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Young entrepreneurs key to the future in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Joint effort launched by the European Training Foundation, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Western Balkans 6 Chamber Investment Forum

The digital and green economy, embracing circular economic opportunities, encouraging women’s entrepreneurship, addressing skills shortages in smaller cities, enhancing support for investment and training, seed funding: these are just some of the essential issues for young entrepreneurs discussed at a recent event co-organised by the European Training Foundation, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Western Balkans 6 Chamber Investment Forum, “Youth entrepreneurship in South Eastern Europe and Turkey: a window of opportunities”.

Young entrepreneurs, representatives from governments, businesses and intermediary institutions at country and regional level, international financial institutions and regional bodies contributed to the debate, which aimed to promote cooperation between partners and identify solutions for a better transition from school to work and labour market integration of young people in the region

Safet Gërxhaliu, Secretary General, Western Balkans Six Chamber Investment Forum, a joint initiative of chambers of commerce and industry from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, stressed the need for more cooperation between education and the economy in the region, and encouraged representatives from business support organisations to share their support for young entrepreneurs. 

"We need to address the whole ecosystem to support young entrepreneurs, an issue we have been promoting for a long time in the region” said Barbara Rambousek, Director, European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.

European Commission representatives, Youssef Tadros and Fanny Serée, highlighted the strategic importance of the new EU investment plan for the Western Balkans in promoting economic recovery and making the region an attractive investment destination. “The EU Youth Guarantee is an important tool for promoting entrepreneurship”, they said.

The debate concluded that skills and resilience are key to tackling the impact of Covid-19 and embracing the opportunities of digital and green economies. This involves adjusting production patterns, implementing quality standards and exploring new trade opportunities. Education and employment policies can boost the entrepreneurial mindset of young people in the region. Whilst business funding, networking, mentoring, and innovation incentives should be tailored to the diverse needs of young entrepreneurs. 

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