September 18, 2017

Interview with Gjorgji Kushevski, Skopje HUB Director, CEED Macedonia

The Foundation Center for Entrepreneurship and Executive Development (CEED) Macedonia is a part of the CEED Global Network, which is an US based organisation with offices in several countries. CEED Macedonia is a business support organization that provides entrepreneurs with the knowledge and networks needed to grow and scale their businesses. Also, CEED supports start-ups, which involves pre-acceleration and acceleration programs, connecting young entrepreneurs with mentors and providing some investments.

What is the connection of CEED Macedonia to EVPA?

We joined the EVPA community last year because we believe knowledge and experience exchange is extremely valuable, and that is what the EVPA members offer.

From your 10 year experience, what are the main challenges that you notice in Macedonia when it comes to the small enterprises development?  But also in the CEE region?

In general, in Macedonia, access to finance for small and medium enterprises and start-ups is a big issue. Also, most of the young entrepreneurs have very limited business skills. That is why we have designed our acceleration programme which, besides training and mentoring, includes some initial capital for start-ups. This year, one of our main goal is supporting social enterprises.  During all these years, we have noticed that besides the lack of proper capital and investment, we also lack the appropriate training programmes for social enterprises. Now, we are adapting our acceleration programme to answer the needs of social entrepreneurs and we are very focused on establishing the first social investment fund in Macedonia.

What do you think social investment in Macedonia needs in order to gain more traction?

We need proper legislation that would help us grow and strengthen the sector. Also, we need training and information on how to manage investment funds, criteria and rules about what is an investment fund, who is eligible to establish and manage funds etc. In addition, we have to attract as many investors as possible in the region because there is a lot of untapped potential.

You are part of the EVPA CEE Task Force. Why did you join the initiative and how does it help you reach your priorities?

CEED Macedonia joined this initiative because we would really want to promote and support impact investment in this region. The social entrepreneurship is very popular in Western Europe and there are very effective support mechanisms for social enterprises that we could adopt and implement in this part of Europe as well.  

We plan to increase the number of our investment ready social enterprises and to secure capital for them through the new acceleration programme for social enterprises. CEED Macedonia has already invested 5,000 $ in “ONE Made”, a social enterprise for organic cosmetics products and retail which involves single mothers in the process of production and selling. “ONE Made” produces bee based products that are completely ecologically, natural oils and a wide range of cosmetics such as liquid and hard soaps, baby soaps, hard shampoo, lip balm, organic cold pressed oils etc.   

What about local resources? How hard is to raise local money to support social enterprises? How do local investors respond to these initiatives?

 Raising local capital for social enterprises is very challenging. Local investors are not very motivated to invest in enterprises that besides financial return should have a social impact as well. We are currently trying to attract some social investment funds outside Macedonia and hope we could motivate our local investors as well, by showing some good investment examples.

Together with EVPA support, you are setting up the first VP Fund in Macedonia. What is your biggest challenge?

One of the biggest challenges is the lack of a legal framework to regulate how the social investment fund should operate. We expect that this issue will be resolved with the new law for social entrepreneurship.

Also, the social business ecosystem is underdeveloped and there are not so many invest ready social enterprises. A lot of work needs to be done in order to develop their business skilss and get them ready for future investments.

How do you see EVPA's involvement and contribution? 

We should use the experience from Western Europe and adapt it in this part of Europe. This is something that EVPA can really help with. EVPA could play a big role in the development of social investments in the region, to work with the local players and help them build their capacity. Also showcasing some investment examples from CEE could be very helpful in attracting more and better resources for early-stage social enterprises.

Find out more about our work the the CEE region!

Photo Gjorgji Kushevski

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