Committed professionals, who have set out to generate changes in the society and the environment in which we live. It's exciting, especially in the light of the fact that they work with young people, transferring as much knowledge and inspiration to them as possible. What else could be the goal than to enable young people, too, to consciously shape their present and future?

Environmentally conscious approach in responsible entrepreneurial attitude - A forum where the entrepreneurial and civil sectors meet

TCP (Towards Collaborative Practice on Social Entrepreneurship) projects have been implemented as part of Youth@Work international strategic partnerships under the Erasmus+ programme since 2015. One of the main areas of the partnership was an annual international forum, which in autumn 2018 the Hungarian Erasmus+ National Agency organised in Budapest. We talked to one of the facilitators of the event, Erika Kármán.

What were the focal points of the programme?

This collaboration is built on the partnership of the member countries, and it seeks to enable the representatives of various sectors, such as the youth, the business, the administrative, the adult education and the non-formal education sectors to meet and exchange experiences in social entrepreneurship. The focus of the Budapest conference was on environmental awareness and its significance in social enterprises. The participants shared good examples with each other, got to know local organisations engaged in this field and attended lectures given by international experts who had great experience in this subject matter. The goals included the development of youths' employee and entrepreneurial skills with the involvement of youth professionals, partly so that later every participant can benefit from this knowledge in the course of their own work.

Who attended the forum?

Mostly professionals working with young people or in enterprises or NGO's with a focus on benefits for the society. Among others, they are heads of organisations, youth professionals and the representatives of the above-mentioned sectors. Over 100 participants from 30 countries attended the event.

Which were the most memorable programmes for you?

At the plenary sessions, I always have a "we belong together and think alike" feeling, even if not necessarily everybody expresses their opinions. I loved the workshops held for small groups of 15-20, too, where exciting discussions developed over particular issues. It was also very interesting to see that different countries and organisations used different approaches and methods to develop young people's entrepreneurial skills and creative thinking. The differences made the workshop discussions more varied. Besides the programmes, visiting local organisations has always been a special experience for every participant, and I am no exception. The best practices became tangible during the afternoons spent with social enterprises and NGO's in Budapest. We could learn about the operation, strategy and associates of Premier Kult Café, Kockacsoki Nonprofit Ltd., Cyclonomia Social Cooperative and Szatyor organisations. At the visits, the participants discussed issues which arise within their own respective organisations daily, either in strategic level decisions or at an operational level. But I also realised another important thing, namely that an environmentally conscious approach today can't be independent of any entrepreneurial attitude. Whether it's a profit-oriented or a non-profit sector, it's crucial that the operation of an organisation and the services it provides should put as little pressure on the environment as possible. Today it's essential to consider these aspects when you start an enterprise. Fortunately, more and more businesses and organisations are taking considerable steps in this direction, which also has an additional benefit: their social image is becoming more positive.

What feedback are you getting about the programme a few months after the forum?

Several participants informed us that they had begun to use the experiences and ideas gained here at home, in their own environments. There were several topics around which communities organised, where international professional collaboration and partnerships have already appeared.

I suppose the forum last year didn't mean the end of the programme series. 

In the past few years, the Youth@Work international partnership implemented conference-like forums and short study trips. Based on the success of the programmes, we have similar plans for the future, too, but we're also considering organising events to support experience exchange in other areas, both at a national and an international level. The next forum will be held in autumn 2019, in Spain. It will focus on solidarity, local development and social enterprises.

Last modified: 05-08-2019