Social entrepreneurship under the spotlight

In September, Salem Social Village was again chosen to host the annual Kazastkhani conference for non-profit organisations and the social sector. ZhasCamp, as it is known, takes place in numerous locations around the country each year, and last month we welcome many active members for a day and a half of presentations, training courses and discussions.

Salem Social Village’s Director, Arman, set the scene with a look at social entrepreneurship and its place in Kazakhstan today. “Unfortunately, society’s values today largely centre around money, power and individualism,” he said. “The goal of the Social Village is to show people that what is really important in life is helping people around you, growing as a person, taking part in activities that enhance society.”

He went on to explain the importance, being recognised more and more, of education having an experiential component. For example, the AIDS Xperience at Salem gives people the chance to imagine themselves in the place of someone at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, and to understand the kind of problems that person faces. “This kind of format, walking in the shoes of another person less fortunate than you or I, is much more effective in helping in the fight against discrimination than just giving a talk about it,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, with regards to the law, there is no clear designation for social entrepreneurship as such. “Under Kazakhstan law at present, there is no explicit recognition of social entrepreneurship, where revenue-generating activities with non-profit socially-minded goals are developed by non-commercial organisations,” he explained. “But all the same, the conditions and permissions required for creating social business are all present.”