The second regional RISE forum was held in Tirana image

The second regional RISE forum was held in Tirana

After the end of the second RISE journey and in light of the start of the third, from September 6-8, 2022 in Tirana-Albania the regional forum for social entrepreneurship was held. The most relevant actors and stakeholders of the entrepreneurial ecosystem from the Western Balkans and Europe were present at the event: central and local government institutions from the region, international development institutions, non-governmental organizations, social entrepreneurs, the academic community, experts, mentors, and of course our RISE teams.

The second regional RISE Forum focused on the importance of developing support mechanisms and legal frameworks to encourage social entrepreneurship as a powerful instrument for social and economic development in the region.

“We came back from Tirana with good impressions, contacts, and ideas for collaborations. We are also back with handmade bags with the RISE logo from the RISE team, some organic social enterprise soaps, and delicious marmalades. Our RISE teams (Ana Marija CAMP, Maria Burgieva O-Krug, and Katerina Yes For Less) performed well. I had the chance to give the opening speech in front of the panel where representatives from ministries and decision-makers spoke. With our representative – Mr. Enver Huseijn (Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Policy) we discussed the future of social entrepreneurship in our country and I am glad that the RISE project has gained another friend and supporter,” said Irina Janevska, president of ARNO.

Within this forum, panel discussions, debates on the development of social entrepreneurship, as well as presentations by RISE teams on their social businesses with the youth of the region were held. The three-day event was supported by the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany.

“The forum was an excellent opportunity to establish communication and cooperation with the most important actors in the social economy of the Western Balkans. Once again, the forum let us know that the countries of the Western Balkans are facing similar challenges and problems that can be addressed through the available mechanisms for regional cooperation supported by the European Union. Young social entrepreneurs should be the center of this cooperation. Young people with their innovation and creativity are the bearers of positive changes and the new, modern narrative for the region. It is a pleasure to see how the ideas of young RISErs grew into something more and bring the potential to be successful social enterprises and positive stories in the region”. – said Marjan Icoski, program manager at ARNO and coordinator of the RISE project

The RISE project was launched in 2019 and has already supported 92 teams consisting of 258 young people from the Western Balkans in the development of their social business ideas. Participants attended numerous workshops, individual sessions, and a mentoring program. 24 teams were awarded with financial grants of €2,500 and a regional incubation program. The RISE project recently received a three-year extension and will support at least 350 young people from the region in the coming period.

The RISE project is developed and monitored by a consortium composed of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO), GROUPE SOS Pulse, South East European Youth Network (SEEYN), Institut Francais, and the Franco-German Youth Office (OFAJ), and implemented by six local incubators: ARNO, Balkan Green Foundation, Nesto vise, Smart Kolektiv, IEC Tehnopolis and Yunus Social Business. This project is co-funded by the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO).

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