We held an open grant call to support social enterprises after the Covid-19 crisis and 81 enterprises applied. A jury chose 18 of them to receive grants of up to CZK 500,000 thanks to the generous support of Avast Foundation. The grants are accompanied by mentoring and other professional consultations, all with the aim of strengthening the resilience of these enterprises in the event of future crises.

The grant program is supporting enterprises that employ socially, physically or otherwise disadvantaged people, are important entities in their communities or regions and were severely affected by the crisis resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. A jury comprised of social enterprise professionals and representatives of Via Foundation and Avast Foundation selected enterprises that remained active through the crisis, want to develop their business further and prepare themselves for similar future situations and are willing to share their experience with others to help advance the development of social entrepreneurship in the Czech Republic.

“The applications we evaluated clearly showed the important role of these social enterprises in their communities across the country as well as the serious problems which they are facing. During the spring Covid-19 wave, they were already looking for alternate ways to survive and not have to let disabled employees go. We believe that through the financial and technical assistance these grants provide, their business models will become more resilient in the future. But we were able to support only a fraction of the applicants, who often fall through the cracks of systemic government support,” added Kateřina Kotasová, program manager at Avast Foundation and jury member.

Some of the supported social enterprises offer jobs in e.g. sheltered workshops, where physically or mentally disabled people create decorative ceramics, diaries out of recycled materials, handmade marinated cheeses or chocolate pralines, and in wood working or automotive services. Others employ people who are disadvantaged on the labor market in job training cafes and catering businesses. The social enterprises can use their grants between November 16, 2020 and November 15, 2021.

This crisis relief and enterprise development program is made possible through funding of CZK 10 million from Avast Foundation, which also played an advisory role in designing the grant program. Avast Foundation receives funding from Avast, a global leader in digital security and personal protection. Avast donated $25 million through Avast Foundation this year to support Covid-19 innovation and research efforts and other projects to alleviate the negative impacts of the pandemic.

Supported social enterprises 

1. VALAŠSKÁ DIAKONICKÁ s. r. o. (“First Valašské Diaconia”), Valašské Meziříčí

At 1. VALAŠSKÉ DIAKONICKÉ, s.r.o., people with physical disabilities find a path to employment, professional development and a quality life. The enterprise has three centers: On the hanger, Palomino and Pralines with a story. On the hanger is a sewing workshop, designer secondhand and alteration shops; Palomino delivers meals to senior citizens, offers cleaning services to households and companies and also provides handyman repair services; and Pralines with a story produces and sells handmade pralines.

Arkadie, o.p.s. (“Arcadia”), Teplice

The mission of Arkadie, o.p.s. is to support physically disabled individuals in attaining job, family and civic independence. In addition to providing related social services for more than 80 people, the enterprise employs physically disabled people. Almost 100 people with various levels and types of physical disabilities work in sheltered workshops in five locations. The workshops produce decorative cermamics which are sold in a store in the center of the city of Teplice (shown below).

 

Dolmen Oáza, s.r.o. (“Dolmen Oasis”), Sokolov

Dolmen Oáza prepares healthy, honest food, including options for vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free people. Its mission is to enable physically disabled people who have been unable to find jobs on the open labor market to work with appropriate support. The enterprise has trained dozens of individuals to find jobs, giving them both theoretical and practical training. The enterprise prepares daily lunch meals, event catering, snacks for school children and full meal service for a preschool and also takes part in crafts markets, food festivals and other events in its region.

Domov sv. Anežky, o.p.s. (“Home of St. Agnes”), Týn nad Vltavou

Domov sv. Anežky has operated since 1999 in Týn nad Vltavou, and has also operated in nearby Bechyne since 2018. It provides social rehabilitation, social therapy workshops and independent living support to physically disabled people; it also offers them job opportunities in a workshop that currently employs 40 individuals. The mission of the Domov sv. Anežky is to help physically disabled people live as independently as possible. It offers a local alternative so that these individuals don’t have to commute to larger cities for work or support. The Domov also helps municipalities in the area to conduct studies of public space disabled barriers and holds cultural and sporting events.

EKOVYSOČINA s.r.o. (“Eco-Vysočina”), Baliny

EKOVYSOČINA s.r.o. was founded on November 25, 2015 and has followed the principles of social entrepreneurship since its establishment. It offers specialized services in nature conversation, naturalistic garndens and specialized wood working with a carpentry workshop that employs physically disabled individuals only. It also provides specialized construction services and runs a sawmill and an e-shop focusing on naturalistic gardens. Despite its short history, it has already received a number of awards such as the Vysočina Region’s 2017 Deed of the Year award for creating jobs for physically disabled people.

Etincelle, o.s. (“Spark”), Kladno 

The Etincelle group of social enterprises was established in 2005 along with a civic association of the same name. In 2009, the organizations Startujeme, o.p.s., Twin Catering, s.r.o., Dělníci, s.r.o. and  Etincelle úklidová, s.r.o. were added. The mission of the enterprise is to employ physically and mentally disabled people and support them on their journey. It employs them in cafes and bistros, a bakery, laundry business and cleaning services. The group operates primarily in the Central Bohemian region and Prague and currently employs around 200 people.

HELEMIK manufaktura, s.r.o. (“Helemik Manufacturing”), Kroměříž

HELEMIK manufaktura is an industrial and sales social enterprise. Its major production area is automotive, followed by electrical supplies and assembly of electrical distribution boxes and wholesale protective and job equipment and office supplies. An important element in the enterprise is the managing directors’ personal experience; they have partners and family members with severe disabilities. The mission of the enterprise is to support physically disabled people to gain personal independence and fulfilment. Over 50 people with impaired work capabilities are or have been employed by the enterprise since its founding six years ago.

