«Youth for Social and Solidarity Economy» was an innovative Erasmus+ project, promoting the good practices in the social and solidarity economy amongst European countries. This project aimed at enhancing the mobility of youth workers and youth leaders with previous experience on social economy, future youth leaders, already active or potential social entrepreneurs who are willing to share knowledge, experiences, and good practices on the theme.The Cyprus Youth Clubs Organisation- KOKEN establishing a long term partnership with the Association of Active Youths in Florina (OENEF) sent 3 young people/ youth workers at the Training Course «Youth for Social and Solidarity Economy» that took place in Florina from the 3rd to 10th of September.
The objectives for this project were:
– To become inspired social entrepreneur or change-maker;
– To understand better the term «social entrepreneurship» and to raise knowledge and gain new experiences about it;
– To start the process of creating social venture through gaining skills and knowledge for writing projects ideas and business plan;
– To gain skills and knowledge that will help to the participant to get access to labor market;
– To discover or understand better the social and environmental problems in their countries and to get to know the situation in other countries;
– To be inspired and motivated to bring changes at home and start to work for improvement.
26 young people from 8 countries (Cyprus, Greece, Spain, FYROM, Serbia, Slovenia, Italy and Malta) participated at this project exchanging their knowledge and practices with one another.
Here is how the 3 young people representing KOKEN experienced this project:
«Knowledge, interesting people, amazing experiences, fun learning approach, productivity, self-development and respect are the words that I find most suitable to characterize the project.
During the week of the event I have learned a lot about social economy and entrepreneurship in general. While attending the event I have had the chance to get familiar with an informal way of learning. It was really interesting for me as it has proven to be a way of making learning more attractive.
From the very first day the instructors made us feel comfortable with each other by pursuing creative ice-breaking games. They have managed to connect us individually as they created a team spirit between us.
When the first day was finished I felt that there were a lot to gain from the event as the day left us with a positive vibe! The second day we had, through discussion, an introduction to Social Entrepreneurship. That was a very productive method to learn as I had also developed my teamwork and communication skills.
A more practical activity of the training was our trip to Prespes as we saw a social enterprise that produces beans and how it operates in the real world. That visit was the reason of commenting and discussing in more depth about social enterprises the next days.
The thing that I enjoyed the most in our program was the debate, where we had the chance to argue and support our opinions in front of the audience. From there I have practiced skills such as public speaking, active listening, fast decision making and critical thinking. Also the knowledge that I gained from the debatable issues was really valuable. Another interesting part of the program, was the business plan process. There, we had the chance to work within small teams in order to create and present our own business plan. It was an important experience for me because I could see that process as a rehearsal for the real life when I might have to do market research and of course pitching my idea in front of real investors.
The human relations that I have created were also very crucial for me. I met and worked with people from different countries within Europe. That gave me the opportunity to learn more about their different cultures as we also found many common things to discuss. In the end, the whole process made me feel exactly like a European citizen. Moreover, the fact that now I have people to talk to which are outside my country I feel that it could open to me a lot of opportunities in the future.The connections that I’ve created made me realise even more the importance of networking .
For these amazing experiences I would like to thank KOKEN for giving me the chance to participate in a mobility program like this. I would also like to thank OENEF for the amazing host and training that they offered us in Florina. If I had to describe my whole experience with one word I would say that I feel grateful for being a part of that learning project. It was for sure a worthwhile experience»!
«A truly amazing experience! You can have the opportunity to get in touch with different cultures and mindsets, meet people from all over Europe and exchange ideas. Florina is a quiet but beautiful place to visit and the organizers are people more than professional, who gave us some valuable knowledge and practical tools that we can develop. I feel honored to participate and I appreciate that KOKEN gave me this opportunity, by choosing me».
«The «Youth for Social and Solidarity Economy» programme was a valuable and constructive experience. Being part of this programme, I acquired knowledge and experiences which will be of great help for me in the future. Being part of a team, where you can interact with people from other countries and cultures is priceless. I was part of a group where different perceptions and different ideas created great outcome. Of course, the whole experience also enriched my knowledge, concerning new concepts for me, such as social enterprises and social economy. Last but not least, Florina is a wonderful town and the local people were as friendly as could be. In conclusion, I feel very lucky for the opportunity I was given from KOKEN to participate in such a project».