The EU4Youth project has launched six Social Entrepreneurship Labs and Eco Hubs in Vinnytsia, Dnipropetrovsk, Zhytomyr, Kirovohrad, Ternopil and Cherkasy oblasts of Ukraine. The labs will support social business initiatives and test the innovations of social entrepreneurs to increase their competitiveness.
The initiative is part of the EU4Youth - Unlocking the potential of young social entrepreneurs in Moldova and Ukraine (EUnlocking) project, which held a series of online kick-off meetings with the managers and relevant stakeholders of the new Labs and Eco Hubs from 21-28 April.
The labs will follow the ‘one-stop-shop’ principle and provide comprehensive services to both experienced social entrepreneurs and newcomers. Services include legal and financial consulting, marketing and business scaling, psychological and methodological support, promotion, mentoring and development of ecological initiatives of social enterprises.
They will address the following challenges: insufficient networking and communication between social enterprises and stakeholders, limited access to mentoring and financial instruments and capacity building. These obstacles have been undermining many innovative business ideas. In addition, the labs will help to connect social enterprises with their potential clients and investors and resolve the problem of access to capital for social entrepreneurs.
The Eco Hub is a space to share eco-initiatives and green ideas. It will consult social entrepreneurs about how to make a business more friendly to nature.
"Social entrepreneurs can have it all when approaching Labs and Eco Hubs. Furthermore, it is particularly important to have an opportunity to get the answers to many questions in one place,” said Volodymyr Vasilevsky, the head of Ternopil Regional Development Agency, adding: “Currently, social entrepreneurs have to migrate from project to project to get all the support they need, and the precious time for development is lost. Having all in one - both support and information - definitely is an advantage and a crucial point for social entrepreneurs. Moreover, the competitiveness of social enterprises is essential, and addressing this issue is highly important for the development of social entrepreneurship."
During the year, the labs plan to engage 500 persons in social business, and support existing social enterprises.
The EUnlocking project helps to foster the social entrepreneurial potential of young people in Moldova and Ukraine by establishing a favourable ecosystem for social enterprises, as well as by inspiring and supporting more young social entrepreneurs to develop and sustain their innovative solutions to the promotion of social inclusion and environmental sustainability across both countries.
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