RISE Regional Forum: Social Economy Plays Significant Role in Post-COVID Recovery

BELGRADE – The RISE Regional Forum, organized within the 8th Social Innovation Forum, took place in Belgrade, Serbia on 9-10 September 2021. The event brought together young social entrepreneurs as well as representatives of French Embassy to Serbia, RYCO, Pulse Group, the French Development Agency and other donors who discussed the current state of social entrepreneurship in the region, current best practices and European initiatives and the Western Balkans’ perspective.

“RYCO brings peace and reconciliation aspects into this project that reaches a lot of young people. It will continue supporting this project because besides hearing the voice of youth we want to support their ideas. Through this project, RYCO contributes to approximation of the economic standards of the Western Balkans to the one EU. I strongly encourage young people to use this unique opportunity as much as possible and solve the problems in their communities. Be creative and the products of your work will reach the big capitals,” RYCO Secretary General Mr Albert Hani underlined at the opening of the forum.

By bringing different actors together, this event gave a platform to exchange experiences to take the region’s social economy to the next level.

The COVID-19 crisis has exposed much fragility in our economies and societies and has deepened the existing inequalities. We all need to make an effort in post-COVID recovery, but taught by this experience, to build systems that are more sustainable, that take into account both social, environmental and economic aspects and needs of a society. Development of social economy and social enterprises is one of the most important directions towards building a more resilient, more sustainable and inclusive economic model and society in Western Balkans region. Therefore, all sectors have a role to play in bringing mix of policy measures, diversified financial resources and expert support to help social economy to mitigate short- and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.  This was one of the key conclusions of the Social Innovations Forum (SIF).

The RISE regional forum is part of RISE – Regional Incubator for Social Entrepreneurs, which is developed and monitored by the Consortium consisting of RYCO, Pulse (SOS Group), SEEYN, the Institut Français, and the Franco-German Youth Office (FGYO), and supported by the Agence Française de Développement and the Regional Youth Cooperation Office.

The 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 Western Balkan youth through a regional program that supports social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurship is a way of doing business that places economic efficiency at the service of people and the environment. A social entrepreneur therefore tries to find innovative solutions to social problems.

RISE, a three-year project launched in 2019 already supported 46 teams composed of 137 young people from the Western Balkans in the development of their social business ideas. The participants accessed a series of training, individual coaching sessions and a mentorship program. Twelve of those teams were rewarded with financial grants of 2.500€ and a regional incubation program.

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