WESTERN BALKANS – For the last four months, 137 young entrepreneurs gathered in 46 teams from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia worked on developing their social business ideas. In the upcoming days, they will compete in front of a jury for financial support and access to a regional incubation program to make their ideas a reality. In total, 12 teams will be supported with a financial grant of 2.500€ each.
A total of 33 training sessions on social business development, 19 meet-ups for community building, 182 mentoring sessions, 26 experts consultations, 135 one-to-one coaching sessions and 6 regional peer learning business sessions were organised. These events allowed the young people to actively develop their social business idea, have a chance to learn from each other, get open to new ideas, create a connection between projects developed in different communities and create new friendships and connections across the Western Balkans.
Implemented by six Local Incubators from the Western Balkans and coordinated by a consortium composed of regional and European partners, RISE (Regional Incubator for Social Entrepreneurs) aims to enrich the Western Balkans social entrepreneurship ecosystem and enable young people to develop innovative societal solutions thus contributing to reconciliation and cooperation in the region. A positive change in the Western Balkans is possible while stability and prosperity can be achieved only by fostering reconciliation and cooperation in the region.
The selected entrepreneurs are young people from the region, 18 to 35 years old, motivated to learn about social entrepreneurship and be involved in a regional intercultural program. Through this tailor-made approach, they develop their concrete ideas that tackle social or environmental issues in their communities. Participation in the RISE project is also developing their skills and contributing to their employability.
The project promotes dialogue and cooperation between actors and between the territories. It is a three-year-long project that started on 1 October 2019 and is being implemented across the Western Balkans 6.
On the project
The RISE project is developed and monitored by a consortium composed of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO), GROUPE SOS Pulse, South East European Youth Network (SEEYN), Institut Francais, and the Franco-German Youth Office (OFAJ), and implemented by six local incubators: ARNO, Balkan Green Foundation, Nesto vise, Smart Kolektiv, IEC Tehnopolis and Yunus Social Business.
The general objective of RISE is to foster reconciliation in the Western Balkans through the promotion and strengthening of social entrepreneurship in the region. The project opens new spaces of reconciliation for the youth of the Western Balkans, through a regional program to support social entrepreneurship.
This project is co-funded by the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO).
On social entrepreneurship
A social enterprise is an operator in the social economy whose main objective is to have a social impact rather than make a profit for their owners or shareholders. It operates by providing goods and services for the market in an entrepreneurial and innovative fashion and uses its profits primarily to achieve social objectives. It is managed in an open and responsible manner and, in particular, involves employees, consumers and stakeholders affected by its commercial activities.
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence