Five to ten years from now, the markets in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia will be the most attractive ones for educational services and for doing business. Why?
They invest in their young population.
They are rich with natural resources.
The mindset of their leaders is starting to become global and they are starting to think entrepreneurial.
Additionally, the European Union’s interest to cooperate with these countries is huge. The EU intends to create competent markets and young entrepreneurs. Moreover, they also intend to invest significant resources in building capacities within young people (future leaders) and organizations (to be synchronized with EU regulations and procedures).
One of the programs that promotes this kind of cooperation is the Erasmus+ program for mobility and education. It has a special, so called Eastern Window, which allows organizations and institutions from East Europe and Caucasus to cooperate with European countries. Its goal is to promote transnational, non-formal learning mobility between countries, especially targeting young people with fewer opportunities, with an aim to improve participants’ level of competences and foster their active participation in society.
Within the frame of this programme, CEFE Macedonia is involved in two projects for building capacities of organizations in Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Georgia, Belarus, Lithuania, Turkey, Netherlands, Sweden, Bulgaria, Greece, Moldova and Croatia.
1. “Youth Resource Center for Entrepreneurship, Employment and Youth Led Development”
The first project “Youth Resource Center for Entrepreneurship, Employment and Youth Led Development” aims to create physical hubs where young people with ideas for creating new value can be consulted, supported and trained to realize their goals.
One of the project’s activities was the training for entrepreneurship competences which was held from 10 – 18 June 2019 in Baku, Azerbaijan. CEFE trainer Jovan Stalevski led the training and focused on the following points:
First, the training focused on motivating and activating youth to lead entrepreneurial activities and lead community development processes for creating a sustainable living for themselves in Gazakh region, Azerbaijan.
Secondly, through the CEFE Methodology, the participants learned to enhance their entrepreneurial competences to establish sustainable initiatives.
Lastly, participants developed general individual competences to be able to connect with the needs of the economic activities available in their regions.
The project will continue by creating a resource pack and materials for establishing acceleration and incubation programs for the youth’s business ideas, trainings for soft skills and entrepreneurial competences. In 2020 the first resource center will be opened in city of Ganja, Azerbaijan which will help young people from the region to undertake entrepreneurial activities.
2. “Start it up – Keep it up”
The second project “Start it up – Keep it up” gathered 6 organizations across Europe (Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia and Azerbaijan) to develop assistance and training of future potential social entrepreneurs by establishing social entrepreneurship hubs and training mentors in social entrepreneurship.
The project defines social entrepreneurship as a tool for solving social needs and innovations.
In the frame of this project 20 mentors are being trained in 3 different “training for mentors” programs and practical mentorship sessions which will be impacting 100 young people with social business ideas in the partner countries.
The training and program are developed according the CEFE methodology, and the first training of mentors was led in Croatia by CEFE trainer Zoran Vitanov and Ismail Sehic. The second training in September 2019, was led by CEFE trainer Jovan Stalevski and Marija Armenski. First of all, the trainings explained the term and meaning of social entrepreneurship. Additionally, it gave skills for being a mentor and mentee in the process, created business and evaluation tools and finally networked the mentors with institutions and individuals that support the social entrepreneurship ecosystems throughout Europe.
The range of the social business ideas that our mentors are assisting are wide: a café managed by deaf mute people in Macedonia, catering services produced by women with disabilities in Azerbaijan and an online game for kids with autism in Croatia to name a few. There are many more that solve some social problems.
What brings us together in the social sector is our common belief that social change is essential to create a society in which everyone will have a chance for prosperity. And, as we advance in the projects mentioned, I am hopeful for the day when social change is no longer discussed separately from other forms of business, because every business impacts and determines outcomes for people in our communities.