“Youth Entrepreneurial Spirit! (YES!)” is a youth exchange organized by the Bulgarian Youth Forum, which is acting as the coordinating and hosting organization. From 29th of May till 6 of June 2015 “YES!” will gather 30 participants from Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, the United Kingdom, Hungary and Spain in Chuprene and Belogradchik, Bulgaria, in order to provide a nine-day youth seminar. Throughout the participant selection process, strong priority will be given to offering access to vulnerable groups such as unemployed young people from rural areas, as well as young people who face social, economic, geographic, or health challenges. The project will be implemented in a rural area in Northwest Bulgaria because this is one of the poorest regions in the European Union with the highest youth unemployment rate. At the same time the municipalities of Chuprene and Belogradchik are suitable locations because they have an untapped potential for developing youth entrepreneurship, eco-tourism, and green economy.
“YES!” tackles the critical issue of youth unemployment in rural areas, stimulates unemployed young people’s mobility and empowers them for active participation in society. It fosters the understanding that entrepreneurship and self-employment offer pathways for young people to emerge from unemployment and social exclusion. It pays special attention to a socially aware, sustainable entrepreneurship model, which is closely linked to people and to local communities, and primarily aimed at contributing to the general good of society, rather than a model of entrepreneurship solely as a business venture. Throughout the project, there is a focus on real-world examples and good practices for contributing to personal development and to local economies.
YES!” promotes youth entrepreneurship as a key competence and emphasizes the importance of creativity, initiative, confidence, calculated risk-taking, organization, and resilience. The key role of the facilitator is to illustrate the benefits of entrepreneurship in rural areas and to provide the participants with the tools and resources to put their entrepreneurial ideas into effect. Alongside finding out how to start their own entrepreneurial ventures, the participants will acquire a wide range of practical skills and positive attitudes including: greater awareness of social problems and opportunities, motivation for active engagement and networking with peers, new competences and confidence to participate actively in the jobs market and society – local and wider European.
Formal qualifications do not always help young people when it comes to finding employment, solving problems, rising to challenges, assessing opportunities or taking risks. That is why “YES!” employs an effective mix of non-formal and entrepreneurial education tools, which are participant-centred and encourage active participant engagement, freedom to ask questions, creative thinking, teamwork and cooperation. The facilitator and the participants will jointly carry out a mix of workshops, exercises, debates, role plays, simulations, outdoor activities, etc. designed and prepared specifically for “YES!”.
One potential result of the activities of “YES!” is to influence for a relative reduction in youth unemployment in rural areas on a local level, linked to an increase in active entrepreneurship among young people in rural areas. This result could be driven by the advanced level of entrepreneurship competences among the participants, who could multiply the effect of their newly acquired knowledge and skills by sharing their learning experiences with their respective local communities. The most important result of “YES!” would be the start of successful entrepreneurial ventures by the participants, who could then create an international network that fosters and supports youth entrepreneurship in rural areas as an effective tool for fighting youth unemployment and social exclusion in rural areas.