The RISE Expedition, A Journey of Connection, Exploration, and Enrichment

The RISE Expedition, a regional mobility initiative, with the support of the Agence Française de Développement, the European Union, The Regional Youth Cooperation Office and the Franco-German Youth Office, is providing selected social entrepreneurs with a valuable opportunity to connect with their peers, explore similar social entrepreneurship concepts in the Western Balkans region, and share lessons learned.

From Thumane (Albania) to Priština (Kosovo*)

Melody, a social business team aiming for people to rediscover agricultural activities and local culture, explored collaboration opportunities and gain insights into the world of agrotourism in Priština, Kosovo*.

The visit to various agrotourism sites proved vital in developing participants’ business ideas. Observing different operations, strategies, and success stories allowed participants to refine their own models. The firsthand experience broadened their understanding of product development and service offerings in the agrotourism sector.

A successful meeting with the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) laid the foundation for future collaborations. Participants discussed the Super School project, aiming to provide students with educational experiences, connecting them with nature and rural life.

Additionally, a meeting with the Balkan Green Foundation explored partnerships for environmental sustainability and social responsibility. The discussion fostered a shared vision and purpose.

To gain deeper insights, participants visited renowned agrotourism sites, including “Molla e Eger,” “Pulli i Arinjve,” “Kulla e Gjinajve,” and “Agroturizem Lura.” Engaging with staff and owners, participants learned about business strategies, unique menus, tailored packages, and captivating activities to enhance the agrotourism experience.

In conclusion, the RISE Expedition – Melody Agrotourism Exchange proved transformative, offering valuable lessons in management, leadership, and the intricacies of the agrotourism sector. Meetings with RYCO and the Balkan Green Foundation opened doors for potential collaborations. The visits to agrotourism sites ignited a passion for sustainable tourism and cultural immersion, equipping participants with knowledge and inspiration for future initiatives.

From Istog (Kosovo*) to Tirana (Albania)

During their visit to Tirana, Albania, the team from ReUse met with several influential individuals and businesses to discuss their innovative idea and seek potential collaborations.

Their first meeting was with the head of Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO), Mrs. Ardita Bona, and Mrs. Flutura Brakaj. The team explained the purpose of ReUse, their idea, growth, resource management, prototypes, and future goals. They highlighted the potential of the 3D printing and recycling industry and discussed ways to reach their objectives. The meeting was a success, as they received valuable feedback and ideas.

The next day, they met with Mr. Arden, the creator of “Krijo3d,” and discussed their projects, exchanged ideas, and explored possibilities for future collaborations. They also met with Mrs. Sonila Necaj and Mrs. Lindjela Begolli of Yunus Social Business. They discussed their projects in detail, explained their idea, and learned more about Yunus Social Business. The meeting was fruitful, as they gained valuable insights into social business and impact investing.

On the third day of their visit, the team had a meeting with Arbi Bamllari, the CEO of “3DSKAI” and “SKAITECH.” Despite his busy schedule, he took the time to welcome the team and show them his 3D printer machines. They explained their team, company role, dream, and ideas, while Mr. Bamllari explained his company, drone obsession, team, and connections. They also explored potential collaborative opportunities for their future projects.

Throughout their visit, the team had productive meetings and discussions that helped them gain valuable insights and connections. They were impressed by the hospitality and openness of their hosts. The visit to Tirana was an overall success, and they look forward to developing their project further with the potential collaborators they met during the trip.

From Podgorica (Montenegro) to Sarajevo (Bosnia & Herzegovina)

Pilates & Chill, a social business team dedicated to establishing a Pilates center for senior people, embarked on a RISE Expedition to the destination of choice, Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The team’s decision to visit Sarajevo was driven by their aspiration to learn from a successful entrepreneur who has established a thriving fitness business over several years. During their three-day stay, Pilates&chill made valuable connections and explored opportunities for growth and collaboration.

Their visit commenced at the RYCO office, where they met with Nadira, who shared insights into RYCO’s mission and vision. In return, the Pilates&chill team presented their idea and outlined their goal of assisting the community through their fitness concept. Nadira offered guidance and expressed her willingness to support them in the future, even accepting their invitation to visit their training sessions and witness their work in action, including the creation of a website.

Subsequently, the team visited the PFHSC center, founded by Adnan Maljević, a visionary entrepreneur who established a facility focused on both training and rehabilitation. Pilates&chill was impressed by the center’s dedication to working with the elderly population, both in-house and online. This encounter affirmed the demand for fitness services among seniors, leading to discussions about potential collaborations when Pilates&chill expands to Podgorica.

In addition to forging connections and business discussions, the team took the opportunity to explore the beauty of Sarajevo, visiting iconic landmarks such as the Eternal Fire and Baščaršija. They also reconnected with friends made earlier in their journey, savoring the local cuisine.

The Pilates&chill team’s experience in Sarajevo was marked by productive meetings, cultural exploration, and the assurance that their venture has the potential to positively impact the fitness industry in the Western Balkans.

About RISE Expedition

Following the Demo Day, the selected social entrepreneurs received a €500 mobility grant for a 3 to 7-day trip to the Western Balkans. The RISE Expedition is a valuable and enriching experience that provide Risers the opportunity to connect with their peers or social enterprises, explore similar social entrepreneurship concepts in the region and share lessons learned.

The RISE project is co-funded by the Agence Française de Développement, the European Union; Regional Youth Cooperation Office and the Franco-German Youth Office (OFAJ). 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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