenia is animated by supportive (mostly non-governmental) organisations as well as local business communities. Some of them are listed below. They perform different kind of actions to promote the social economy on national and local level: 

  • Informal education and training for social economy (workshops, seminars).
  • Consultation for social economy.
  • Advocacy (e.g., campaigns to support responsible social procurement).  
  • Information and guidance for social economy entities to access national and European calls for tenders available to the social economy.
  • Cooperation with regional and local authorities to further promote the integration of the social economy in such local development projects and support local social enterprises in their development.  

How to get involved in the social economy in Slovenia?

There are some formal and informal training programmes for social economy offered by the Slovenian faculties, schools, non-governmental and other organizations. In higher education, there are no programs on social economy topics (neither on BA or MA level) but there are several courses on social economy within social and business study programs.

Most of the informal training offer depends on project financing and is therefore not constantly available.

Also, there are no common curriculum guidelines for different offers. But there are many European projects now running to research the needs for education and training and to develop curricula that will address the educational needs of the social economy sector (Social B, baSE etc.).

Also, several faculties of University of Ljubljana founded a research centre The Social Entrepreneurship Centre at the University of Ljubljana. It brings together the University and 6 members of the University with the aim to develop research, education, consulting and other support activities in social entrepreneurship. The Centre was established by the University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty, Faculty of Economics, Faculty of Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Work, Faculty of Administration and Faculty of Education to set up an applied framework for research and development that connects researchers, educators and students from different areas with the economy and non-governmental sector, while offering potentials for cooperation to all those interested in the topic and possibility to participate in courses and workshops dedicated to social economy. The Centre may also be joined by associated members, i.e. the faculties interested in social entrepreneurship.

Get support

In 2021, the Ministry of economy, tourism and sport allocated specific funds to support social entrepreneurship, especially through seed funding, the set-up of consulting services and mentorship schemes.

Support organizations or networks for social economy:

     The Slovenian state also provides some support for start-ups to which social entrepreneurs can pretend:

  • The national SPOT system offers a comprehensive system of support and free state services for business entities. Institutions providing assistance, information and advice to business entities are united under the single brand “SPOT”,
  • The SPIRIT Agency and its Business Portal provide advice to entrepreneurs as well as tailored programs to support and promote entrepreneurship (e.g. promotion of entrepreneurship among young people, female entrepreneurship...).

Other organisations such as Impact Hub Ljubljana, Poligon - crative center, MP - Young Entrepreneur Institute and SocioLab  Podravje etc., can provide support to social economy entities including:

  • Training programs and mentorship,
  • Information on funding and calls for interest in the field of social economy,
  • Networking and building of local business communities and projects,
  • Coworking space.

Read more about the Social Impact Award Slovenia here.

More specific and sector-oriented support can be delivered by:

  • The Centre for Creativity: the first national business development accelerator for professionals working in the creative and cultural sectors. The Centre's programmes are aimed at strengthening the social and economic value of the sector.
  • The Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry of Slovenia creates a supportive environment for solving social problems in agriculture and rural areas. It provides expert advice and assistance for the development and activity of social enterprises in agricultural production.
  • The Housing cooperative Zadrugator offers support and advocacy for cooperative and other types of community housing solutions



Social economy entities can benefit from public funding, mainly through the mobilization of European programs. Additionally, some funds that do not target social economy entities directly can be mobilised, such as: 

  • The Slovenian Regional Development Fund supporting entrepreneurs for rural and regional development, 
  • Funds for SMEs from the Slovenian Export and Development Bank may benefit social enterprises,
  • The Slovene Enterprise Fund supports SMEs through various programmes including micro-credits, guarantees and start-up incentives. A portion of these funds are dedicated to social enterprises. It also offers small value incentives through vouchers 
  • A Learning Workshop programme has been developed to support employment via the social economy. It offers participants six-months on-the-job training in the social economy, followed by 6 to 12 months of subsidised employment.

Some private actors have also been developing alternative sources for financial support to social economy: 

  • The first private impact investment fund was established in 2012: FUND2740 aims at financing social entrepreneurship and innovation in Slovenia through grants, bridge loans and microcredit.
  • The banking sector has also been experimenting with the launch of a program of financial awards for social enterprises.  

Learn more about the social economy in Slovenia

Here are some links to learn more on the Slovenian context:

  • Governmental pages on the social economy: Socialno podjetništvo | GOV.SI
  • The Institute for Economic Research is actively engaged in social economy research. Recently it has been involved in various research and advisory project in the field of social economy (development of the virtual social entrepreneurship incubator, measurement and reporting models on social impact, implementation of social impact bond in Slovenia. Website
  • The centre for alternative and autonomous production (Association CAAP, soc. ent.) is a non-governmental organization for the development of the social economy and new social practices. It focuses on research, development, advocacy, training, and consulting in the field of cooperatives. Website:
  • Foundation PRIZMA, is semi-public organisation supporting social economy and social inclusion in Slovenia. It leads regional projects to stimulate social enterprise development. Website: Fondation PRIZMA – Fondation Prism (


Stakeholders articles - Slovenia