RISE supports 125 young social entrepreneurs in Western Balkans 6

WESTERN BALKANS – The RISE project selected 125 young entrepreneurs gathered in 44 teams from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia to develop their social business ideas during the 3rd RISE Journey.

The renewal of the RISE Project

After the success of the first cycle, the RISE project has been renewed for three more years with the support of its partners. The project is supported with 1,4 million euros by Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the European Union and the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO).

RISE and its project partners, PULSE (Groupe SOS), Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO), South East European Youth Network (SEEYN), the Franco-German Youth Office (OFAJ), ARNO, Balkan Green Foundation, Nesto vise, Smart Kolektiv, IEC Tehnopolis and Yunus Social Business Balkans will aim to open new spaces of reconciliation for the youth of the Western Balkans through social entrepreneurship.

This new phase will allow us to secure our support to the development of the social entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Balkans and to have even more impact on the youth of the region!
As RYCO team we have been very lucky and privileged to work with talented and wonderful youngsters in the RISE project region. At the same time, I am really amazed by this young generation’s energy and courage and how it transmits the social impact to society through their potential and innovative business ideas, turning them into solutions in order to create jobs and generate incomes for themselves and other members of their communities, including the marginalized groups. Definitely, we will continue to support the new generation of Risers, their ambitious ideas and their perspectives to make the Region a better place, hand in hand with the mission of RYCO. I am sure and confident that the Risers will shine bright like the diamonds and will successfully achieve their mission as the best ambassadors of the social entrepreneurs in the Region.

This renewal of the RISE project will allow the implementation of new activities to contribute to the development of the social entrepreneurship ecosystem and to improve access for young people in the Western Balkans. Thus, a 3-day study visit in Paris for local incubators to interact with key actors in the field of social entrepreneurship in France, a regional hackathon to encourage innovation in the field of peace-building and many other activities will be developed during this second cycle.

Seeyn is very excited along with other members of our big RISE team about the project renewal. This means we will continue to support within all our capacity young people from the region who choose to get out of their comfort zone. As they are learning valuable lessons on how to be successful social entrepreneurs, we are continuing to learn how to contribute more and be useful in our societies.
RISE programme, recognized as a great and perspective opportunity for youth willing to develop ideas in the field of social entrepreneurship, within the renewal is enhancing the Montenegrin ecosystem and improving the community. This renewal gathered new creative, ambitious, perspective youth that will resolve community issues within the support of LIs and project consortium, and will make our community better and more empowered.
Young people from the region are creative and entrepreneurial, but they lack support, advice and connections. Even so, they are passionate about making a positive impact on society, and it is of great significance that their voices can be heard and amplified through this project. Everything they learn throughout the RISE journey, all the knowledge, tools and contacts they have acquired, the community they create, enhanced by regional connections and partnerships the project enables will contribute to the development of larger and stronger social entrepreneurship ecosystem.

The beginning of RISE Journey 3

RISE was looking for entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 35 in Western Balkans with the ambition to develop an idea with a social impact.

The call, launched in October, resonated throughout the Western Balkans region, and many responded. In total, 130 projects were submitted to local incubators. The selection process was complex, but 44 teams stood out with their motivation and innovative ideas.

"Young people nowadays have intuition and sense about running a business and making an impact at same time. We had 40+ applications and each of them was valuable: dance studio trying to shake stereotypes and make office people workout, agricultural enthusiasts for composting and producing natural local fertilisers (super relevant in the times of the world crisis), mushroom lovers ready to lunch medicinal products, few ideas were about local artists establishing art collectives, great deal of the applications were how young people can grow circular economy startups and see business potential where everyone else sees garbage. The team at ARNO really enjoyed reading and pre-selecting the finalists, then the jury had the main decision."

The ideas covered many themes from an organic and local beauty products manufacture to an educational programme for people with disabilities, the new generation of Risers is determined to make an impact in their surroundings.

In every selection process, including this one in which we selected 6 teams from a large number of applicants from Bosnia and Herzegovina, we also try to encourage all those who were not selected to continue developing their ideas. We want to let them know that not being chosen doesn't mean that their ideas don't matter and that they don't have potential.

With the selection of the young social entrepreneurs completed, local incubators have started to implement the ideation chapter.

This phase is developed in each local incubator and coordinated at the regional level. The main objective of this chapter is to enable young Risers to transform their idea into a sustainable social enterprise model. During this phase, local incubators will provide  access to a series of trainings, meetings, workshops, panel discussions and mentoring sessions about social entrepreneurship and interculturality.

The beginning of the project looks very interesting and challenging with innovative ideas including young people from many regions. The different phases have helped to create sustainable ideas.

At the end of the ideation chapter, a demonstration day is organised by local incubators for each team to present their social enterprise model addressing the identified problem, with impact and sustainability. Two best social entrepreneurship projects will be chosen to be supported with financial grants, a regional mobility program and a regional incubation program to make their ideas a reality.

"It is very interesting to see the different ideas throughout different stages of development. We are very eager to help the ideas shape better, give our contribution for the further development of the ideas and it is definitely exciting to see the final version of the work we will be doing during these phases.

On the project:

This project is co-funded by the Agence Française de Développement, the European Union and Regional Youth Cooperation Office. RISE project is developed in partnership with the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO), PULSE (Groupe SOS), South East European Youth Network (SEEYN), the Franco-German Youth Office (OFAJ), ARNO, Balkan Green Foundation, Nesto vise, Smart Kolektiv, IEC Tehnopolis and Yunus Social Business Balkans.

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