7th Strategy Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region – Vision 2030
Title of Seminar: Is youth social entrepreneurship the solution for sustainable rural areas?
Name of Seminar Organiser: Seed Money facility BYSED project, Coompanion Kalmar & BS NGO Network
Name of Seminar Rapporteur: Maja Bradaric
Time: 10:40 – 12:00
Young people of Baltic Sea Region detected a very important issue – lack of youth interest in staying in rural areas. Rural areas in countries of the region are slowly losing their inhabitants, mostly because of the economic reasons. Young people are leaving their homes in order to get education, and afterwards they stay in bigger cities, because they see no perspective in the places where they are coming from. On the other hand, even the young people who are not leaving for school, leave because there are no enough jobs in rural areas. This is a big problem, because it can lead to complete disappearance of villages. On a panel discussion and workshop that was held, participants tried to answer some of the very important questions of how to inspire rural youth and how to improve their life.
Speakers of the panel discussion were Jaap Aps, chairman of the Estonian Social Enterprise Network, Matti Makela from UBC Task Force on Youth Unemployment and Well – being, Niklas Björkegren from organization “We are the Young” and Marianne Blückert from Coompanion Kalmar. They think that development of youth social entrepreneurship would be a perfect motivation for young people to stay in rural areas, since it will give them the opportunities to create their lives, as well as to contribute to the community development. In order to do that, decision makers should prioritize youth, listen to what they want and need, and give them tools they need to implement their ideas and projects. So far, youth in Baltic Sea region was not really included in any decision-making processes. Decision-makers need to make rural areas fashionable for young people, and to know how to do it, they should stop continuously leaving them out. As one of the most important points, decentralization of the school system was mentioned, since schools, especially higher levels of education are connected with cities.
The other part of this seminar was the World café workshop, where all participants had the opportunity to discuss the topic and answer following questions: 1. How can we shape entrepreneurial mindsets among youth in order to increase the prosperity of the Baltic Sea region in 2030., 2. What are current formats and methods for youth education related to social entrepreneurship, 3. Can youth social entrepreneurship be a solution to combat youth unemployment in the rural areas of the Baltic Sea Region, 4. What is the best way for rural youth to make local decision makers listen to them, 5. What possibilities are there for rural youth to make an impact in your local area and What possibilities for more youth involvement are there within your field? What benefits would that grant you? After discussion, participants came out with following ideas: Young people should start to learn very early about social entrepreneurship in their formal education. Nowadays, mostly NGO’s are doing this, while communities and school systems don’t prioritize these topics. Young people should learn how to start projects and how to succeed, but they should also learn about possible failures. Local community should be presented as a resource with inexhaustible possibilities. Also, it is very important to make it bureaucratically easy for young people to start their own projects. To make that and all the other things possible, all participants shared the opinion that youth should be listened to more, which is not a case so far. This can be changed through the local youth councils, which should communicate between local youth and the decision-makers, and in the end have their representatives among the decision -makers. All of this is valuable, not only for young people, but for the whole communities, because it will bring more life into the rural areas and make rural areas more attractive and more usable for everyone.