Academy for Young Social Entrepreneurs (AYSE)

 

While positive political and economic changes have come to post-communist countries, much reform still needs to take place. The legacies of communism, authoritarianism and war continue to hamper political and economic progress. The Academy for Young Social Entrepreneurs (AYSE) was established by the Educational Society of Malopolska (MTO) in Poland in 2004 to address that legacy.  The program provides down-to-earth, very practical training for youth (aged 18-25) to develop innovative approaches to problem solving and equip participants with team-building, capacity building and fundraising skills.  At the same time it promotes the profession of social entrepreneurship and creates an open space for cooperation and mutual inspiration among ASHOKA Fellows (www.ashoka.org) and other social entrepreneurs. 

The program was piloted in Moldova in 2004 and then continued in Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) and Azerbaijan in 2005.  In 2006 it was introduced to young people from Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro.  It was repeated in B&H in 2007 and in Azerbaijan in 2008. We have learned from the experience in Moldova that MTO’s virtual support, while important, is not sufficient and ongoing support in country is crucial to the project’s success.

Although the Third Sector in the region has existed for some time now, it is in dire need of being strengthened so that local problems can be solved by the communities most affected.  This project provides direct support for civic activism by encouraging the active role of citizens in solving community issues and developing citizen responsibility.  It trains and inspires a multi-ethnic cadre of young social energizers and provides them with concrete and ongoing support back in their country by local practitioners. 

Enthusiastic individuals aware of the current problems in their local communities and having an interest and vision (even if vague) of how to  solve them have participated in this program. A great treasure and capacity can be found in the experience and spirit of existing social entrepreneurs. This is shared with the trainees during stationary workshops, internships and e-mail monitoring. AYSE prepares a cadre of young leaders, who, upon return to their country, in collaboration with peers from other countries and Polish Social Entrepreneurs, mobilize their communities.  They promote citizen initiatives thereby building a civil society able to take responsibility for their future.  

AYSE in Moldova 2004

 

The goal of this international pilot project was to get as many people in Moldova as possible involved in solving social problems through their own efforts. We hoped to convince them that they can improve unfavorable living conditions and to show them how to do so by providing them with examples and materials. We believed that it was important to prepare a highly trained group of selected university students for the role of entrepreneurial leaders who could model creative solutions to the multitude of social problems. 

AYSE in Azerbaijan and BiH, 2005

 

After a successful 2004 pilot phase of Academy of Young Social Entrepreneurs (AYSE) in Moldova we decided to spread the program to Azerbaijan and Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The goal of this project was to involve young Azeris and Bosnians in solving local problems through their own efforts.  Our aim was to assist them by providing examples and materials and preparing them to be local trainers and entrepreneurial leaders. 

AYSE in Rural Moldova 2005

 

The goal of this project was to continue the momentum begun in 2004 in the pilot phase of Academy of Young Social Entrepreneurs (AYSE) in Moldova thereby getting more young Moldovans involved in solving local problems through their own efforts.  Our aim was to assist them by providing examples and materials and preparing them to be local trainers and entrepreneurial leaders.  The first group of participants are now graduates of this Academy and are working to improve unfavorable living conditions.  They are now models of local social entrepreneurs.   Ownership of the program is gradually passing into Moldovan hands.  Such local ownership is the ultimate achievement.

AYSE in Moldova and BiH, 2006

 

The goal of this project was to continue the momentum begun in 2004 and 2005 in the Academy of Young Social Entrepreneurs (AYSE) in Moldova and BiH thereby getting more young people involved in solving local problems through their own efforts.  Our aim was to assist them by providing examples and materials and preparing them to be local trainers and entrepreneurial leaders.  The graduates of this Academy are working to improve unfavorable living conditions and are now models of local social entrepreneurs.   Ownership of the program is gradually passing into their hands.  Such local ownership is the ultimate achievement.

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