TIRANA – The Regional Incubator for Social Entrepreneurs (RISE) project, supported by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) organized a three-day regional Forum on social entrepreneurship, which took place in Tirana, on 6-8 September 2022.
The Forum brought together the most relevant actors and stakeholders of the entrepreneurial ecosystem from the Western Balkans 6 and Europe. The key objective of the second RISE Regional Forum, supported by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, was to shed light on the importance of developing support mechanisms and legal frameworks to foster social entrepreneurship as a powerful instrument for the social and economic development in the region.
The first day of the Forum started with the opening session moderated by Executive directress of SEEYN Ms. Mirela Rajković, and attended by the Secretary General of RYCO Mr. Albert Hani, French Ambassador to Albania H.E Elisabeth Barsacq, Minister of State for Youth and Children in Albania Ms. Bora Muzhaqi, Mayor of Tirana Mr. Erion Veliaj, Deputy Head of Mission, German Embassy in Albania Mr. Jannis Von Oy.
“Even though you have faced a number of challenges and difficulties you never gave up, you followed your passion – working with high dedication and motivation. Today is a very special day and we are all here together to celebrate the joint success of all parties involved throughout the 2nd RISE cycle” stated Mr. Hani. “I wanted to congratulate you all for your amazing job for being real change-makers in the region, successful social entrepreneurs are a genuine inspiration for other young people in the Region” he concluded. This session was moderated by RISE Project Coordinator Ms. Ardita Jola and followed by an informal meet-up with the 2nd generation RISERs who presented to the audience their experiences and achievements from the RISE journey through the social marketplace.
The second day of the RISE Regional Forum was also very inspiring. Participants got the chance to get acquainted with different topics, from the regional and European perspectives on the social economy to the action plan on how to better support social enterprises in the Western Balkans. Different stakeholders/representatives of a wide range of ecosystem players, (ie central and local government institutions from the region, local, regional and international development institutions, NGOs, social entrepreneurs, academia, and experts and mentors), presented a number of suggestions and innovative projects aiming to promote the development of the social economy in the Western Balkans. They shared their expertise, challenges, and successes in making the region a better place.
The last day of the Forum was dedicated to the peer exchange among support organizations for social entrepreneurship and to the exchange of practice and services at the regional level. One of the topics discussed was also how to strengthen the component of peace education, intercultural learning, and reconciliation in the RISE journey itself.
One of the key messages from the Forum is that the state of play in the social economy could be taken to the next level only by joining regional synergies and forces. In this vein, the RISE Forum provided a great cornerstone & platform to motivate young social entrepreneurs to engage in intercultural dialogue and learning, provide opportunities to enhance business skills, and support networking.