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Supporting youth entrepreneurship in Western Balkans

Western Balkans startups supported via programme assistance of the Foreign Office and British Council.

Supporting Youth Enterpreneurship in the Western Balkans
Supporting Youth Entrepreneurship in the Western Balkans

British Council Macedonia hosted 26 November regional conference designed to bring together young entrepreneurial minds and representatives from different institutions and organisations in one place with one leading goal – to increase policy and decision-makers knowledge as well as awareness of existing practices, policies, business supportive environments through best practices in youth entrepreneurship. During the event relevant speakers from all participating countries from the Western Balkans and from the UK presented their own experiences in four themes: Entrepreneurship in educational reforms, Government policies and measures, Business incubators perspective and The role of youth networks and organisations.

Our ambassador Charles Garrett shared the panel with Macedonian Education Minister Abdulaqim Ademi, Eleonora Zaprova, Director of British Council Macedonia and Helen Silvester, Director of Education Wider Europe at the British Council. He said:

Entrepreneurship, especially among young people, will play a big role in building up the countries of this region. Just as it does in the UK and in economies across our continent. So this is a very valid and contemporary discussion. And an event which gathers participants from different countries in the region is especially welcome. It gives everyone a chance to learn from others, with different ideas and perspectives. And it provides another opportunity to build and strengthen contacts and networks across this region, something that everyone agrees is central to a prosperous and stable future.

You may ask why Britain has decided to get involved. The answer is clear. In the bigger picture, Britain – like other countries – wants to build stability and prosperity in the Balkans to support your continued development towards the European Union and NATO. This is a long-term project. It will require difficult reforms in education, in law, in the labour market and elsewhere. It will demand great energy, not just from people in government, but from business, from schools, from individuals. It will take perseverance. And while it is you, and the people of the region, who will do this, we want to support you throughout. We want to be your partners in a collaboration that benefits both Britain and the countries of the region. A project like this one will make an important contribution.

Although we come from different countries, the challenges for youth are the same. Across Europe, including Britain, up to half of the youth population is struggling with the challenge of finding employment so they can build their lives. Young people from the Balkans are no different. They may live in different countries, yet they share common challenges.

Youth entrepreneurship is high on the regional agenda as a means to boost competitiveness, employment and jobs. That is why this project focus is primarily on support to young entrepreneurs in the Western Balkans to improve their business and digital skills, through education and training.

The project is implemented by the British Council Macedonia and supported by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office until March 2016.

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Published 27 November 2015