Eight young teams from Serbia have been selected to develop their initiatives for a better society and acquire essential knowledge and skills for launching social enterprises during the RISE program. 

In response to the call for participation in the RISE program, which was open in September 2023, approximately 40 creative youth teams from Serbia applied. The expert committee had the challenging task of selecting eight ideas and teams to participate in the program among the brilliant business ideas aimed at addressing various social and environmental issues. We introduce you to the eight selected teams who will develop their ideas and innovative solutions within the RISE incubator to bring positive changes in their community: 

  • Zajedničke niti” (Common Threads) team plans to open a center for vocational training for socio-economically disadvantaged groups, with a special focus on young people and women from the Roma community. The center will engage in creative clothing design, decorations, and handicrafts with elements of the rich Roma culture, as well as clothing repairs to create an additional source of income. In addition to the goal of reducing discrimination and prejudice against the Roma community and promoting the integration of their culture, this center will also provide economic security and contribute to the personal satisfaction of all community members. 
  • “Suvo Zlato” (Dry Gold) is a business venture that combines excellent taste with a social contribution. Their core idea involves the drying of plums to create a high-quality product – prunes, or “Dry Gold.” They plan to involve a marginalized group of refugee women from Ukraine residing in the Asylum Center in Vranje in the production process to provide them with an opportunity for integration into the community through work and economic independence. In this way, they aim to reduce prejudices and promote a practice that benefits both the community and the business world. 
  • “BIOSevent” was conceived by members of a family estate in Tara, who plan to develop a rural household with an extensive range of cultural, recreational, sports, and educational activities. In addition to enjoying the green valley, fresh air, art colonies, and local specialties, visitors will have the opportunity to participate in the production of homemade products. Special attention will be given to children and young people with plenty of interactive programs and outdoor activities that will divert them from modern technology and positively influence their social life. 
  • With the aim of preventing young people in Serbia from missing opportunities due to lack of information, “Idemo” (Let’s go) team decided to create a web and mobile application that provides information in the fields of culture, sports, and education. This platform, in addition to allowing information searching and filtering, will also increase the visibility of artists and small organizations. In this way, the team members also want to connect young people with similar interests and inspire them to attend cultural events and engage in recreational sports. 
  • “Presto” team wants to open the doors to the love of playing music for children in rural areas. They plan to organize full-day music workshops in the surrounding villages of Novi Sad, providing schoolchildren with the opportunity to learn to play their favorite music genre on various instruments and perform at concerts while connecting with music schools. In this way, the Presto team will support school-age children while contributing to the preservation of villages in Serbia. 
  • “Viva Young” team brings together a group from Požarevac that aims to raise environmental awareness among young people, involve them in environmental protection initiatives, and promote their collaboration on community projects. From activities such as tree planting, park, river, and forest cleaning to workshops on recycling, energy efficiency, and nature conservation, as well as volunteer and other actions, this team has designed a range of activities aimed at raising the awareness of young people about the importance of environmental conservation and ecological issues. 
  • “Pied Piper” team consists of a group of friends who have decided to address the issue of alienation and isolation prevalent in today’s urban environments. They plan to launch a platform that bridges the gap between the online and offline worlds, allowing users to discover local events, connect with like-minded people, and build authentic human connections. With the aim of restoring a sense of community, solidarity, and belonging to society, this platform will contribute to strengthening social cohesion and improving the quality of life. 
  • “Polimorf” team has a vision to enrich the cultural scene in New Belgrade by launching a festival and new cultural center eventually. Their goal is to strengthen the local artistic community and nurture the rich cultural heritage of this urban area. In addition to a music program with a focus on young musicians, the festival will also focus on the urban heritage of the blocks and the artists who create there. Furthermore, the event will serve as a platform for dialogue with the local community. In collaboration with the Multiple Sclerosis Association in Block 70, the festival will involve the most vulnerable residents of this block, whose voices are often overlooked and rarely heard, especially in the creation of artistic and engaged content.

This is the fourth time that the Regional Incubator for Social Entrepreneurs is conducting a free support program for the development of social entrepreneurship ideas. The program simultaneously takes place in six Western Balkan countries with the goal of enabling motivated and dedicated young people to develop their ideas and make the region a better place. During the four-month “ideation phase,” six to eight teams in six countries will build their ideas from scratch to a business model. On this journey, they will receive support from experts and mentors, guiding them through all the crucial steps in launching a social enterprise. Afterward, the two best teams from Serbia, and a total of 12 teams from the region, will receive additional financial and practical support to carry out their idea and enhance the development of their business during the “incubation phase.” 

Smart Kolektiv, the organization conducting the RISE program in Serbia, expresses gratitude to all those who took the time to consider how they can contribute to their community. All the ideas received are smart, innovative, and valuable, and despite the inability to include everyone who applied in the program, we encourage them to continue with their charitable intentions. 

The RISE project is supported by the Agence Française de Développement, the European Union; Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO), the Franco-German Youth Office (OFAJ), PULSE (Groupe SOS), South East European Youth Network (SEEYN), ARNO, Balkan Green Foundation, Nešto Više, Smart Kolektiv, IEC Tehnopolis and Yunus Social Business Balkans.