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Members of the Seimas

Kazys Starkevičius, Chair of the Committee on Economics: ‘Enhanced social enterprise is key in times of crisis’

Press release, 2 December 2022


Kazys Starkevičius, Chair of the Seimas Committee on Economics, took part in the remote National Dialogue of Social Business Development initiated and held by the Lithuanian Social Enterprise Association in cooperation with the Diesis Network Policy Lab.


The aim of the event was to discuss international good practice on legal framework and to lay the foundations for the dialogue between the main stakeholders of the Lithuanian ecosystem in order to accelerate the development of the social enterprise sector.

Photo by Džoja Gunda Barysaitė, Office of the Seimas


According to Mr Starkevičius, while the recent crises were largely deepened by the invasive and destructive war waged by the terrorism sponsoring Russia in Ukraine, social economy entities have demonstrated their extraordinary capacity to contribute to the building and strengthening of resilient communities and to managing fundamental socio-economic change.


‘Last year, the World Economic Forum underlined that social enterprise sector, while addressing current social problems, surpassed other industrial sectors and created up to 12 % of jobs. It should be noted that the scale and impact of enterprises dealing with social problems is huge and amounts to 2.8 million social economy entities in Europe alone,’ said the Chair of the Seimas Committee on Economics.


According to Mr Starkevičius, last year, the European Commission adopted an Action Plan for Social Economy, which is already under implementation. The plan is designed to facilitate social investment in the Member States of the European Union and support social economy entities and social enterprises so that they can make an appropriate contribution through developing their activities, making a greater social impact, and fostering innovation and job creation.


‘In the face of today’s ongoing crises, finding the proper ways to use policies, investment and awareness-raising campaigns is key to unlocking the potential of social enterprise for making the recovery more inclusive, sustainable and fair,’ Mr Starkevičius said while welcoming the participants of the event.


The Chair of the Committee expressed the hope that after Ukraine’s victory, when the reconstruction of destroyed and ravaged housing stock, kindergartens, schools, hospitals and other vital infrastructure facilities would begin in Ukraine, the social enterprise sector would also have a role to play.

Photo by Olga Posaškova, Office of the Seimas


Viktorija Bražiūnaitė, head of the Lithuanian Social Business Association, shared an insight that regulation of social enterprises was nascent in Lithuania at the moment, as social enterprise lacked a legal definition, which obstructed the promotion of sustainable development of the sector. ‘Lithuania has gone to great lengths to attain freedom and democracy; therefore, we must constantly uphold its fundamental principle, namely, the involvement of civil society in decision-making. It is important that the social partners are also involved in the decision-making process,’ Ms Bražiūnaitė said.


In her words, the socio-economic consequences of the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 crisis make the task of building a resilient economy and a resilient society more urgent than ever before. This can be done through employing social enterprises, which concurrently create tremendous value for national economy.

Photo by Džoja Gunda Barysaitė, Office of the Seimas


Tim van-Wijk, founder of Pirmas Blynas Restaurant, supported Ms Bražiūnaitė and said the absence of a legal status under the legal framework of Lithuania had prevented his company from enjoying the status of a social enterprise, even though the company employs people with disabilities as part of its social mission. ‘We decided against being an NGO, even though NGOs receive support for carrying out their social mission. We wanted to prove instead that enterprises can also perform such functions in a society,’ Mr Van-Wijk said.


Amal Chevreau, policy analyst at the OECD Unit on Social Economy and Innovation, also emphasised the role and flexibility of social enterprises in the face of war and economic crisis, stressing the importance of building a resilient society.


Representatives of Ireland, Latvia and Albania also presented their relevant experience during the dialogue. Luca Pastorelli, representative of the Diesis Network Policy Lab, made a presentation on an ongoing legal feasibility study, which will provide recommendations to Lithuania on the development of social enterprise. Patrick Klein and Miia Rossi-Gray, European Commission representatives, presented an action plan and initiatives on promotion of social economy across Europe and talked about the ways for Lithuania to use the European Commission’s tools to enhance the national social enterprise ecosystem.

   Last updated on 12/02/2022 11:40
   Monika Kutkaitytė