SEYW Project: 1st staff training event in Cagliari, June 2019

SEYW project, our first training in Cagliari, June 2019

In February Art Square asbl, together with five like-minded partner organisations from other countries around Europe (Italy, France, Luxembourg, Estonia, Bulgaria, Greece), started an exciting new project, intended to examine how the practices and ethos of social entrepreneurship can be of value in the field of youth work.

The project, support by Erasmus+ and set to run for two years, commenced with a week-long conference and the first training event that took place between the 10th and the 15th of June, in Cagliari, Italy, home to the coordinating organization, TDM2000.
Each participating organisation sent two representatives. I was fortunate enough to be one of those sent by Art Square asbl.

One of our major tasks, over the course of the week, was to give each other a sense of how social entrepreneurship is fairing in our respective countries, paying particular attention to how it’s defined, the laws regulating it, the institutions supporting it, and stories of our own organisations and other notable ones. TDM2000 of course had the advantage of being able to show rather than tell, and did precisely that, taking us to visit a farming cooperative and a restaurant employing ex-felons, as well as bringing in speakers from a tour group whose guides are all immigrants.

Visits to local social entreprises SEYW

Our other major task was to make a start at tackling more directly the question the project is trying answer. We researched and discussed the already-existing overlap between social entrepreneurship and youth work – the skill-sets required in both, the kinds of professions operating on the border between the two, and the efforts being made in our countries and others to involve each in the other.

In the final two days, we worked in smaller groups to summarise all these initial findings of ours in a report, soon to be distributed to policy makers, youth workers and the wider public.

I certainly learnt a lot during the event, including many things that surprised me. I learnt that, in Bulgaria, entrepreneurship is taught in schools from age 7, and social entrepreneurship is part of the programme. I learnt that, in France, more than 10% of the economy is made up of social enterprises, while, in Italy, there are well over a million cooperatives. I learnt that, in Greece and Spain, the 2008 financial crisis massively stimulated the growth of the social and solidary economy, though, particularly in the former, austerity measures have since undermined its progress. I learnt that, in Estonia, there is a many-tiered formal hierarchy of youth workers, while in Poland the term is used so loosely that almost anyone who works with young people is considered one. I was also able to tell others about how Luxembourg alone has, in proclaiming its support for social enterprise, gone so far as to rebrand its Employment Ministry, so that it’s full title is now the Ministry of Labour, Employment and the Social and Solidarity Economy, and also about the work of Jonk Entrepreneuren asbl, who since 2005 have been going into Luxembourgish schools to introduce children and teenagers to the idea of a career as an entrepreneur and to just generally encourage their entrepreneurial thinking.

As a student of Politics and Sociology a few years back, one of my heroes was the late, great Erik Olin Wright, who was an advocate and theorist of interstitial revolution – that is, the gradual transformation of society by means of nurturing and growing the elements of it in which justice prevails, enabling them to displace those in which exploitation and greed are the norms. I thought of Wright often while in Cagliari. What we were learning about – the growing social enterprise movement, and its increasing support by governments – looks very in line with his vision.

I very much look forward to being involved in the project over the next two years, as similar events hosted by each of the participant organisations bring forward the discussion we began in Cagliari.

Writing of the inspiration paper for the SEYW project

1 Comment

  1. Alex
    July 8, 2019 at 7:27 pm — Reply

    I love this concept and I am from Asia. I wish i could join this program too.

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