Philanthropy of Green Ideas (PGI) (rebranded to “Balkan Green Ideas” from 2020) is a regional project run by the Balkan Green Foundation, with support from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s (USA) under their Western Balkans Program. BGI aims to stimulate and encourage innovation for green business ideas at a local level and explore the role of philanthropy. This is done by engaging local communities to generate green business ideas that utilize local resources and revitalize disappearing, traditional production chains and community-based markets.
The competition is a gathering of the best 21 national finalists from Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia (3 winners from each country).
The competition works through a structured and verified criteria, including a process that ensures transparent selection of the winning ideas. This initiative has the goal to support green ideas nationally and aims to reach out to the most marginalized rural areas. This is guided by the goal to inspire and encourage more communities, groups and/or individuals that have original and innovative ideas to start small, green and social businesses. More info about the Open Calls and all details regarding the national competition can be found at www.zeleniidei.mk, and regional information can be found here www.balkangreenideas.com.
In total, with everything up to date, 70 000 USD has been invested for the establishment and support of green and social businesses in North Macedonia through the management and successful running of the project. All awarded entities are monitored and evaluated by ARNO and further exposed to capacity building, tailored consultancy and participation in programs for networking, matching and additional market exposure.
Highlights: In 2015, when ARNO started administering the national competition, North Macedonia got its first regional winner, the Good Earth Cooperative. In 2016, the Macedonian Green Idea, again, won at the regional competition – “SPIN” (Marta Mojsova, a young architect doing upcycling of furniture). In 2017, the competition resulted with two Macedonian regional winners: “Eco Illusions” (Kristian Shopov, magician that uses edutainment) and “Food for Everyone” (platform for sales of last-minute food). In 2019, 2 Awards on the Regional Competition were given to the Macedonian startups: “Challenger” (a mobile app that encourages people to collect green steps and receive awards), and “Bio Smart Rice” (rice grown on dry soil, production that cuts inputs and environmental risks, run by organic farmers from Kochani). In 2020, a regional award was given to the Macedonian competitor- Wise group for the idea of using circular economy to produce nutritious additive from a waste product-grape pomace.