Youth Social Entrepreneurship School

Project Overview

Successful social entrepreneurs inspired, trained and guided 15 Ukrainian youth into the world of social entrepreneurship.

Identifying the Problem

While “social entrepreneurship” is increasingly popular in the United States and the United Kingdom, it is a relatively unknown and unsupported concept in Ukraine. Viewed as a high-risk business venture, the myths surrounding the dangers of starting your own business are enough to scare off those who might otherwise set out to develop a social enterprise. Yet, despite popular misconceptions about social entrepreneurship, a small group of social entrepreneurs does exist in Ukraine. In addition to informing the public about the realities of social entrepreneurship, Iuliia wanted to create a way for established social entrepreneurs to provide motivation and guidance to Ukrainian youth interested in creating their own social businesses.

Creating A Solution

Not long after being introduced to the small world of social entrepreneurship in Ukraine, Iuliia joined with a couple friends from FLEX Alumni and the Yuppie Career Portal to design a three-part program for young people who wished to become social entrepreneurs.

The first phase of the project was to organize a public event called “What is Social Entrepreneurship?” where Mykhaylo Izyumskiy, an established social entrepreneur, introduced the concept of social entrepreneurship to the general public. Approximately 40 people attended the event, and the lecture was also recorded and posted on the Facebook page Iuliia had created for the project. 

The second phase of Iuliia’s project was to go beyond simply raising awareness about social entrepreneurship and to actually empower a small group of young people who wanted to become social entrepreneurs. Iuliia wanted to provide them with the information and tools that would allow them to not only successfully pursue their own goals, but to act as multipliers among their peers. She and her partners launched a campaign calling for participants, and selected 15 young people for the project. The selected participants then attended presentations from several Ukrainian social entrepreneurs who shared the history of their own projects and enterprises, as well as ideas they had for future projects. The speakers included Anastasitya Gerets, head of Notis, which produces sound equipment that makes it safer and easier for the blind to cross the street, as well as Evhen Beloshytskiy, organizer of TEDx Kharkov. 

The final phase of the project provided the 15 participants with an opportunity to fine-tune their ideas for their own social enterprises. The participants attended training sessions that focused on creating the business model for a social enterprise and raising funds to cover the start-up costs. The training sessions also allowed the participants to present their ideas for social enterprises and receive helpful feedback. At the end of this final phase of the project, the young social entrepreneurs had developed four concrete ideas that revolved around the development of eco-tourism, increasing safety on the road for pedestrians, making understanding of business concepts more accessible for all and improving the situation of homeless animals in the city.

Lessons Learned

For Iuliia, one of the more challenging aspects of this project was the lack of motivation from some of the participants. In the future, she intends to implement a more stringent selection process, in order to ensure that the participants are all people who are truly committed to learning more about how to develop their social enterprise ideas. That being said, it is also important to keep in mind that for the participants who are eager to learn more about successfully implementing a project they are pursuing, it is not helpful to merely offer basic information and vague advice. The advice should be concrete and personal to their individual goals, and there should be an opportunity for the experts to answer their questions. “Your goal as an organizer of such a project is to meet these needs,” says Iuliia. “Participants should leave the program with a clear business plan and, perhaps, useful contacts.”

Get Involved!

Implementing this project made Iuliia realize that there is actually a high demand for this type of information and training in Ukraine. She was pleasantly surprised to learn that so many young people wanted to learn more about social entrepreneurship and that many were looking for help in starting their business. The valuable feedback she received from the participants helped her understand how the project could be improved and inspired her to continue working on ways to educate Ukraine’s youth about social entrepreneurship and inspire a new generation of social entrepreneurs. She and her partners have many ideas for future projects, such as organizing a major conference on social entrepreneurship, and would love to speak with other social entrepreneurs who are interested in lending a hand along the way. If you can recommend strong conference speakers, have access to education materials or have any other helpful ideas, feel free to contact Iuliia directly.

Funding

Iuliia and her partners raised about $200 to cover the costs of this project. The bulk of the program was either free or very inexpensive, which was achieved by encouraging speakers to share their advice for free and seeking out venues that had a reputation for hosting civil society events free of charge. Additionally, the American Councils for International Education provided free coffee breaks, and one of Iuliia’s friends shared some training materials for the project.

Awards & Recognition

Youth Social Entrepreneurship School was recognized as an extraordinary Senior Fellow project at the Fifth Annual Humanity in Action International Conference, held in Sønderborga.

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About This Project

HIA Program:

Poland Poland 2012

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