Social Accounting and Audit in Croatia

SAN-CroatiaThis following extract is from a report by Suncana Glavina Petrievic who attended a PIA Workshop in London in November 2011 along with a colleague, Sandra Magdalenic, to learn how social accounting and audit can assist the development of the social economy and non-profit organisations in Croatia. 

"Civil society in Croatia is still in development and transition phases. Today there are more than 50000 different registered associations, foundations, trade unions who present great social capital for future development. Social entrepreneurship in Croatia has been developing spontaneously within an undefined legal framework and without much support at national, regional or local levels.

As part of a national strategy for creating an enabling environment for civil society initiated by the Ministry of Economy, Labour and Entrepreneurship, it was recognized as important to develop the social economy and non-profit entrepreneurship. 

Social business initiatives around the country are facing many administrative, financial and organizational difficulties in starting and running their social enterprises. The most common issues and obstacles social entrepreneurs are facing are lack of managerial skills, business planning, HR management, financial management, marketing, and reporting on social benefits. 

Social impact assessment is a growing field in Croatia. It is recognized as an important evaluation/development framework not only by Civil Society Organizations (CSO) and social enterprises, but also by various other organizations, including the private business sector, the public sector and donors and foundations. 

Social accounting and audit was first introduced in Croatia in 2006 by S. Pfeifer (Faculty of Economics in Osijek) in his Management Handbook where he described social audit as "systematic evaluation and reporting on the activities of companies that have an impact on society". Similar definitions could be found in various other papers and presentations.

In 2010 the British Council organized training on "Social Business Planning" delivered by Freer Spreckley (Local Livelihoods, UK) who introduced Social Audit to Croatian CSO trainers. In the same year, the University of Pula organized the first workshop on SAA in Croatia, hosted by Peter Friedrich (University of Tartu, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration). Since then a basic e-learning course on social accounting has been developed for their students that should be running in 2012.

In 2011, several conferences and training events were organized for social entrepreneurs and CSO leaders on social entrepreneurship by various organizations which included social impact assessment, SROI and SAA as tools and methods.

At the end of 2011 the Centre for eco-social development CEDRA-Cakovec was established. Although there are private businesses offering services of social impact assessment, CEDRA- Cakovec recognized the growing need for structural support and capacity building of CSOs/social enterprises and aims to provide them with high quality services and products. Some of the plans in SAA field for 2012 include a number of several introductory workshops and a national conference."

In April this year Suncana and Sandra approached SAN to assist in the delivery of a Social Accounting and Audit Workshop as part of the Esensee project led by Teo Petricevic involving 15-days training on Social entrepreneurship and economy with 17 delegates from Croatia, Kosovo, Serbia and Macedonia. The workshop was conducted by a live video link between the UK and Croatia on April 30th 2012.

It is hoped that Suncana and Sandra will attend social auditor training in the UK to complete their auditor qualifications to be able to provide PIA Workshops and help develop social accounting and audit in Croatia and neighbouring states.