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Balkans, RISE
The RISE consortium aims to make social engagement of young people a central focus of reconciliation efforts in the Western Balkans. Predominantly funded by the Agence Française de Développement, RISE recently published a study on the current state of social entrepreneurship in these six countries. The study offers guidelines for providing the best possible support to young agents of change in their communities.

A regional study conducted by two researchers, Teo Petricevic and Jelena Andjelic, reveals that none of the six countries in the Western Balkans has a specific legal status for social enterprises; they operate mainly in the form of associations, cooperatives or limited liability companies. 

Funding opportunities come mainly in the form of grants and start-up investments. Although investor networks have been actively involved in developing entrepreneurship in some of the six countries, there are no extensive programs for private investment in social enterprises. This new study also demonstrates that young entrepreneurs are motivated by a sense of freedom and independence and the opportunity to be agents of change, by being given access to training and valuable work experience. 

In more general terms, the document provides the most recent, relevant and concise information on the current situation in terms of social and youth entrepreneurship in the Western Balkans. “This information will help to broaden our understanding of not only the needs of young entrepreneurs, but also the skills that must be developed to become one,” says Dominique Hautbergue, Director of AFD’s Western Balkans Regional Office.

Strengthening ties through entrepreneurship, social initiatives and innovation 

The RISE project has been granted €500,000 by AFD to strengthen ties among the six countries in the Western Balkans, particularly through youth entrepreneurship. The project is being implemented by Groupe SOS Pulse, in collaboration with AFD, with the aim of rolling-out a regional support program for social entrepreneurship for young people. This program is helping entrepreneurs to develop innovative solutions to overcome challenges identified within their communities, including economic inclusion and the strengthening of social ties between and within countries.

The main partners working on the project are the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) and the South East European Youth Network (SEEYN). The French Institute and the Franco-German Youth Office (OFAJ) have also been providing support. France and Germany strongly support this project as well as the RYCO office, developed on the OFAJ model. 

Developing a new regional dynamic is essential for the six countries of the Western Balkans, if they are to continue reconciliation efforts and move forward with the process of integration into the European Union. AFD is fully committed to working together with these countries to achieve this goal.

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