Educational mobilities of mentors to Italy and Poland as part of the project "JOURNEY"

Mentors have completed two educational trips to Italy and Poland as part of the project "Joint Organization to Unite Rural Networks of Entrepreneurial Youth" - "JOURNEY", coordinated by Vinnytsia Regional Association of Local Self-Government Bodies. Twenty-one youth workers from Ukraine, Georgia, and Azerbaijan participated in these educational trips. The goal of these trips was for youth workers to strengthen mentoring skills, as well as gain knowledge, methods, and tools to support rural youth and young entrepreneurs.

During the first visit to Perugia, Italy (May 19-23), the educational programming was developed by the organization FORMA.Azione. FORMA.Azione has been developing training programs for youth and adults for many years. They also have extensive experience implementing international projects and working with ALDA, which has been facilitating cooperation between local governments and civil society for the last 20 years. The trainers for this program were experts in business, non-formal education, working with youth, public administration, agriculture, and marketing.

Throughout the week, participants worked in groups to study the methods of non-formal education when working with youth. They analyzed different economic situations using SWOT analysis, problem tree design, CANVAS+ business model and other tools.

Participants also attended session on: Region Umbria: diversification in agriculture; social innovations in business; storytelling as a tool for strategic marketing in social networks; AGRICOLUS, a platform for supporting and optimizing the work of farmers and agricultural workers (http://www.agricolus.com); social entrepreneurship; and diversification and multi-functionality in agriculture. Participants were also introduced to local businesses, Region Umbria (in particular the winery Lungarotti, https://lungarotti.it/ita) and Terre Margaritelli (http://www.terremargaritelli.com). Owners of these companies shared success stories and spoke about their cooperation with local authorities in order to promote their region through local products.

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The following month (June 23-29), mentors participated in the second educational mobility trip in Lodz Voivodship, Poland. The project’s Polish partner, the PublicaFides social trust fund, organized the training program for the same 21 youth workers from Ukraine, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, which were competitively selected and who previously participated in the project’s educational trip in Italy.

Trainers for the mentors were once again representatives of “ALDA,” the project partner from France with 20 years of experience facilitating cooperation between the local authorities and civil society.

During the week, participants continued working in groups to study methods of non-formal education when working with youth. They also improved project management skills, correct setting of problems and ways of solving them, as well as the presentation of achieved results.

Additionally, participants were able to learn more about entrepreneurship in rural areas. They visited a small sock factory, “Steven”, where the owner shared the history of his business and his management technique with program participants. Participants also visited Zrzeszenie Plantatorów owoców i Warzyw w Łowiczu (the Association of fruit and vegetable producers in Lovech) for another example of successful rural entrepreneurship. Participants met with representatives from the Center for Employment in Lodz and learned about their work to assist the local population, particularly rural youth, with employment. Lastly, participants visited the organization, Lokalna grupa działania ZEMIA ŁOWICKA, which is a bright example of work that attracts funds for community development and establishes a local brand.

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“The educational mobility trips gave me, as a mentor, the opportunity to decide the primary direction of our training and inspired new ideas for building entrepreneurial potential and supporting rural youth. During the trip, we saw a lot of interesting examples of small and medium-sized enterprises in the countryside that we would like to share with our youth and explain the details of their function and prosperity,” mobility trip participant and project mentor, Irina Leznivska, shared her impressions.

“During my visit to Italy, the introduction to Italian businesses and the use of existing resources was extremely interesting to me. All at the same time is simple and creative, it is necessary to look around only. I was also impressed by the approach to creating a brand and its history. I will be sure to offer these options to our potential entrepreneurs during their training. Cooperation between government, community and business is indicative in Poland. They have a completely different approach to the development of territories and it would be useful for us to borrow from their experience. I also learned from the Poles not to be afraid to take a chance, and to use all the opportunities and resources available,” says Viktoriya Zakharchuk, a mentor of the project.

Shakar Asgarova, a mentor from Azerbaijan, shared her enthusiasm for the mobility trips and her participation in the project. “Firstly, I want to emphasize the importance of this project for me. Today I got a chance to do an internship at a company of the Ministry of Agriculture. And my experience with JOURNEY had a lot of impact on that. In addition, it was a great opportunity for me to take part in such a project. Finally, I would like to note that it was also a great pleasure to see Italy and Poland. Thank you for everything.

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For reference: The project of the Vinnytsia Regional Association of Local SelfGovernment Bodies, “Joint Organization to Unite Rural Networks of Entrepreneurial Youth – JOURNEY,” is being implemented in the framework of the ERASMUS+ program in partnership with the Regional Development Agency of Vinnytsia and community organizations as well as the bodies of local self-government and executive authorities from Poland, Italy, Azerbaijan, France and Georgia.

The aim of the project is to reduce unemployment and promote the development of entrepreneurial potential of rural youth in the Eastern Partnership countries. During the project, specialists working with youth from Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Georgia will develop mentoring skills (mentoring program), as well as knowledge, methods and tools for supporting rural youth and young entrepreneurs.

In addition, rural youth and mentors (specialists working with youth) will be trained in Poland and Italy where they will raise their entrepreneurial education and become familiar with youth initiatives led by Italian and Polish rural youth. They will also see examples of successful youth entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, and youth support programs in European Union countries.

One of the elements of the project implementation will be the creation of a training platform in four languages (Ukrainian, Georgian, Azerbaijani, and English), which will become a platform for training and communication between project participants and mentors.

Also within the framework of the project, Clubs of Young Entrepreneurs will be established as a cooperation with the authorities and youth workers. These clubs will become a platform for the dissemination of experience and will help increase the number of beneficiaries from rural areas after the completion of the project.

This project is funded with the support of the European Commission. This publication only reflects the views of the authors, the Commission is not responsible for any use of the information contained therein.