To begin with, what exactly is “social entrepreneurship”? A relatively new term in our business circles means a socially responsible entrepreneur who takes care of the local community when doing business by conducting various educations about this type of business, networking other stakeholders – in this case tourism stakeholders such as small OPGs, peasant households, rural houses for vacations, local attractions with adventure activities from our own offer such as rafting, diving, food and wine tours, 4×4 safari tours, etc. One of the characteristics of a social entrepreneur is certainly the reinvestment of at least 75% of the annual profit, i.e. excess income in business strengthening.
We were guided by this very logic, and by applying to the call for “Strengthening social entrepreneurship – phase I”, October 1, 2020. received support and started the implementation of the project called “Sustainable tourism through social entrepreneurship”. With the supervision of the Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy, the project is implemented with the support of the National Foundation for the Development of Civil Society. The total value of de minimis support amounts to HRK 1,117,518.39 financed from the European Social Fund. The amount of EU co-financing is 85% or HRK 949,890.63, while the Republic of Croatia participates with 15% or HRK 167,627.76. The project implementation period is 19 months, i.e. until May 1, 2022.
For the purposes of the project, we have employed 6 people who will work for 19 months on the implementation of the activities, i.e. the achievement of the main goals of the project, of which the most important are educations on social entrepreneurship, sustainable tourism, the development of awareness about the protection of nature and its biodiversity for unemployed people, who make up one part target groups. The second part of the target group is precisely the employees of the agency, whose capacity to perform socio-entrepreneurial activities in tourism opens up the possibility of even stronger involvement of local family farms, wineries, restaurateurs, accommodation providers and the like. Many unemployed people in the rural areas of Karlovac and Zagreb Counties can use their unused capacities (agricultural land and machinery, accommodation facilities and other services) in the service of their own self-employment.
The holder of the Croatia Open Land Tous DMC project, a destination management company that is entering its seventh year of successful operations in Karlovac County, central Croatia, and beyond. We design, create, sell and take out complex tourist package arrangements ourselves using local resources; from natural resources, domestic OPGs, family and hotel accommodation, rural holiday homes, restaurants, visits to city attractions such as museums, galleries, monuments that we combine with our own activities such as rafting, Discovery diving, trekking, 4×4 safari drives , wine tours, organization of various team building workshops and events, photo safaris and photo hunting offers lasting one or more days.
The business of our agency is based on nature and an individual approach to each guest, we are fully aware of each inquiry and in cooperation with the guest we arrive at a final offer to mutual satisfaction. In all tours, we emphasize how important it is to think about and take care of nature, how to live in harmony with it, how to respect and nurture the natural eco system.
This is precisely why it is logical to choose a partner for the project; Local action group Vallis Colapis, which has been the leading organization for rural development in Karlovac and Zagreb counties for many years. The Polytechnic in Karlovac is a higher education institution that received 6 grants from the EU and national funds in the last year alone. The third partner in the project, the Municipality of Kamanje, is constantly investing in the modernization of its municipality’s infrastructure through EU funds.
Social entrepreneurship brings life back to rural areas
From all of the above, we conclude that this project directly contributes to the enrichment of the local tourist offer, and thus to stopping transit guests, increasing the number of overnight stays in Karlovac County to weekend overnight stays or multi-day package arrangements instead of the previous one-day trips. With joint efforts in the form of education, public and local community awareness, networking with other tourism stakeholders, we can achieve exactly that, which is the main point of social entrepreneurship. The development of tourism in rural areas encourages the retention of the local population, the preservation of the rural way of life, traditions and customs, but also the improvement of the quality of agricultural production and living as a whole.
During the implementation of the project, we will hold numerous workshops and public forums on the topic of social entrepreneurship in tourism, in which all interested parties will be able to participate. We will write about the exact dates and topics later.
photo taken from karlovacki.hr