After one and a half years of project implementation, SEMPRE Accelerators presented its achievements and outputs at the EU Rural Vision Week (22-26 March 2021). The Rural Vision Week is a part of the EU Commission’s public consultation that feeds into the future Long Term Vision for Rural Areas. This new strategy aims at strengthening rural development in the European Union in various aspects, whether mobility and accessibility, poverty or demographic change.
For 103 registered participants, SEMPRE Accelerators hosted a so-called “Fringe Workshop” on 25 March: a short session to showcase how social service providers have teamed up with marginalised groups to co-create inclusive social start-ups. Moreover, for SEMPRE Accelerators, the Rural Vision Week was an opportunity to have a say in shaping a future EU strategy for rural areas (the EU Long Term Vision for Rural Areas). Against this background, the workshop also discussed policy-related matters – namely how to improve the conditions for inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystems in rural areas. As good examples, two of the social start-ups from SEMPRE Accelerators were introduced through short videos: SIVANs and the Stopover Coffee Shop.
SIVANs from Sweden tackles employment and income challenges by transforming an already existing but still relatively informal dog care service (SIVANs dog service) into an integrated social enterprise. This approach particularly suitable for job training for men and women with mental disabilities. In addition to the creation of jobs and income, the social enterprise furthermore offers job training for people facing difficulties entering the labour market. At the Rural Vision Week workshop, both Caroline, the facilitator, and Anna, a member of this social start-up, presented their project and discussed success factors and obstacles they experienced along the journey.
The Stopover Coffee Shop is a social enterprise that gathers young people and disadvantaged groups living in Liepa (Latvia) and the surrounding area. The idea behind the coffee shop is to create a platform for co-creation, a platform for the exchange of experience, expertise and social innovation: it is not only about coffee and cakes, but about new ideas and inspirations and creating a place to develop these imaginations at another level – a centre for services and local products, coffee and cakes, local tastes and our SEMPRE Liepa handmade souvenirs that are offered to tourists, locals and people passing by. The overarching idea of the coffee shop is to provide inclusive workplaces for people outside the labour market (such as single parents or people with disabilities) and to create a platform for education, training and practice (i.e. apprenticeships) to support the transition to the regular labour market. The Stopover Coffee Shop has been introduced by Anna from our project partners at VUAS as well as Selga, who works for Save the Children in Latvia, one of the local social service providers that our partners in Vidzeme have cooperated with.
The session was concluded with a panel discussion with the representatives of SIVANs and the Stopover Coffee Shop, elaborating on the support ecosystems for inclusive social enterprises (e.g. provision of funding, training and similar) and how the conditions for social start-ups like those from SEMPRE Accelerators could be improved.