On December 16, “Social Entrepreneurship Incubator” Biz4all-2 programme had its first online training. The teams, having gathered from across Belarus, spend the first half of the day learning about social entrepreneurship and its differences from traditional business, had the opportunity to meet participants of the first school and representatives of the Belarusian diaspora. You can read more about the first part of the offline training here: Social Entrepreneurship Training Programme Biz4all-2: Change is Your Friend.
The programme is implemented by ODB Brussels (Belgium) in partnership with TNU Network University (Netherlands) within the framework of the EU-funded “Social Entrepreneurship Incubator” programme.
Feel free to ask questions
In addition to the online and offline trainings, Biz4all organizers will select a mentor from the Belarusian diaspora for each team. The plan is to get about twenty people for the second programme, who, based on their interests and competences, will select teams they want to work with and support them throughout the training: check their homework, help them refine their business ideas.
Alina Stankevich, Biz4all mentor from Germany
Four mentors came to the kick-off event to meet the teams in person. During their presentations, all of them underscored that, even though they had spent many years in other countries, they still felt connected to Belarus and considered it important to share their newly acquired competences with their fellow Belarusians. Alina Stankevich was a mentor in the first programme and now had a chance to meet the participants of the second one. Maria Anischankava came from Italy, Lilia Plygauka — from Lithuania, and Masha Charakova — from the Netherlands. They presented their experience and competences, described how they could be useful to the teams.
Maria Anischankava, Biz4all mentor from Italy
Lilia Plygauka also has some experience as a mentor with the first batch of Biz4all teams. She stressed that the programme presented everyone with a unique opportunity, because in the six months here they could get experience that others would spend years and huge sums of money to achieve. “Instead of being shy with the mentors, always show initiative. You cannot develop your enterprise without communication skills, so use the experience of the mentors, who are always open to new contacts. Belarusian diaspora in this project is a bridge for you between Belarus and the rest of the world”. The organizers emphasized that this year they were also thinking about providing the participants not only with mentors from among the Belarusian diaspora abroad but also with specialists from Belarus.
Lilia Plygauka, Biz4all mentor from Lithuania
Be friendly with each other
After a short video was shown from the Biz4all-1 final, its graduates spoke before the newbies to share their experience. Sviatlana Chizhyk represented her social family enterprise “Matyliok” (“Butterfly”). “This was something we brought with us to the final. Originally, though, we came with a totally different idea — we wanted to create a club for older people. However, during one of our learning curves, we had a task to make a survey of about 100 people and use the results to plan and adapt our idea. Thanks to this task, which we took very responsibly, it became clear to us that we would not cope with the original idea as that project was too big and ambitious. Also, it became clear to me that I lacked competence to manage a team”. That is why the second tip from Sviatlana is to only bring interested people with great personal motivation on board.
Sviatlana Chizhyk, graduate of the first Biz4all school, representing her social family enterprise “Matyliok”
“The next crucial task for us had to do with creating a website for our project. We have no club but we need a website. So, I’m lost, I realize that we probably need to leave the race and give up, but we do not want to do this, we want to learn. And then I take a look around and see that I, my mother and my daughter are sitting around the table, we have the lace spread out and we are making bow ties. This is when I realize that our idea is here: this is our project, and this is our team".
Further, according to Sviatlana, the training went like clockwork — it became easy to learn, they did all the tasks on time, and everything turned out great. That is why, says the entrepreneur, one should never feel conscious about turning to the organizers for help, as they will always give good advice and meet you halfway.
Hanna Gridziushka, graduate of the first Biz4all Social Entrepreneurship School, project HiFive Belarus
Hanna Gridziushka from the HiFive Belarus project gave the beginners a number of tips on how to start their own business:
- Never Eat Alone. This is the title of a book by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz dedicated to networking. Even if you have nothing more than an idea at the moment, you should already start building your network of contacts.
- Do not be scared: everyone is afraid of starting their own business.
- Do not spend a lot of money at the start.
- Make money, because having a social mission is great, but, unless you make money, your social mission might never come true.
- Engage with your mentors more actively, ask them specific questions.
- Peer2peer sessions are incredibly beneficial! It may be hard to get together sometimes, but meeting with other teams is very useful, even if your ideas are completely different. When someone takes a fresh look at your idea as an outsider, you can get great advice that you can apply in future.
Another graduate of the “Social Entrepreneurship Incubator” Biz4all programme was Dmitry Klimkovich with his private enterprise “Essential Capital”, which employs people with disabilities. “I have worked in non-profit organizations for about five years, and together with my team I have implemented project for older people and people with disabilities. However, in Belarus, non-commercial organizations are not sustainable. Last year, having come back from a training programme in the USA, we set up our company “Essential Capital”.
Dmitry Klimkovich, graduate of the first Biz4all Social Entrepreneurship School, representing private enterprise “Essential Capital” (“Tsenny Capital”)
In the beginning, the team opened a shop with three tables and a Xerox machine, making copies of documents. Later they also started to make passport and ID photos, bought more equipment, and started to sell stationery and office supplies. After Biz4all ended, they also set up a printing shop, where two employees with disabilities now provide the full range of printing services. In November, they also launched their own stationery and office supplies online store. “We are planning to open two similar shops next year. At the moment, we have seven people on our team, and five of them are people with disabilities”.
Text by: Valerya Nikalaichyk
Photo by: Anzhelika Grakovich
|The goal of the programme is to develop a package of social entrepreneurship training programmes in Russian using innovative international practices, as well as the experience of Belarusian diaspora representatives who have become successful entrepreneurs in European Union countries and the USA.|
The publication was prepared within the framework of the "Social Entrepreneurship Incubator", implemented by ODB Brussels in partnership with TNU Network University (Netherlands), Belarusian Youth Public Union "New Faces" and International Civil Association "Union of Belarusian of the world “Motherland", with the fiancial support from the European Union.