The impressions from the TC “Entrepreneurial Knowledgebase”

The training course within the Mobility of Youth Workers “Entrepreneurial Knowledgebase”, co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme, KA2 – Capacity building Western Balkan Youth Window was hosted in Serbia in May 12- 19,2016 by Centre for education and society advancement (CEUD) in Vrnjačka Banja. 30 participants from NGOs from 9 European countries took part in the activity – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey and United Kingdom. The main topic of the training course is entrepreneurial education and the project promotes awareness of the opportunities and challenges of business and entrepreneurship.

On the arrival day, the programme started with some ice-breaking games for the facilitation of the first group meeting and enabling participants to meet each other.

The second day was dedicated to detailed presentation of the programme, its aims and objectives and further building of the group dynamics. The participants agreed upon general working rules, shared their expectations and possible contributions and got to know each other closer. The afternoon started with visit to the Belimarkovic Culture Castle. Once a summer house of an influential Serbian general, Jovan Belimarković, a royal regent when king Aleksandar Obrenović was under-age, today it is a Native museum with archeological, ethnographical, historical, art and natural collection. The general had an entrepreneurial spirit – he initiated the construction of the water supply system in Vrnjacka Banja, as well began to develop and turn the town into a modern health resort. Discovering of the entrepreneurial past of former residents, continues on the streets of Vrnjacka Banja. Using the tool Business map, in international groups the participants talked to people about their needs. What services they lack in the town? What products can’t they find? What problems do they have? Finally, they prepared presentations with the proposed solutions. The aim of this activity was to stress the proper needs’ analysis, as well as the direct communication with the target group.

On the third day the participants presented the local realities in their countries regarding the youth unemployment, economic systems, number of entrepreneurial businesses, support measures from the government, youth NGOs. The presentations revealed that the countries share similar challenges but that importance of entrepreneurship is recognized as a growth factor of economies of all 9 participating countries. In the afternoon, the participants stepped into the shoes of different people from our societies (from facing different types of obstacles, till reaping all the benefits of a high position in a society). For this purpose the simulation game – Step forward- was used. This allowed the participants to realize how often we take people around us for granted and that often we are unaware of prejudice and stereotypes we have towards other. The second afternoon session was dedicated to the presentation of Erasmus+ programme and Erasmus+ for Young Entrepreneurs, their features and opportunities they provide to young people and new entrepreneurs interested to enlarge their knowledge and gain intercultural competence.

On the fourth day, the participants from Serbia, Hungary and Montenegro shared their real-life experience on running a business. The presentations were honest, motivating and inspiring. In the afternoon, following the personal business intros, the programme continued with the exploration of entrepreneurial competences. The participants explored and reflected on the topic of personal values, attitudes and qualities that one has to possess in order to be a successful entrepreneur. The overall conclusion was that open-mindedness, flexibility, initiative and hard work are among the essential qualities.

On the fifth day, the programme dealt further with the entrepreneurial topic. Business plan and Business canvas model were presented as tools for developing business idea and exploring all the important elements of starting own business. The understanding of these tools is essential for youth workers who work on empowering unemployed youth to start own business. As a result of this activity, 5 new business idea were drafted by the participants: one in the field of sustainable development and building, one in international trade of goods and services, one in the field of food & drinks industry, one in fashion and education, one in consultancy in the field of social inclusion and intercultural learning, one in railway transportation. In the afternoon session, the participants were introduced to the concept of non-formal learning and tools for its recognition. Youthpass as an instrument for the recognition of non-formal learning process was presented in details.

On the sixth day, the participants engaged into the framework of youth exchanges: the non-formal learning mobility activity, objectives and target groups set under the Erasmus+ Programme, phases, learning process, etc. Divided into international groups, the participants worked together on developing youth exchange idea and grasped the idea of how the youth exchange that will be implemented in autumn 2016 under this project will look like. In the afternoon, a visit to Youth Office Vrnjacka Banja was organized. The coordinator and vice-coordinator in a rather informative session presented how this municipality body was established, challenges and misunderstanding it faced at first, projects they have done and future plans.

On the seventh working day, after the relaxation in the famous spa centre of Vrnjacka Banja on the previous evening, the participants finalized their youth exchange project proposals and presented them. New partnerships are already in sight! Prior to the final evaluation, dissemination teams were created and as a result the following products were produced: PowerPoint presentation, Blog article, Video clip, Photo Album.

The activities were complemented with cultural coffee breaks – the informal activity that allowed the participants to experience different customs and traditions connected to coffee breaks in each respective country. The participants travelled back to time to taste the coffee in first Serbian ‘kafana”, learnt about Hungarian coffee culture, tasted indispensable Italian espresso, British butter cookies, etc.

CEUD is proud of hosting a group of young professionals who were very active, eager to share their knowledge and experience, open to new cultures. The participants improved their entrepreneurial skills, team building skills, creative thinking, facilitation and communication skills thus contributing to the fulfillment of the activities objective. New partnerships and friendships have been formed and the positive atmosphere that even managed to pertain despite the rainy weather promises for new quality activities in the future.