#BeTheChange: Promoting the entrepreneurial culture among the youth: opportunities and challenges

29 September 2021

The Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE), with the support of the Hanns Seidel Foundation and in partnership with Privesc.Eu and Realitatea TV, organized on Tuesday, September 28, 2021, the 4th online event within the #BeTheChange initiative, dedicated to promoting the entrepreneurial culture among the youth. This event was conceptualized by the participants of the #InternshipIPRE2021 and #YoungFellowsIPRE2021 programmes.

The speakers of this event, moderated by Valeria Lembas – intern at IPRE’s Good Governance and Europeanization programme, spoke about the economic policies and opportunities for youth regarding social entrepreneurship in light of the cooperation between the Republic of Moldova and the European Union, about the development of the financial education programmes for youth from the Republic of Moldova, but also about the current situation regarding the status of the social enterprises and the good practices that can be implemented by the Republic of Moldova.

Please find below the main contributions of our speakers.

Benjamin Bobbe, regional representative of the Hanns Seidel Foundation in Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Romania: “Happy to be here, I say this because I am always happy when it comes to small groups of leaders that are involved in processes that benefit not only themselves, but also benefit the society, that is what I see in #BetheChange. Internationally, as you might know, the Hanns Seidel Foundation is active in more than 70 countries. Generally, development cooperation and international cooperation are very much focused on institutions. We are always talking about institutions, the value and the importance of institutions. And that is the case, institutions matter, definitely. But, it is also the people that matter. To us, at the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the human resource is the most important resource. You have to carry it, to look after it and develop it. That is why we are very active, not only working on topics of rule of law, with all the institutions, but also on leadership. Leadership is a key component that could bring the society forward, be it in Germany, be it in the European Union, be it in Moldova or be it in Latin America, where I was working before more specifically, Columbia and Venezuela. In every country where I was active and where we as Hanns Seidel Foundation work, we find excellent people that are willing to be agents of change based on values, based on moral compass and that is why this project is so marvelous and that is why I am happy to be with you and we are all happy to work with you on these issues. Human talent is the most important talent”.

Iulia Costin, General Director of the Organization for the Development of Small and Medium Enterprises Sector (ODIMM): “Only 18% of young people aged between 15-24 are employed in the labour force in the Republic of Moldova and only 42% are employed in the 25-29 age group. Out of the total number of the country’s citizens who are inactive, 328 thousand, aged between 15 and 29, are included in the statistics as NEET (they are not working, not studying, not attending vocational trainings). ODIMM currently has 12 support programmes in place for all the categories of young people. Over the years, ODIMM has developed and implements numerous programmes, projects and support tools, which aim at integrating young people from the Republic of Moldova into the economic circuit, by developing their entrepreneurial skills and offering financial support, for launching and developing sustainable businesses. Out of the total number of beneficiaries of the support programmes managed by ODIMM, over 45% represent the youth”.

Elena Nofit, Communication Expert, Contact Centre: “Our centre has launched several programmes for the development of social entrepreneurship in the Republic of Moldova, driven by the needs of the civil society and especially of the young people. Recently, a project was launched to harness the potential of young entrepreneurs from Moldova and Ukraine and is running simultaneously in these two countries. The focus has been on young people because, according to a study, social entrepreneurship is not known among young people, since they do not have access to information, they do not know about the existing opportunities. So we decided to come up with programmes to address these needs. Information campaigns were launched, the media was involved and developed an interest in writing about social entrepreneurship. In order to stimulate social business initiatives, the centre has launched a call for proposals, exclusively for young people, which is still open for applications.”

Dumitru Stoica, member of the administrative bureau, National Youth Council of Moldova (CNTM): “Every day, young people become more and more involved, which is also due to youth programmes. Youth centres focus on identifying the needs of the  young people and finding solutions based on those needs, so that it is appealing for youth to get involved.“

Sergiu Gurău, Founder of „Floare de cireș”, Executive Director of the „Eco-Răzeni” Association: “If we are talking about the legal framework, the model we have been promoting for 8 years now has also served a little to build the legal framework in the Republic of Moldova. Somehow, our team has been one of the main actors in promoting the development of the legal framework. I understand that this is not the most important element of the ecosystem, but in the relationship with the public authorities, if we want support from the state, it is essential to also have a legal framework that regulates this very new field. The association has decided to create a business in the food sector, with support from grants. It started with seven employees, now there are 23, more than 50% of whom are young people either with disabilities or from disadvantaged families. About half a million lei was lost in the pandemic, but we have done our best to keep the employees, using subsidies from the state. We tried to be an example, to show that it is possible to develop social entrepreneurship in Moldova”.

Marina Albu, President of the Board of the National LEADER Network in the Republic of Moldova, Solidarity Fund PL in Moldova: “The LEADER network has been acting as a rural development mechanism of the European Union, and we have over 30 years of experience. In Moldova, it has been working since 2017. I would like to mention from the experience of our organization, it is important that when conceptualizing support programmes for young people, it is not just about training, because it is best when the practice comes hand in hand with theory. The best thing is that those with an initiative, with vision, those who are making an effort, should receive actual support, for purchasing equipment, for the implementation of that dream or that project idea. If we only focus on capacity building, we will not achieve the desired outcome”.

Alexandr Burdian, National School of Political and Administrative Studies, Romania: “Social entrepreneurship has become an extremely important concept for the European social economy. More specifically, the social economy is a theoretical basis that provides certain values and principles according to which some kind of reality should be developed in a state or a community. These principles are based on solidarity, the primacy of people over capital and democratic and participatory governance. We can already see that the European Union is an excellent source for the Republic of Moldova in the field of social entrepreneurship. We have identified three segments on which the EU-Republic of Moldova cooperation is focused. The first and the most important area of cooperation is the financial support that the European Union offers to the Republic of Moldova. Secondly, the experience of the European Union offers certain directions along which the field of social entrepreneurship can be developed. Finally, we have identified another area of cooperation that facilitates the dialogue between several actors in the region, thus facilitating an exchange of views and good practices”.

Cătălina Plinschi, „Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University, Romania: “Stimulating entrepreneurial thinking right from school should be one of the basic pillars for promoting entrepreneurship in society. The introduction of such a subject, which is related to entrepreneurial education in schools, is necessary in order to develop attitudes, skills and knowledge of successful entrepreneurial behaviour. The cooperation between the educational institutions and private companies in the field of social entrepreneurship, organizing visits to private companies owned by young people and providing internships in these companies are also particularly important.“

For more details, you can watch the video recording of the event on privesc.eu and on rlive.

The event was organized within the project „BetheChange: Youth for the Europeanization process of the Republic of Moldova”, implemented by IPRE, in cooperation with the Hanns Seidel Foundation in the Republic of Moldova and with the financial support of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany.


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