From 6 to 10 December, a Regional Funds Week was held, during which successful projects funded by Regional Cooperation Funds and Youth Employment Funds were presented. One of the round tables was dedicated to the RAISE Youth project.

During it, barriers and opportunities for young people in the field of regional development were specified, while at the same time the main partner from Croatia was visited by a representative of the Norway Grants Fund.

It turned out that Bulgaria and Croatia have a lot in common when it comes to the attitude of young people towards entrepreneurship. To a large extent, the fear of failure is instilled in them by their parents, and developments in agriculture or rural areas are considered unprestigious and even shameful. Mary Ann Rukavina, project coordinator of the RAISE Youth project, added that according to her observations, young people try to avoid risks, so they go to the capital and big cities.

A similar practice is emerging in Bulgaria, explained Stanimira Hadjimitova, project coordinator of RAISE Youth Bulgaria. According to Anita Tonkovic, a researcher at the Ivo Pilar Institute, the biggest problem we face is the mentality that returning to your home village or small town is a disgrace to your whole family and means you have failed.

However, there is definitely light in the tunnel!

This is the opinion of Mile Milković, director of the LSŽ Development Center, and Mateo Ivanač, head of the Industrial Development and Innovation System - HGK department of the Association of Young Entrepreneurs in Croatia. They see opportunities in promoting rural areas such as Nikola Tesla's birthplace, or a large clean space that can become a paradise for digital nomads or an ecologically clean place where they can get real food.

"The pandemic has left so many people at home in the big cities, many of us who live in rural areas, we have hardly felt any change, as we have huge free space in the open," they added.

Another possible solution is the so called push-pull effect

The local government plays an active role in it through programs to fund young people who go to study in big cities or abroad, and then return and transfer their experience and skills to local communities. Another opportunity for young people is to develop a market through incubation - creating a market through small grants and buying products as a form of higher subsidies for young people. A better political system without corruption and improved infrastructure, in turn, will help change young people's way of thinking.

One of the findings of the online roundtable was that creating an innovation ecosystem is essential to attracting more human capital. The youth centers developed within the project are a great place to start new businesses and create new products, the participants in the event were categorical. The RAISE Youth project can be used by both local authorities and local businesses for strategic purposes and to accelerate innovative approaches, as well as increase the value of products and find sustainable solutions.

Other successful projects with a focus on regional development and youth employment were presented in the week from 6 to 10 December, more about them here:


The RAISE Youth project, implemented by the Center for Development of Sustainable Communities, covers over 500 young people aged between 18 and 29, living in the municipalities of Pernik, Breznik, Trun, Radomir, Zemen and Kovachevtsi, who are not currently involved. Within its framework, various trainings for career and personal development are passed, and the most active 20 participants will be provided with additional training and mentoring assistance to start their own business.

The RAISE Youth project is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment.




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