PANF workshop 5 community development

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PANF - POWERING A NEW FUTURE - EUROPEAN MEETING ON SOCIAL INNOVATION

LISBON 10-12 DECEMBER 2008

WORKSHOP 5

ENCOURAGING COLLECTIVE ACTION FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND INCLUSIVE ENTREPRENEURSHIP

This is the background document for the above workshop, co-ordinated by Paul Soto of AEIDL.

Contents

COMMON CHALLENGES – COMMON THREADS

One of the main aims of the Lisbon Agenda is to promote a "more entrepreneurial culture and create a supportive environment for SMEs" This is particularly important in times of crisis when markets and traditional sources of jobs are collapsing. In contexts such as these it is no longer possible for the individuals and communities that are traditionally excluded from the labour market just to wait and see what “trickles down”. They have to take the initiative and mobilise all the personal and local resources that are available to build sustainable economic solutions.

The projects presented in this workshop provide very rich and quite different examples of how this central challenge can be tackled. Despite the diversity of approaches the three cases share certain common threads:

  • Firstly, they take a very broad approach to entrepreneurship. They are not just about promoting business start-ups - but about taking the initiative in difficult and uncertain conditions, about identifying hidden opportunities, being able and prepared to take reasonable risks, about motivating people to believe that change can be achieved.
  • Secondly, all the projects take off where conventional solutions have failed. For example, when the educational system does not equip people to deal with the vacuum left by industrial and agricultural restructuring, when public services are not able to cope, or when traditional approaches to business support simply fail to break through.
  • Thirdly, all the projects break out of traditional stereotypes which counterpose individual initiative to collective action. By skillfully combining one to one and collective capacity building they show how creative “entrepreneurial” individuals can be nurtured by supportive communities.
  • Finally, all the projects prove what the current crisis has brought home with a vengeance:- that economic success rests on a very fragile base of social conditions. Without trust the economy grinds to a halt. These projects are precisely about rebuilding capacity, identity and confidence among people who, from bitter experience, have good reasons to doubt.

DIFFERENT SOLUTIONS – THE PROJECTS

ANIM@TE

As in many European countries, certain groups of people and certain areas of Portugal have been particularly hard hit by economic change. There are simply not enough jobs to go round in many deprived inner city areas and large swathes of the rural interior but the communities in these areas suffer from marginalisation, a loss of identity and a lack confidence in their ability to organise themselves and take action.

Yet these areas often have a series of locational, natural, built and human resources which are underused. Orchestrating these resources and the actors associated with them involves an unusual mix of skills which include - but go way beyond those of traditional business advisors or economic development agents. At present, the vital role of “territorial animation” is provided in a piecemeal fashion by a range of agencies and community organisations with the risk of major gaps in some areas and duplication in others.

Using Action 3 of EQUAL, Anim@ate has brought together some of the main public, private and voluntary organisations and networks involved in territorial animation in Portugal in order to test and develop territorial animation techniques in a series of areas. They are examining:

  • How to develop the skills and competences of people who are marginalised by traditional institutions and suffer from a loss of identity and confidence
  • How territorial animation can lead to improved self organisation and governance and spark off self sustaining spirals of local development
  • The concrete actions that can be taken to stimulate endogenous development in the current adverse economic circumstances

Information:
Name: Anim@ate. Action 3 EQUAL network
Contact person: Priscila Soares
Telephone: +351 289 840860
mailto://priscila.soares@in-loco.pt

ACBBA – THE ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY BASED BUSINESS ADVISORS

ACBBA is an association of business advisors that are actually based in ethnic minority and other community organisations rather than in traditional business support structures. It sprang from the work of two successive EQUAL partnerships - REFLEX and SIED both led by the London Borough of Islington.

The innovatory model of business support developed by ACCBA is based on the fact that many potential entrepreneurs from deprived urban areas and from black and ethnic minority communities do not naturally trust traditional business support agencies. However, they do often rely on a web networks based on families, friends and communities. ACCBA turns this situation into a strength by providing high quality recognised business training to the people that already have the trust of their communities.

ACCBA works to:

  • Develop the business skills of existing and new business advisers employed by community organisations through a programme of training, mentoring and professional accreditation
  • Develop new methods and tools to ensure the sustainability of business support by community organisations
  • Develop appropriate multi-lingual business materials and accessible information
  • Build networks amongst entrepreneurs from excluded communities so that they can effectively engage with mainstream business support agencies
  • Explore new ways for ACBBA member organisations and the businesses they support to participate in regeneration activities
  • Work with European partners to identify a range of good practice models in Europe to support the development of enterprises in deprived communities.

Information:
Name: ACBBA – Association of Community Based Business Advisors.
Contact: Teresa Bednall
Telephone: 00 44 207 6094198
mailto://terryb@acbba.org.uk
http://www.acbba.org.uk/ and http://sied.acbba.org.uk/

VALNALON

The "Technological City of Valnalon" sprang from the ashes of one of the most severe processes of industrial restructuring in Europe. Over the last twenty five years Valnalon have developed a complete "chain" of educational and training activities to forge a culture of entrepreneurship in an area that had grown used to dependence on never-ending mineral resources, big companies and help from "father" state. Through their participation in three EQUAL projects Valnalon have managed to move a series of excluded groups, like women and rural youth, closer to the "fast track" of business creation.

Valnalon’s innovative model of entrepreneurship education is based on a number of key principles:

  • First of all, Valnalon considers that it is important to intervene across the complete life cycle - through primary and secondary to universities and other training establishments.
  • Secondly, Valnalon has imaginatively adapted their training methodology to recreate real life situations at every state of the process. For example under Valnalon’s EJE programme young secondary school students between 12 and 16 years old create and manage their own co-operatives but this time for international trade. They invest their own money and get in touch with other cooperatives in Spain or, even better, in other countries.
  • Another feature of Valnalon’s approach is that they do not see entrepreneurship simply as a set of technical skills They see it is as a much broader set of attitudes and competences like team-working, decision-making, risk-taking, innovating and so on which can be applied to all walks of life.
  • Finally, Valnalon realises that it is not possible to change mindsets simply through innovatory educational methodologies. There is also need for far-reaching work with other stakeholders like teachers, parents and the rest of the community.

Valnalon has transferred its methodology to eight other regions of Spain as well as to Mexico, USA, Canada, UK (inc. Northern Ireland), Sweden, Norway, Poland, Slovakia and Belorussia. The cooperatives trade using new technology and communicate in English. There is even an agreement with the regional bank to support the cooperatives with microcredits.

Information:
Name: Sociedad Tecnológica de Valnalon, Asturias Spain
Contact: José Manuel Pérez
Telephone: +34 985 69 22 27
mailto://valnalon@valnalon.com
http://www.valnalon.com

SOME POSSIBLE QUESTIONS

  • How are the people and areas you cover being affected by the current crisis?
  • What do you expect to happen if existing policies continue?
  • What lessons does your project have for the responses that are required?
  • What kind of “rescue package” would you put into place to ensure that the people your project deals with have the opportunity to play a full role in society?