Erasmus+ youth exchange “Make it Rural” took place in Kaunas, Lithuania, on 23th of April – 1st of May, 2019. The mobility gathered 36 participants coming from Lithuania, Turkey, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Austria. Priority was given to those who were motivated & excited about rural entrepreneurship. This project aimed to raise awareness about entrepreneurship in rural areas, provide youth with the skills on how to identify the business opportunities that exist in rural areas & develop new ideas.
The inspiration for the Project
Marginalized youth living in European rural areas have a problem getting good jobs & continued education to get ahead in life and contribute to society. They’re facing unemployment & they don’t know how to get out of their situation. Starting a business in rural areas would be a great solution for them. This project aims to raise awareness about entrepreneurship in rural areas, provide youth with the skills on how to identify the business opportunities that exist in rural areas & develop new ideas.
Objectives of the Project
- to introduce participants to the essentials of entrepreneurship in rural areas & how to share the knowledge with the other marginalized youth;
- to coach the youth on how to create sustainable businesses in rural areas, and the key skills needed for that;
- to generate new business ideas that will work well in rural areas of participating countries & show examples of successful businesses in rural areas to inspire them;
- to create businesses that include the unemployed/underpriviledged communities living in rural areas, thus decreasing rural unemployment & building accountability for the community;
- to create a spill-over effect by inspiring other communities to contribute to the established businesses or to create new businesses in rural areas themselves.
36 active people from 6 different countries came to the youth exchange which was held in Kaunas, Lithuania. During the youth exchange, youth have learned how to plan a business using proven methodologies and tools. They also learned how to come up with good ideas for businesses in rural areas, how to identify problems to solve and what is the best way to turn that solution into a self-sustaining business.
The activities for the actions were carefully planned together with young participants and target audiences. They were formed in such a way that participants would be involved as much as possible to the creation and implementation of them. These included:
- World cafe discussion sessions: Benefits of entrepreneurship in rural areas, discussion about the potential of entrepreneurship in rural areas, ways to promote entrepreneurship in rural areas.
- Country workshops. Participants presented rural business examples that are unique in their country. This helped inspire & motivate the youth to be entrepreneurs in their rural areas.
- Visiting a business in rural area – participants visited local entrepreneur in rural area.
- “Red paper clip” challenge: making exchanges of things with random people in Kaunas city. This improved their teamwork, negotiation, initiative & other key skills needed for entrepreneurship in rural areas.
- Myths about entrepreneurs: getting to know what myths and stereotypes exist about rural entrepreneurs and breaking them with true facts.
- Waste gold: creating & crystalizing ideas for new rural enterprises in teams
- Creative Marketing Strategies for Rural Businesses / Visiting Farmers’ Market
- Effective Communication Session: how to send your message clearly to others?
During one of the activity participants in mixed groups had to design creative marketing strategies for farmers’ businesses. So they visited farmers’ market and shot meaningful videos in order to promote rural entrepreneurs. Thus, this interesting workshop revealed the potential of starting businesses in rural areas and the benefits of it, as well as boosted the participants’ motivation, creativity & cultural awareness.
Project “Make it Rural” proved to be a success. This mobility promoted a new attitude towards entrepreneurship in rural areas. The participants learned how to generate ideas effectively in teams, polish them and then turn them into practice. They also got the needed knowledge on how to write a business plan and improve their understanding of the key business parts, including vision and mission, company values, long-term strategy, marketing, sales, public relations, budget and financing. They also understood how businesses in rural areas can be used as a vehicle to reduce youth unemployment and be an inspiration to other youth.
Parallel to that, skills such as cultural awareness were acquired as people from diverse backgrounds were learning and mingling together. All the participants have learned how to discuss with others, express their opinion and views to a large audience, present credible arguments, as well as get more self-esteem. Of course, as participants have learned about the reasons behind youth unemployment and the skills that are required to reduce it – they became more socially aware themselves. Finally, they have also learned how to effectively use YouthPass, set objectives, assess personal knowledge and make reflections.