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Balkan Changemakers Weekend

Nearly twenty people from seven countries across the Balkans are gathering for a weekend in Struga, Macedonia on 27-28 August 2016 to discuss the regional scene and about the problems that are holding back the growth of start-up ecosystems in the region

Nearly twenty people from seven countries across the Balkans are gathering for a weekend in Struga, Macedonia on 27-28 August 2016 to discuss the regional scene and about the problems that are holding back the growth of start-up ecosystems in the region

This is a grassroots event, organized by enthusiasts with a common vision of fostering the entrepreneurship and start-up ecosystems in their respective countries, has brought together community people from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Serbia with the goal of crafting two to three pilot initiatives which will be carried out across the region.

The organizing efforts for this event are recognized and supported by the SECO Entrepreneurship Program (SECO EP), a project that is supported by the Government of Switzerland and implemented by Swisscontact, together with J.E. Austin.

See how an idea, discussed over coffee, turned into an ad-hoc event. In less than 3 weeks, we managed to organize everything and bring all these creative people to Struga for a working weekend. I’m so happy to have this opportunity to organize a Balkan Changemakers Weekend for the first time and super excited to see what kind of projects we will develop. This initiative is also here to show that startup communities from Balkan countries can collaborate and make changes together. I hope this event becomes a tradition and next year we have other Balkan countries joining.“ Nina Nikolikj, SECO EP Eco-system facilitator in Macedonia and BCW Lead Organizer.

Balkan Changemakers Weekend will start on Friday, August 26th on the shores of Lake Ohrid in Struga, Macedonia. Participants for the weekend include representatives from SECO EP Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Oficina in Tirana, Albania; HUB385 in Zagreb, Croatia; Innovation Centre Kosovo and UNICEF Innovations Lab Kosovo in Prishtina, Kosovo; and StartUp Grind and StartUp Weekend in Skopje, Macedonia. Also in attendance will be start-up community members including Imagga from Bulgaria, Vollo from Croatia, and Brainster from Macedonia.

When you travel around Balkans, you realize that the majority has complaining and pessimism deep under their skin. But there are few exceptional people which are tackling hard the “status quo”. Putting this kind of people into one room, would make it very impactful roomArmin Konjali, Regional Director, East-West Digital News and BCW Lead Organizer.

I’ve spent the past two months traveling to many of the start-up communities in Southeastern Europe and learning about what opportunities entrepreneurship can offer to young adults in the region.

There is a rapidly growing multitude of organizations dedicated to technology and entrepreneurship in the region. However, it will require a team of creative, resourceful, and dedicated minds to figure out how to inspire a much broader range of people to approach their lives with an entrepreneurial mindset and take the plunge into start-up world I think we’ve put together a group of participants who are well-suited to tackle these problems. It is very exciting to be working with Nina and Armin, my co-organizers, to put this event on and be part of an early step in cross-border collaboration to foster the growth of the start-up ecosystem in the region. – Marilyn Harris, alumni, Stanford University, and BCW Lead Organizer.