During this virtual session hosted by Euclid Network (EN) as part of the MedUP! activities, the participants explored the particularities of the social enterprise ecosystems in Turkey and Croatia.
On Thursday, 21 January, we started the new year with a new knowledge sharing meeting series for our MedUP! participants. The meeting sessions focus on the distinct ecosystems our peers and their organizations experience and interact in. A manifold and enabling ecosystem is undoubtedly of great importance for social entrepreneurs and Social Entrepreneur Supporting Organizations. Thus, exchanging knowledge on best practices, lessons learnt, and common challenges builds an essential part of MedUP!’s activities.
MedUp! is an EU-funded project which aims at promoting social entrepreneurship in Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt, OPT and Lebanon as a driver for inclusive growth and job creation. Initiated by Oxfam IT in 2018, MedUP! is now in its fourth year. This year’s key objectives encompass the exchange of skills and knowledge through peer-to-peer learning.
The session was joined by Euclid Network’s CEO Suzanne Wisse-Huiskes who gave a warm welcome to all participants and further underlined the significance of peer exchange initiatives like MedUP!. Especially in the light of the current situation, it is necessary to find flexible approaches to peer exchanges including virtual events to guarantee the continuation of learning from each other.
In this first round, we explored the entrepreneurial ecosystems in Turkey and Croatia thanks to our two presenters Onur from Istanbul Development Agency and Teo from ACT Grupa. During their insightful presentations, the speakers elaborated on the following key aspects, (a) legal framework, (b) access to funding, (c) access to market, (d) support infrastructure, and (e) access to skills.
Among various other aspects, Onur outlined Turkey’s strong interconnectedness with the country’s Eastern and Western neighbors. Especially in Istanbul, the opportunities and networks for SEs (social enterprises) are manifold with a diverse range of 157 stakeholders in 2020. Moreover, he mentioned the large number of universities, and the strong youth engagement in terms of social entrepreneurship. In fact, 47% of Turkey’s social enterprise leaders are still at a young age (under 35 years, according to a study conducted by the British Council in 2019), and 83% highly educated (Bachelors’ degree or higher).
For the Croatian case, Teo emphasized the enormous steps that have been taken in recent years in the field of social entrepreneurship. He highlighted the Strategy for Social Entrepreneurship Development 2015-2020, which was adapted in 2015, as an important milestone for the establishment of the Croatian ecosystem, as well as the country’s dedicated SE community and their strong networking and collaboration efforts. In addition to that, Teo underlined a diverse range of funding opportunities for social entrepreneurs in Croatia, including both local and foreign investors, as well as EU grant programs.
“We have a small number of players but really strong ones and working together will definitely improve all the elements of the ecosystem, as well as it will strengthen the social entrepreneurs’ position in the market.”
Together with the other participants, common challenges and opportunities for collaborations were discussed during the session. The meeting raised many interesting points and inspired further exchanges among the peers. Therefore, the group will meet again for another round of ecosystem presentations in March. Then, we will find out about the ecosystems in Jordan, Greece, and Lebanon.
Furthermore, Euclid Network is currently working on a hybrid in-person/virtual exchange model which allows for adjusting program activities on short notice in response to changing travel regulations and country-specific circumstances. The model will be presented to our participants in mid-February and is expected to be implemented from March 2021 onwards. To conclude with Onur’s words,
“We are ready to share our experience, learned from the best practices of other countries as well, for example countries especially in Europe … [B]ut, also, we would like to cooperate with the MENA region countries so we can learn from each other and […] pave the way for future collaborations.”
If you would like to find out more about the MedUp! project, please contact the team!