The term eco-social entrepreneurship is not well known nor popularized in Bosnia and Herzegovina so far. Social entrepreneurship with an ecological dimension is not sufficiently developed. In the Law on Social Entrepreneurship of the Republic of Srpska and the Law on Social Entrepreneurship of the Brčko district of Bosnia and Herzegovina environmental problems/challenges are mentioned within the definition of social entrepreneurship in the context of fulfilling social goals through social entrepreneurship. Also, in these laws, environmental protection is defined among the principles on which the development of social entrepreneurship is based. However, there are no special provisions that would refer to eco-social enterprises, in terms of providing specific forms of incentives to these companies.
Although there is no precise record on social enterprises and their scale yet, in the business practice in Bosnia and Herzegovina we can identify entities similar to social enterprises in the EU. Based on secondary research conducted during the creation of the 1st output of the BC4ESE project, we identified the following subjects of eco-social entrepreneurship in BiH:
- Associations of citizens/NGOs working on issues of promotion of natural environment protection, including employers working on these issues. However, there is no precise data on the economic activities of these organizations aimed at preserving the environment, which would have the character of social entrepreneurship;
- Companies (with limited liability) dedicated to achieving the goals for recycling that are prescribed by legal frameworks, companies engaged in the production of organic food, etc;
- Cooperatives engaged in the production of healthy food.
Existing social enterprises in BiH (in various forms), including those focused on ecological issues, face a number of obstacles and challenges, of which some of the most significant are:
- The importance of social entrepreneurship, including that aimed at solving environmental problems, is not sufficiently recognized in society;
- Business environment in BiH is unfavorable;
- There is a lack of institutional support aimed concretely to social enterprises (no permanent financial mechanism to support the establishment of new and development of existing social enterprises, no mentorship programs, etc);
- Existing support measures for companies that can be recognized as social enterprises by their characteristics are not fully implemented;
- Environmental challenges in the country are increasing;
- Success stories of entrepreneurship are little promoted in the media, etc.
In order to improve the situation in the field of eco-social entrepreneurship in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we defined a several key recommendations that indicate what needs to be done:
- To promote eco-social entrepreneurship, especially through examples of good practice, in order to achieve a better understanding of this concept and its significance in society;
- To improve the legal framework for social entrepreneurship, which will adequately support also eco-social entrepreneurship, through the adoption of new, improvement and harmonization of existing laws;
- To provide adequate financial and professional support to social enterprises based on their real needs;
- To create a more favorable business environment in terms of certain tax and other benefits in business, exemption from payment of levies, especially in the first years of business, for social enterprises;
- To design and implement targeted programs to support the employment and self-employment of young people, in accordance with their interests and needs;
- To establish awards for social enterprises and entrepreneurs, including the category of eco-social entrepreneurs, on an annual basis.