For the third year in a row, Centre for European Perspective (CEP) is enablingouth from the region to attend the leading start-up meeting in the region with an international dimension, PODIM Conference. The project started three years ago in the framework of Slovenia’s development cooperation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and spread its scope to Kosovo last year.

During the project, young entrepreneurs from BiH and Kosovo prepare their entrepreneurial idea, improve it during the preparation phase in which a workshop takes place in Sarajevo and Prishtina, and then present it in their application through which we choose the best ten proposals per country.

Our experience show that the workshops that are organized in the recipient countries in the spring, contribute to the quality and quantity of the applications. The workshops proved to be useful as the entrepreneurial applications tend to be better year by year, which can also be seen in the ratio of the start-ups that are presented in the Start-up catalogue of PODIM Conference. The catalogue is prepared for the investors that attend the conference and raises awareness about the quality of the start-ups that are present throughout the conference. Among the participants of the conference, one third consists of investors, one third of start-ups and one third of bigger corporations from the region, seeking for corporate partnerships. PODIM Conference will take place on 10 and 11 May in Maribor, Slovenia. Our selected participants will participate at the conference, take part in the PODIM Challenge, present their ideas in the PODIM Start-up catalogue and be able to meet investors and potential partners at the one-on-one meetings.

This year, we received 27 applications from BiH and a record number, 48 from Kosovo. The commission, consisting of the experts in the field of start-up sector, assessed the ideas and invited the best 10 teams from BiH and the best 10 from Kosovo. CEP’s role is to enable the teams to select two team members who get the transportation, accommodation, ticket to the PODIM Conference, transfer around Slovenia and an additional day of training at the Jable Castle free of charge.

At the Jable Castle, young participants get to hear more about Slovenian start-up environment. This year they will listen to the representatives of the Start:up Slovenija team, that represents an association on the national level – a concept of start-up cooperation that is yet unknown in BiH and Kosovo. Positive Agenda for Youth in the Western Balkans will be presented by the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a broader discussion will be established on the topic of their experiences, needs, expectations and challenges that they face in their home countries in the field of youth entrepreneurship. The 3-day project will conclude in Ljubljana, where the participants will visit the ABC Accelerator, get to know their vision and work and get information about their projects in the Balkans.

We widen participants’ knowledge about entrepreneurship and give them an insight into the process of development of the project from the initial idea to the launch and potential founding of their own company, which is one of potential approaches to addressing the issue of unemployment and underemployment in the wider region. Youngsters get an opportunity to meet potential investors and corporate partners and last but not least, the entrepreneurs with the same mindset and entrepreneurial enthusiasm, which is the key to the further cooperation that can transcend the state borders in the region of Western Balkans.

The project is part of our program activities, financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Republic of Slovenia in the framework of Slovenia’s development cooperation.