SEI Youth. My First Business: Where Dreams Turn Into Real Business Plans

From August 13 to 18, 2016, the first training on social entrepreneurship for young people and teenagers was organized by the Belarusian Youth Non-Governmental Organization "New Faces" and the Belgian non-profit organization "ODB Brussels" within the framework of "Social Entrepreneurship Incubator" programme in Lyaskouka village.


Drawing the portrait of a typical customer


The final portrait of a typical target group representative 1


For a whole week, girls and boys from all over Belarus studied social entrepreneurship. With great enthusiasm and tenacity they developed new ideas for socially beneficial businesses, learned about the gender aspects of employment relationship, the ecological footprint and the concept of the "green office", so that in future already at the development stage they would take into account the impact their businesses could potentially have on the environment and the people. Relying on their design thinking and strategic planning skills, they drew portraits of their potential customers, developed the basis for their business model and got acquainted with the basics of marketing and financial literacy. They also took a short but very informative course on the legal framework of entrepreneurship and ways to look for investment opportunities. And, surely, they tried their hand at pitching on the final day of the programme. During the training, the 27 future entrepreneurs concerned with employing people with disabilities, organizing care and leisure for the elderly, supporting career guidance activities for teenagers, restoring the environment and reviving Belarusian culture, had a chance to meet Belarusian social entrepreneurs, including Aliaksandr Skrabousky, founder of МаеSens charity auction of meetings and the primary organizer of Social Weekend, which is the largest contest of social projects in Belarus; Ivan Viadzenin,  creative director of talaka.byGalina Matsiushenka, director of Social Business Technologies; Mariya Charakova, social entrepreneur from the Netherlands and author of Heta Belarus, Dzietka! ("That's Belarus, baby!")  book; Volga Mzhelskaya, PR manager for the  crowdfunding platform, and Aliaksei Auhustsinovich, creator of the "Internet: No Barriers!" project.

Olga Kapachenia

The organizers were focused on delivering a curriculum that is as practical as possible. Olga Kapachenia, coordinator of the programme for teenagers, notes that "the training is based on non-formal education, which is focused on practical application of acquired knowledge during the training itself. This not only creates an opportunity to 'reinforce the lessons' but also makes the process of learning more active and less dull. Non-formal education suits all learning styles. During the training, participants worked a lot in small groups, debated and had discussions, played and assumed different roles, analyzed, applied their creative skills and developed prototypes for their business solutions. The diverse range of practical activities helped them take in lots of previously unknown ideas, which is something that all of the participants noted. In one week, they covered a business programme that is similar to one developed for already-experienced adults, they were not exhausted by it and, in their own words, became even more inspired to create their own enterprises”.

The jury for the final pitches



First graduates of SEI Youth: My First Business


Alyona Lis

“Graduates of the first school will go on to take part in various contests of start-ups and social projects such as "Social Weekend", benefit from the fundraising channels and support of Ulej and TALAKA, and the most successful participants will become mentors for participants of the next year's course", notes Alyona Lis, Senior Programme Officer at ODB Brussels. "In October, we will announce the call for applications for a combined online / offline course aimed at adult participants, where the pool of mentors will be comprised of representatives of the Belarusian diaspora who have already built their own successful businesses. The goal of this 'school" is to provide future and existing Belarusian social entrepreneurs with an opportunity to work on their business idea, product or service in the framework of 24 learning modules, including business planning, financial and legal literacy, marketing and other skills and knowledge necessary to understand and organize business processes".

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