Shift towards online and offline entrepreneurship community
Project dates: 21.10.2016 – 21.01.2018
Partners: No Frontiers 21 Century Association
Specific objective: Improving the competitiveness of regional businesses
Intervention field: Self-employment, entrepreneurship and business creation including innovative micro, small and medium sized enterprises
The cross border region between Bulgaria and Macedonia is facing one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe, which is making the high rate of migration to different regions in the country, and towards other countries, alarming. This is mostly from the lack of knowledge and self-initiative/responsibility competences that are lacking among the population and young people especially. There have been a lot of processes that have been implemented both by the civil society sector and the institutions, but most of the times it is lacking the element of accessibility and attractiveness of the information and possibility presented.
The main idea of the project is to offer a space not only for learning, but a space that will serve as a community for sharing, practice and exchange of ideas. This space will be available online but the project will offer blended, synchronized (online and offline) activities. With this kind of activities towards entrepreneurship, employability skills, social businesses it is expected that the main aim will be transferred towards wider target groups.
Project management meetings
1. Forming a joint team to implement and coordinate project. Joint team will be consisted from representatives from both partners who will divide the tasks and further activities within the project
2. Implementation 2 residential meetings X 2 days (one in MK one in BG)
3. Selection of subcontractors on the project
4. Translation of project documentation in Buglarian, Macedonian and English
5. Online meetings for project coordination ensuring a constant and precise flow of the project
6. Reporting, documentation and archiving
II. Project Study and Analysis
This activity will focus on the realization of a study that will research the possible areas of work for social entrepreneurship and will provide with detailed analysis on possible points for advancement and developments of social entrepreneurship in the cross-border area.
The study will primarily focus on mapping the:
a) Specific target group in the cross-border area, their employment and educational opportunities (types, frequency and popularity), migrations tendencies;
b) Available offer of vocational trainings in the cross-border region on the topic of entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship, with focus on analysis about their strengths and weaknesses, as well as challenges in clearly identifying the interests of the target group in the area regarding the development of social entrepreneurship.
c) Mapping of already existing active social entrepreneurship in the cross – border region and areas of their potential advancement
III. Online community for practice and learning
The project will launch a joint website, as a platform for development of online community of practice and learning (Shift). The platform itself will serve as a space for development of competences of the interested people, more specifically our target group, in starting their own social entrepreneurship or joining an already existing one.
The website will offer information about the project, and will also serve as a space for learning and sharing positive practices and challenges one may face when opening a social entrepreneurship. Here the results from the research and analysis from the local reality of the region will be used, ensuring the successful and effective usage of the outcomes and a system of providing useful information the target group requires in order to start their own social entrepreneurship.
The website will also publish other elements connected to the project such as the e-courses, information and contacts of active social entrepreneurs in the region and employment opportunities.
IV. E-Courses and online activities
Development of 4 online vocational courses, available on the project website. The courses will be on the topics of Entrepreneurship, Business communication, Project management and English Language. Besides focusing on this topics the courses will also provide a skill set on topics such as working in teams, organizational management, communication skills, and there will be the possibility to take the courses individually and in groups. The courses will be available on Macedonian and Bulgarian language and will be interactive, providing input on the identified topics and possibility to upgrade skills. The courses are available on a joint Moodle platform for e-learning and each participant is able to receive an electronic certificate after successful participation. These courses specifically target unemployed.
Besides the e-courses, forums, webinars and blogs will be offered with experiences from successful entrepreneurs. Trough the video blogs and webinars the participants in the courses will be able to learn from the experience of the successful entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs themselves will have a space for networking and sharing positive practices among each-other.
