Legislature and Mentality Are Hindering Social Entrepreneurship Development in Macedonia

“Pakomak” is a social enterprise established to recycle packaging waste and also to raise awareness among the citizens about the importance of recycling. It is one of most recognized, non-profitable companies that engage for better society and environment in Macedonia. Filip Ivanovski, CEO of “Pakomak” encourages youth to start their social enterprises, all for making this world a better place for living, but also for fulfilling their dreams.

Mladiinfo: Dear Mr. Filip Ivanovski, the well-known company “Pakomak” is founded and active in Macedonia since 2010, and is one of the most active non profitable companies in the region that is minimizing the negative impact of packaging waste on the environment. Could you please explain us how did you come to an idea to start this socially responsible, non-profitable company?

Ivanovski: “Pakomak” is founded by 11 companies that joined together in the primary effort to organize collection and recycling of packaging generated after consumption of their products. In 2011 we have start creating our waste collection network and we ended 2011 with less than 7.000 tons of packaging waste collected.  Now, beside initial 11 founders, we have over 800 companies that are our clients and we collect over 21.000 tons of packaging waste in 2017. “Pakomak” is not-for-profit company which main focus is increasing recycling rates of paper, plastic, glass, metal and wooden packaging waste that is generated in Macedonia. We are doing this in the most effective and efficient way, with 5-10 times less costs for our clients/companies than the costs that they would pay if not organized in Pakomak. So, with minimal costs we try to achieve maximum positive impact on the environment and society.

Mladiinfo: Could you please tell us what have you learned by now, in these 8 years of existence of the company? Is Macedonia a country where the services you provide are applicable and appreciated?

Ivanovski: Changing behavior of citizens is the most challenging part of our job. It is useless to put separate collection containers and bins on streets if people or citizens are not willing to do proper “primary” selection of their waste at home or at the moment they dispose their waste. In EU similar systems started in early 90’ and it took over 15-20 years to see obvious results. So, we are now in the process of changing citizens’ habits and use them to sort their waste, not only packaging, and dispose it in the right bins: blue (for paper), yellow (plastic& cans) or green (for glass).

Of course we are sure that our services are applicable in Macedonia and we are very determined to give our contribution in changing our society toward much cleaner and greener society. On this mission, we are trying to engage socially vulnerable groups and that is another social benefit, beside the environmental one.

“Keeping smartest in Macedonia will rapidly increase country’s potential for innovation”

Mladiinfo: What in your opinion are the main obstacles in the advancement of social entrepreneurship ecosystem in our country?

Ivanovski: Beside the changes that have to be done in our laws and foster and motivate start-ups of social entrepreneurs, the attitude and mentality has to be change as well. Risk-taking and not-profit-only mindset has to be cherish. Profit is of course important for sustainability of any social enterprise, but it should not be the only drive. Making profit is not a sin, but should not be on expense on environment and peoples’ health. Even more, social entrepreneurs have to return-back part of their profit to the society or community in which they operate, for projects that will improve peoples’ life.

Mladiinfo: How social entrepreneurship can provide a response to the youth unemployment in Macedonia? Can eventually social entrepreneurship reduce the brain-drain process?

Ivanovski: The countries with lowest unemployment rates are those with highest number of entrepreneurs and high-level of innovation and risk-taking social culture. Therefore, more social enterprises means more jobs for all groups with different education background. Educated youngsters have to have fair chance to start realizing their dreams in their home country and that is the main responsibility for every government. Keeping smartest in Macedonia will rapidly increase country’s potential for innovation and entrepreneurship in all areas. And that will generate jobs even for lower-profile workers with less education. That is the cycle we must turn-on.

Mladiinfo: What would be your advice how to motivate youngsters to enter the social entrepreneurship’s world?

Ivanovski: Do not afraid to try fulfilling your dreams. Do not afraid to fail in the attempts to reach it. Hard working always pays off and when it is for benefit of the whole society, it is endless satisfaction and reward.

Interview by: Irina Popovska

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