Running the project through crises – social entrepreneurship for society and sustainability

Running the project through crises – social entrepreneurship for society and sustainability

Some weeks ago, the “EU4Youth – Unlocking the potential of young social entrepreneurs in Moldova and Ukraine” (in short, the EUnlocking project), co-funded by the European Union, held its closing event in Chisinau (the Republic of Moldova) under the hybrid format. The closing conference, with its theme “Running the project through crises” served as an excellent opportunity to present the results of the project, the stories of young social entrepreneurs who launched social businesses with EU support, as well as to discuss the prospects for the development of social entrepreneurship in the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. 150 participants, including 50 onsite and 100 online, attended the event.

During the implementation of the project, between February 2020 – July 2022, the project team fostered the social entrepreneurial potential of young people in the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine by establishing an ecosystem for social enterprises, as well as by supporting young social entrepreneurs to develop and sustain their innovative solutions for the promotion of social inclusion and environmental sustainability across both countries.

During 2.5 years, the EUnlocking project supported 13 young people in launching their own social enterprises, which have created new jobs for vulnerable people and contributed to solving community problems. In addition, four awareness-raising campaigns and communication activities were conducted on social entrepreneurship and its positive impact on society. Subsequently, social entrepreneurship has become a popular trend in the two targeted countries.

Moreover, the project supported young people in launching social start-ups; encouraged access to information and exchange of best practices on social entrepreneurship; strengthened the capacities of young social entrepreneurs through online training courses on related topics such as business modelling, fundraising, market analysis, financial management, marketing and promotion, etc. In addition,  the best social start-up initiatives focused on the promotion of social inclusion and environmental sustainability benefitted from funding and mentoring.

To create sustainable impacts and long-lasting knowledge, the EUnlocking project has recently launched 10 online training courses, with the support of the European Union, on various topics of social entrepreneurship in both countries. These courses will still be available after the project ends.

In the Republic of Moldova, the EUnlocking project has contributed to attracting government funding for social enterprises in Moldova, focusing on job creation, especially for people with special needs and other disadvantaged groups. As a result, vulnerable people had access to state subsidies since the beginning of 2021.

In Ukraine, the parliament confirmed social entrepreneurship would be one of their top priorities, thanks to the project’s continuous efforts with various advocacy campaigns.

Furthermore, the project has established the first regional network of social entrepreneurs, following a resolution at the International Networking Forum organised in Kyiv on 27-28 January 2022. Altogether, 12 Ukrainian educational institutions have integrated various courses on social entrepreneurship topics into their curricula. The Eco-Hub and 6 Labs provided support and assistance to more than 2,500 young people from vulnerable groups in Ukraine, delivered during the war, as well.

Despite the challenging operating environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic and then Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, the project implementation in the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine was implemented to the best extent possible and achieved a series of tangible results.

Some of the results achieved by the partners in the Republic of Moldova may be viewed in the following video, whereas a glimpse into the results produced by the partners in Ukraine is available on this link.

Ms Chau Bui – the Regional Communication Manager of the EUnlocking project shared at the event: “A famous writer from my home country- Vietnam has said: “Life arises from death, happiness manifests itself in sacrifices and hardships. There is no dead end in life, only boundaries. The essential is to have the strength to overcome the boundaries.” Today I would like to congratulate all of us, especially our Ukrainian colleagues, for the courage and durability so that our EUnlocking project has reached so many positive and inspiring results throughout the crises. Even though the EUnlocking project come to its end today, I do believe that we all together will continue to sustain social entrepreneurship’s impacts on society and for sustainability.” 

The project is implemented by the Gustav-Stresemann-Institut (e.V) (GSI) – lead organisation (Germany), AXA Management Consulting (Moldova), ECO-RAZENI Association (Moldova), Egalite International (Ukraine), National Assistance and Information Centre for NGOs in Moldova CONTACT (Moldova) and Pro NGO! e.V. (Germany). The project is co-funded by the European Union under its EU4Youth Programme.

Visible Impact has partnered with GSI to conduct several project components.