Květná Zahrada, z.ú. (“Flowering Garden”), Květná 

The non-profit organization Květná Zahrada was established in 2005. It provides social services (a home for young people integrating  into society), training and social-legal child protection and also operates a social enterprise. The Květná Zahrada social enterprise employs socially at-risk young people and other in-need groups of people, such as senior citizens, the long-term unemployed, physically disabled, etc. Květná Zahrada operates its own farm, a cheese-making facility, farm accommodations for tourists and a store, which is the only store selling food and household items in the community.

Lomikámen, z.ú. (“Saxifrage”), Beroun 

Lomikámen is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support mentally ill people. It provides social and other services that help people renew and acquire social and work skills, and does outreach about mental health. One of the organization’s key activities is operation of a training cafe called Jiná káva (“Different Coffee”), which is a social enterprise employing mentally ill people that also offers cultural, educational and outreach events. The goals of the enterprise are to help mentally ill people integrate into regular life through employment and also reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

Masopust gastro s.r.o. (“Pre-Lent Carnival Gastronomy”), Chomutov 

Masopust gastro s.r.o. is an integration social enterprise founded in 2015 as the gastronomy arm of the civic association Masopust. The civic association has been supporting people with varouis types of physical impairments and mental health issues since 2009. It provides 3 types of social services and employs 15 people with various diasadvantages or impairments. The social enterprise was established to provide another development opportunity, namely employment, for mentally ill people. The business produces confectionary products for its three cafes and provides catering.

Náruč, z.s. (“Armful”), Řevnice 

Náruč is a non-profit organization that has been operating in the Prague-West area for twenty years. It helps people with physical disabilities through outpatient and field social rehabilitation services, which support clients in re-integrating back into regular life after a long-term illness or hospitalization. Its experienced team of social workers helps clients stabilize their lives, find new social contacts, work, housing and meaningful free-time activities. It also operates a cafe called Modrý domeček (“Blue House”) in Řevnice, along with a facility producing chocolates, edible gifts and products for its catering service. Náruč also promotes corporate social responsibility, responsible shopping and sustainable manufacturing and consumption.

Pasta Fidli, s.r.o., Praha 

Pasta Fidli employs physically disabled individuals in its production facility, where they make fresh pasta, ravioli, gnocchi, pesto and dumplings. It supplies leading restaurants across the Czech Republic with its products. The company’s mission is to produce fresh pasta using its own recipes with no additives while employing people disadvantaged on the labor market.

Portus Praha, s.r.o., Praha 

DOBROTY S PŘÍBĚHEM (“Goodies with a Story”) is a social enterprise which launched a food production facility in the town of Davle in 2014. In 2020, it opened a bistro and cafe next door. After six years of operation, it now employs 15 people, 10 of whom are disabled. The social enterprise produces handmade marinated cheeses and meat products, which it supplies to dozens of restaurants, cafes and businesses in Prague and sells at markets and festivals and online. In 2016, the company was awarded the Ernst&Young Enterprise of the Year award in the Socially Beneficial Enterprise category. In 2015, it won the Most Successful Social Enterprise competition in Via’s  2105 Better Business program and its products have received several culinary awards.

SANANIM Charity Services, s. r. o., Praha 

Café Therapy is a social enterprise founded by SANANIM Charity Services, s.r.o., a subsidiary of SANANIM, z.ú., which has focused on creating jobs for people disadvantaged on the labor market and helping people with addictions since its founding in 2005. The cafe is one of several culinary businesses operated by SANANIM, z.ú.: alongside Café Therapy in the center of Prague, it also runs a bistro at the Pedagogy Faculty of Charles University and a cafe and actors’ club at the Divadla ABC theater. It also provides catering services both in Prague and other locations.

SKOBA s.r.o., Praha

SKOBA s.r.o. was founded in 2015 as a sheltered workshop. Its mission is to offer physically disabled individuals employment in crafts-artisan manufacturing enable them to be part of a successful enterprise whose products are commercially viable on the market. In the workshop, employees produce diaries, notebooks, photo albums and other stationary products from original recycled materials and environmentally-friendly paper. The manufacturing processes at the workshop are also environmentally-friendly; for example, notebook covers are created through recycling of various old materials like used clothing or paper (shown below).  

Sociální družstvo Střecha (“Roof Social Cooperative”), Praha

The Sociální družstvo Střecha has been operating Bistro Střecha in Prague-Žižkov for almost three years. It employs people disadvantaged on the labor market, specifically the homeless and people who have served prison terms. It follows the principles of democracy at the workplace – the cooperative decides on how the business is run. It is 100% vegan, both to promote sustainability and because it treasures animals and nature. Aside from the bistro and cafe, it provides catering services for events. The enterprise plans on expanding into sales of its own vegan products through an e-shop.

Spirála Ostrava, z.ú., Ostrava 

Spirála Ostrava provides social services and sheltered employment in the Moravian Silesian region. Its mission is to increase the potential of mentally ill people to participate in regular life and also decrease the stigma of mental health. It also seeks to create and maintain jobs for mentally ill people and others with physical disabilities and operate business activities that generate profit to be used for the further development of the organization. It provides catering and landscaping services and also sells handmade and sewn products.

TEKIS s.r.o., Chotěboř

TEKIS is a family firm that has offered sheltered employment since 2013. It currently employs 40 people, 30 of whom have physical disabilities. The main activity of the enterprise is production and wholesale of packaging materials. This year TEKIS also added crafts-artisan manufacturing of metal and wood products and electrical installation services. It plans on expanding into catering for companies and a small restaurant for the public next year.