RISE Project Empowers 160 Young Social Entrepreneurs in Western Balkans

The RISE project has announced the selection of 160 young entrepreneurs, forming 51 teams, from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia. These individuals will embark on the 4th RISE Journey, supported by co-financing from l’Agence Francaise de Developpement, the European Union, the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) and the Franco-German Youth Office (FGYO). This exciting programme offers them a unique opportunity to develop their social enterprise concepts and create a positive impact in their local communities.

Conclusion of the call for applications

The call for applications, launched in September, received an overwhelming response from the Western Balkans region. A total of 175 social business ideas were submitted to local incubators, showcasing the region’s enthusiasm and ambition for social entrepreneurship. After a rigorous selection process, 51 teams with exceptional motivation and innovative ideas were chosen as the finalists for the RISE Journey.
The proposed business ideas encompass a wide array of themes, from upcycling to women’s empowerment and promotional initiatives. The selected participants are committed to fostering significant community transformation. Explore the list of selected teams here.

“Our selection committee was in front of great challenge this year, we had received numerous of high quality application with diverse scopes and ranges of impact. In respect of RISE mission, we continue to grow with our selected teams “- Andjela Nikcevic, Project manager at IEC Tehnopolis

Toward a new RISE Journey

The third edition of RISE Journey, which closed last September, produced impressive results: 108 young people took part in the ideation chapter and 12 social business ideas were successfully incubated. Additionally, the participating teams had the opportunity to embark on a journey throughout the Western Balkans, where they met with and learned from other social businesses with similar goals and ideas. The programme enabled participants to learn about social entrepreneurship and develop their idea, build relationships and learn from the experiences of others, highlighting the potential for collaboration and continued growth in the region’s social entrepreneurship sector. Overall, the positive results of RISE Journey 3, the effectiveness of the programme in empowering the region’s young social entrepreneurs and promoting positive social change make way for a new edition of the RISE Journey.

“RISE enhanced my business skills with a focus on social impact. Networking with talented peers from the Western Balkans enriches my experience.” – Arbnor Demaj, 3rd generation Risers from ReUse team.

The beginning of the RISE Journey 4

With the selection process completed, the next phase of the RISE project is underway as local incubators begin implementing the ideation chapter. This phase, coordinated at the regional level, focuses on transforming the young entrepreneurs’ ideas into sustainable social enterprise models. The local incubators will support the participants through a series of training sessions, meetings, workshops, panel discussions, and mentoring sessions dedicated to social entrepreneurship and fostering intercultural collaboration.

“Starting a new beginning as a social entrepreneur is a rewarding and noble endeavor. It will require resilience, dedication, and a deep commitment in trying to make a positive impact on the society. The RISE Journey will give young people the opportunity to make a positive difference within your societies through commitment, innovation, and the pursuit of social impact. This journey will enable them to learn and adapt as they work toward a better future for their own community and also society, as a whole.” – Andina Vllahiu, project manager at Balkan Green Foundation

At the end of the ideation chapter, each team will participate in a demonstration day organized by the local incubators. During this event, the teams will showcase their social enterprise models addressing specific social problems, highlighting their impact and sustainability. From these presentations, two exceptional business ideas will be selected to benefit from financial grants, a regional mobility program, and a regional incubation program, thereby providing them the necessary support to turn their ideas into reality.

“At Pulse Balkans, we’re embarking on RISE Journey 4, bringing on board 51 teams ready to effect change. Our expertise in social entrepreneurship, backed by the EU and AFD and in step with our local incubator partners, sets the stage for guiding our risers toward meaningful innovation.” – Saša Ćirić, Poject coordinator at PULSE Balkans.  

About RISE

This 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),Groupe SOS Pulse, South East European Youth Network (SEEYN), the Franco-German Youth Office (OFAJ), ARNO, Balkan Green Foundation, Nešto Više, Smart Kolektiv, IEC Tehnopolis and Yunus Social Business Balkans.

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