MedUP! is a project co-funded by the European Commission which aims at promoting an enabling environment in the Southern Mediterranean partner countries (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia) for the development of the social enterprise sector as a driver for inclusive growth and job creation.
The MedUP! Project is in its fourth and final year. Apart from the second round of Peer Exchanges and the continuing virtual meeting sessions, Euclid Network has planned a variety of activities for the months to come to further strengthen the social enterprise ecosystems in the project countries. This article provides you with an overview of our three key priorities for the fourth project year.
MENA-EU Peer Exchanges
After we were forced to cancel all in person activities in 2020, we are delighted to finally be able to proceed with the MedUP! Peer Exchanges. The MedUP! Peer Exchanges provide a platform for knowledge exchange between senior staff of social enterprise support organisations (SESOs) from the MENA region and the EU. The first round, in which the EU peers traveled to their exchange partners, already took place in January and February 2020 (See Article I & II for more info). The return round was initially planned for March 2020 but had to be postponed due to COVID-19.
Due to the long pause between the exchanges, the SESO representatives are given the opportunity to either proceed with the same exchange partner as last year or to team up with another peer. Once decided, the participants will prepare the exchange activities and agenda with the support of the country-specific PMUs*. This time we have encouraged the peers to integrate virtual activities to the exchange activities, especially prior to the face-to-face exchanges. Like that, the 6 days of in-person exchange can be used for more in-depth working sessions and to introduce the culture and ecosystem of the host country to the visitor. Due to the continuous uncertainty in regards to mobility restrictions, there is no strict time frame in which the exchanges should take place. However, we hope to start with the first exchanges in May already.
*PMUs (or Project Management Units) are the units of local implementation partners in the project countries. They are comprised of the OXFAM country office together with a local implementation partner; among them, Enactus Morocco, JOHUD Jordan, PARC Palestine, Tunisian Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, SEKEM Egypt.
Social Enterprise Ecosystem Overview
Based on the feedback of our partners and participants, EN focuses on promoting national networking activities for the second half of the project year. According to the feedback provided and the findings of the needs assessment that EN conducted in 2019,
- breaking silos between key actors in the ecosystem
- increasing the visibility of social entrepreneurship
- and fostering partnerships and collaborations between them
are still considered as key challenges to the sustainable growth of the SE sector in the region. Therefore, EN intends to bring together various SESOs and other relevant stakeholders in a series of national events. The thematic focus of these events lies on developing a clearer understanding of the SE ecosystem of each project country. This follows up on the ecosystem studies that were conducted by our project partner DIESIS and the national PMUs in the previous years of the MedUP! project and could lay the foundation for establishing a comprehensive and continuously growing SE overview or index for the region. This overview could then serve as the reference place for SEs and SESOs to connect, collaborate and raise awareness for the sector. The local partner organisations and EN see a considerable potential in building a sustainable infrastructure that can be maintained by the local SESOs also after the end of the project period.
MENA Boot Camp
A multi-day Boot Camp is planned for the end of 2021 in one of the MENA partner countries and will bring together a diverse range of SESOs and SEs from the project countries, the European SESO participants of the Peer Exchanges, as well as additional stakeholders from the MENA region (provided that travel restrictions allow). It will combine and interconnect a variety of themes, including networking activities, peer group discussions on ecosystem developments, scaling and the development of the before-mentioned SE overview. It will also allow the Peer Exchanges participants to come together and reflect on their experiences and learning outcomes.
Overall, EN considers the Boot Camp as an ideal space to reflect on the meso level activities of the four years of MedUP!, as well as to bring together those national impact-driven leaders who will further strengthen the ecosystem after the MedUP! Project is over.
If you would like to find out more about the MedUp! project, please contact the team!