V. Seminar in Macedonia and Bulgaria
This activity will include two seminars on the topic of ‘Available mechanism as a support for my business plan’. The seminars will be organized both in Bulgaria and Macedonia, and will host 30 participants each from the cross-border region. Each of the seminars will host participants from both countries, ensuring the exchange of practices, experiences and local realities (20 from the hosting country, and 10 from the partner)
Each of the seminars is a three day seminar on entrepreneurship, targeting unemployed people in the cross-border region. The seminar will elaborate the topic of how to start and manage social enterprise, both online and offline. During these seminars representatives from organizations and institutions that are experts in the field, will be invited to share their knowledge and experience of the available resources and tools that can be used to start off a business initiative and lead to a successful implementation of one’s business plan.
The seminar will provide participants with competences in entrepreneurship, develop their communication and management skills and foster self-employment possibilities and opportunities. The seminar will primarily involve unemployed youth from the both sides of the border, targeting them through Employment Agencies. The seminar will also involve Representatives of Employment Agencies, civil sector and (social) Business sector to interact, include, motivate and share best practices with the unemployed young people.
VI. Study Visit – Entrerpreneurs in our region
The study visit will be a 4 days activity that will gather a total of 24 young people from the cross-border area that will visit successful social entrepreneurships in the region and will be given the chance to learn from the experience of this already established enterprises, as well as to familiarize themselves first hand of the challenges, opportunities and obstacles they face, but also the benefits of this enterprises for the communities.
Besides visiting social entrepreneurships, the participants will be offered a chance to visit also small businesses from the region in order to explore the opportunities for redirecting and switching their area or work towards social entrepreneurship.
The study visit, being in the cross-border area, will explore different initiatives and opportunities for development of new, but also the advancement of existing social enterprises.
The Study Visit will gather 12 participants from Macedonia and 12 participants from Bulgaria.
VII. Entrerpreneurship brochure
This activity will undertake a period of following the flow of the all the previous activities of the project, in order to ensure a development of interactive entrepreneurship brochures that will be used by young unemployed people seeking for first employment and/or self-employment.
These guidelines are input for training on social entrepreneurship and general outcome of the project. They will be developed by project experts, following the process of learning of the participants on the seminars, e-courses and study visit, as well the results from the research and analysis mentioned in the previous activities. This brochure will be published in English, Macedonian and Bulgarian. The brochure will be delivered to partner organizations, Employment Agencies, Business incubators and VET Institutions in the region.
Besides this, the interactive brochure will be also available online.
VIII. Shift – Entrepreneur Caravan
This activity is envisioned to be a traveling caravan visiting six different cities and towns in the cross-border region, three in Macedonia and three in Bulgaria.
The caravan’s main purpose would be to offer on-spot capacity workshops for the local communities, and to provide them the chance for raising their entrepreneur knowledge and competences.
The caravan itself would be consisted of two experts in the topic of social entrepreneurship, communication and project management, who will serve as facilitators engaging and guiding the local communities through this topics.
Another element of this activity would be the meeting and collaboration between educational institutions, civil society sector, local governments and social entrepreneurs from the region. This meeting would be organized as a platform for exchanging practices, working on the easement of the legislatives in order to encourage the opening of new social enterprises, and working on policy making regarding the benefits of social enterprises on local communities.
The open-air activities done during the Shift – Entrepreneur Caravan will be directly connected and streamed to the online platform allowing a continuous connection with the online users and the different communities from the region, giving them a chance for exchanging of knowledge and experience.
During the Shift – Entrepreneur Caravan a promotional video will be developed.
IX. Final project conference
The last activity of the project will be the final project conference.
The final project conference will serve to deliver:
– Information about the project, idea of the project, project partners and experience
– Information about the previous activities within the project, and the outputs of the same. This step also includes presenting of the final products of the project, presenting the research and analysis, interactive brochures, online courses, promotional video and the outcomes of the seminars and study visits.
– As a specific outcome, the final conference will also focus on presenting the results of the consultation meetings held as part of the Shift – Entrepreneurship Caravan with the educational institutions, civil society sector, business people and social enterprises owners and local governments.
– Future plans for the Shift – online and offline community
Within this activity there will be a total of two conferences organized, one in Macedonia and one in Bulgaria.