Interviews

Interview with Dejan Kozić, President of “Let’s Live Together”

dejan kozic

We spoke with Dejan Kozić, president of “Let’s Live Together” Association, which provides assistance to people with disabilities.

“I felt the greatest pleasure when we first made a salary listing and when our beneficiaries came to get their salaries, and stood in line, thirty – forty at a time, and when we saw how happy they were...it’s the moment you realise that you have done something good “.

Can you give a brief explanation, based on your personal example, as to what is social entrepreneurship and what do you do?

The goal of our enterprise is to help people with disabilities in exercising their right to work. The exercise of this right is essential for the stability of each person and their integration in society. Back in 2001, we started collecting waste paper in schools, and thus managed to provide some income for our beneficiaries. Since 2001 we have gradually developed our activities: we have purchased sorting containers, started collecting other recyclables, introduced the service for making folders where our beneficiaries daily assemble up to ten thousand folders. Through these two services, 66 beneficiaries receive their salaries. It is, in my opinion, the basis of social entrepreneurship –the social groups that cannot be competitive in the market are given the opportunity to earn for their living.

A few months ago we managed to reach an agreement with the Municipality of Stari Grad about new premises. We got premises in Višnjićev pasaž. We have already rearranged one part, and are working intensively on the other. One of the rooms is a workshop where our beneficiaries make different things out of glass, and another room is intended for Art Centre, where they are engaged in painting. We have also opened a shop that sells a variety of things that our beneficiaries make: chairs, vases and various creative glassware products. We are currently arranging a room for workshops for parents of children with disabilities, and a playroom with special toys is already finished.

When did you feel the greatest satisfaction with the work you do?

When we first made a salary listing and when our beneficiaries came to get their salaries, and stood in line, thirty – forty at a time, and when we saw how happy they were...it’s the moment you realise that you have done something good. Even those who initially did not want to work, after having seen the satisfaction of other beneficiaries, wanted to get involved. A particularly important result is that some of our beneficiaries have stopped taking their therapy. Doctors and parents have noticed a remarkable improvement in them - they no longer think of themselves as useless and powerless, and are much more satisfied. Their personalities have been strengthened through work and accompanying activities at the Centre. The ability to work and enjoy the results of their work makes our beneficiaries happy and me as well, because I am aware that I have done something in my life.

What is good about a social enterprise? How would you recommend social entrepreneurship to others?

Social entrepreneurship is a chance – nowadays when jobs are scarce, a social enterprise can create jobs for various social groups. It can also be a good opportunity for young people to gain work experience and necessary knowledge, even as volunteers. Yesterday, a social worker at the Association told me: 'I have just now realised what I've learned here with you”. Through the work in a social enterprise everyone can learn a lot. Pooling knowledge, skills and ideas, as well as mutual help and support are also very important. Nobody is sufficient for themselves, we are all dependent on each other and only through knowledge that us shared with people everyone wins.