Thursday, September 17th 15:00

Business and civil society

- growing divide or getting closer? What is the potential of expanding partnership for needed social change and reforms.

Involving the representatives of both sides, this session will address the following questions: What can we do to break this outdated binary thinking about the two sectors? Is the business of business business or should it be involved in achieving social change? What motivates business and civil society actors to cooperate? What are some good examples of partnerships? Why do they work? Are we looking for the “lowest common denominator” or are there other types of projects that can benefit both partners? What is not working and why? What should be done by both parties to create workable partnerships? What is the place of CSR in all this: is it just another form of self-promotion and is that OK, or do companies mean good? 

We will use the input from a pre-conference survey to put provocative questions on the table and share experience and opinions of people from all over the CEE region. 

Contribute your views to the design of the session by filling in this brief survey questionnaire available in 2 versions - for civil society organizations
or for representatives from a business perspective.


Eva Varga is Enterprise Development Director for the NESsT Venture Fund in Central Europe. She manages the NESsT Venture Fund (NVF) portfolio of social enterprises in Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Croatia; advising portfolio members and providing consultancy in business operations and development issues. She oversees the NESsT operations in Romania, and liaises with partners supporting NESsT and NVF all throughout Europe (business and nonprofit sector, donors, public sector institutions). Before joining NESsT Ms. Varga worked in the field of microfinance, as a Branch Manager of the Micro Finance Bank of Yugoslavia, an international development bank established to contribute to the revitalization of the economy through the financing of private micro and small enterprises. Ms. Varga was responsible for setting up and running the operations of the Bank in the Northern part of Serbia. In 2000-2001, she participated in the appraisal of microfinance and reforestation projects sponsored by the United Nations and the World Bank in Central America. Prior to this, she worked as an internal management consultant at ABN-Amro Bank in Hungary, where she conducted efficiency surveys and business process redesign projects. From 1995 to 1998, she was a consultant to multinational clients, representing Amer Nielsen Research, a leading market research company in Eastern Europe. Ms. Varga holds a Masters of International Affairs (M.I.A.) from the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University and a B.A. in Economics from the Budapest University of Economics. She was born in Eger, Hungary and currently lives in Budapest.

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