The project “Start it UP, Keep it UP” is an innovative project focused on promotion of social entrepreneurship. This project touches one of the comparing unknown fields in the youth sector and the new concept for Europe – social entrepreneurship, emphasizing the innovative feature – creation of social start-up incubators.
The project oriented to solution of social problems of communities in Europe, where young people can bring a change through a social-oriented start-ups, by equipping youth organizations with necessary capacity in order to provide young people with consulting and training on social entrepreneurship. This will not only solve different social problems in Europe, but also make young people become the main actors of change. The project inspired and provided young people with knowledge and resources in order to bring a change to their community. Besides this, it will also raise a network of young social entrepreneurs, who will continue working in a network and give solutions to social problems of Europe.
The project links to the objectives of the Erasmus+ programme by aiming at the development of cooperation between youth organisations from East and West of Europe with a specific focus on capacity development of NGOs in order to promote social entrepreneurship in Europe.
The project unites in itself 2 min components regarding young people: employment and active participation of young people in solution of community problems. Nowadays young people depend on the local context if their potentials are activated or if self- development is limited due to structural and direct forms of exclusion. This presented project wants to address this problem by offering the chance to establish social entrepreneur centres and human resources for fulfilling these needs of the local community.
The main gap that we filled by implementing the project “Start it UP, Keep it UP” was to create the spaces (HUBs) for young people to gather for starting their social start-ups and get acknowledged with social entrepreneurs for exchange of practices. As it’s known currently there are few social start-up incubators and accelerators around Europe, as the big majority of existing incubators and accelerators are focused on entrepreneurship itself, not including social entrepreneurship in it.
We saw youth organizations as the main actors in filling this gap. We believe by providing youth organizations with necessary capacity these organizations can gather social entrepreneurs and create the necessary conditions for them. This has done by training 4 mentors per organization and providing organizations with the manuals that will be developed in the end of the project for further dissemination along with the online platform for young social entrepreneurs with necessary resources. The Social Entrepreneurship Forum and organizing local trainings for future social entrepreneurs will also ensure the implementation and learning processes, putting them in parallel, so the impact will be ensured during the whole project.
The mobility activities of this project were called “Training of Mentors”. It total there were 3 training of mentors conducted during 18 month within 21 project implementation months, with 1 training in each 6 moths.
The mobility activities were aimed to provide the mentors with necessary expertise, skills, knowledge and capacity to guide and mentor the local groups. The activities were organized as interactive 7 days training courses each. The trainings were conducted using the methodology of non-formal learning. After each training participants were required to implement the tasks set during the training course (involve participants for local trainings, implement training courses, organize workshops and counselling sessions).
Between the trainings of mentors the future mentors conducted the mentioned local trainings and actively work with potential participants and future social entrepreneurs.
The mobility activities gave a triple-impact effect. First, as the direct target group, the mentors themselves were benefitted by building their capacity as future mentors. Second, the organizations were strengthening their network between each other, as during the training courses some of the sessions were dedicated to network building. Third, the participants of local training courses were benefitted indirectly, as they were provided with mentoring in order to start their own social enterprises.
During each of the mobility activity and other trips for capacity building activities, we organized a study visit to the existing social start-ups in the hosting cities. This gave a chance to build and strengthen the network among social enterprises, as well as inspire and give ideas for social start-ups.
The project “Start it UP, Keep it UP” has the following objectives and related key activities:
Objective 1: To build the capacity of youth NGOs in giving consulting for young people in social entrepreneurship.
Key activity 1: Establishment of social entrepreneur hubs in 6 countries across Europe. The hubs will gather young social entrepreneurs for networking and provide young people interested in social entrepreneurship with necessary consulting and assistance.
Key activity 2: A long-term training course for social entrepreneurship mentors with 3 physical trainings and mentorship practice phase.
Objective 2: To create a space for assessment and discussion of the impact of social entrepreneurship in decreasing unemployment and building a better environment with relevant stakeholders.
Key activity 1: “Youth Social Entrepreneurship Forum” which will be organized in Baku city and will gather 60 young people involved in social entrepreneurship and relevant stakeholders in order to discuss the role of social entrepreneurship in youth employment and social development in Europe.
Key activity 2: Study-visits to existing social enterprises in the hosting cities during the planned physical meetings of the project (advanced planning meeting, residential trainings, Forum and evaluation meeting) for exchange of best practices and visualisation of the impact of social enterprises.
Objective 3: To increase the knowledge of young people in social entrepreneurship and provide them with opportunities and tools for starting their own “social start-ups”.
Key activity 1: Long-term training courses for 120 young people in 6 countries, where they’ll identify the areas they want to work on and start running their own start-ups.
Key activity 2: Launch an online tool which will provide young people with online modules on social entrepreneurship and strengthen the network between young social entrepreneurs.
Key activity 3: Establishment of a social start-up incubator in the city of applying organization, which will ensure the sustainability of this project and create a space for social entrepreneurs to learn and practice their skills.
Key activity 4: Development of the manuals in the language of the partner countries and English version in order to provide young people with the basic information on how to start the social enterprise.