TIRANA – For the second consecutive year, RISE Regional Bootcamp, was successfully organized. To create a space for meeting and exchanging ideas, the Bootcamp brought together from 15th to 17th March 2023 more than 40 young social entrepreneurs, trainers, experts, RISE partners, and decision-makers across the region and EU in Tirana (Albania).
Launched on 1 October 2019, RISE (Regional Incubator for Social Entrepreneurs) with its ten partners, supports any venture by young people in the Western Balkans that aims to have a positive social or environmental impact on their ecosystems. The implementation of the project takes into account the specific needs of the region as well as its historical and political context. Thus, this project aims to foster reconciliation in the Western Balkans through the promotion and strengthening of social entrepreneurship.
RISE Bootcamp – a meeting place for social entrepreneurs
The Bootcamp marked the beginning of the incubation chapter. On this occasion, Risers deepened their knowledge of topics of business culture and intercultural understanding, business model, branding & pitching and sales and marketing.
Together with the Local Incubators (ARNO, Balkan Green Foundation, IEC Tehnopolis, Nešto Više, Smart Kolektiv and Yunus Social Business Balkans) and PULSE (Groupe SOS), the Risers were able to benefit from their expertise to improve their projects further, develop product and/or service prototype, and create action plan for the next step.
“Every successful entrepreneur had many failures in the beginning but was persistent to improve the service or product. that’s what we want to show our risers, and that the amount of impact they make on society depends only on them.” Mr Adem Lisičić, Project Manager at Nešto Više, pointed out.
The event ended with a pitch session in front of a distinguished jury including Ardita Bonatti, Director of Operations at Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO), Maja Kovačević, Project Coordinator at PULSE Balkans and Kelly Robin, Deputy Director at PULSE (Groupe SOS). Three teams stood out for their diligent work.
1. Coffee Mates, supported by ARNO, tackles the problem of coffee waste by turning it into organic fertiliser and other products that contribute to the circular economy
2. Soko Camp, supported by Smart Kolektiv, wants to reduce children’s high screen consumption by offering outdoor activities in their area.
3. Komunumo, supported by IEC Tehnopolis, is a digital platform that in an innovative way combines language learning and employment services for migrants in accordance with their education and experience, creating independence of the region.
“It was a great pleasure to hear all creative social business ideas from our Risers during the pitching session, but also to meet them all in one place. During the Bootcamp, these young entrepreneurs had a chance to learn and test in the practice valuable lessons on how to improve their business and how to become more attractive and successful on the market, together with mentors and representatives of local business incubators and RISE partners. Seeing them working together, we in RYCO are convinced that they are fulfilling our goal – creating a new space for reconciliation among youth in the Western Balkans through social entrepreneurship” Ms Ardita Bonatti, RYCO Director of Operations, underlined.
A showcase on youth reconciliation in the Western Balkans
Encouraging reconciliation through social entrepreneurship is a crucial element in the development of the RISE project. As a regional project, RISE aims to create a community of social entrepreneurs in the region.
The involvement of SEEYN in the intercultural component allowed the Risers to open the space for questioning the cultural values and their manifestations in daily life and broaden understanding of cultural differences in the business setting.
“The intercultural component in business is very important, you can have the best idea in the world, but if you cannot communicate that in a proper manner to the wider audience it would fail. I think Risers understood that and it was a real pleasure working with them in order to sharpen their soft skills.” Ms Vanja Kukrika, communication and administrative officer, stated.
Within the upcoming four months of the Incubation chapter, young entrepreneurs will be a part of the regional mobility program, while simultaneously developing their business ideas into a functional prototype. Results of both processes will be presented and promoted during the RISE Regional Forum in Skopje.
“The RISE Bootcamp is the result of a regional collaboration with all our partners. After the success of this event, we are convinced that social entrepreneurs – Risers, through the RISE project, will have a positive impact on their surroundings. For the PULSE team, it is a great source of motivation to see these social projects evolve, and we are looking forward to following their next steps during the incubation chapter of the RISE Journey.” Ms Kelly Kobin, Deputy Managing Director at PULSE (Groupe SOS) concluded.
This project is supported by the Agence Française de Développement, the European Union; Regional Youth Cooperation Office and the Franco-German Youth Office (FGYO), PULSE (Groupe SOS), South East European Youth Network (SEEYN), ARNO, Balkan Green Foundation, Nesto vise, Smart Kolektiv, IEC Tehnopolis and Yunus Social Business Balkans.