NGO Meraki did dozens of international projects successfully in the field of Erasmus+ program.
Like many other countries in SE Europe, rural Croatia is facing existential depopulation. Croatia is losing youth rapidly. Mostly they go to work in western countries. Therefore, there is a significant need to provide youth competences to be aware of opportunities in their surroundings. This project aims to use digital tools to engage wider public and private sector involved in rural development through civic education to develop the open-minded community for the achievable actions.
Offline activities will take place in Podravske Sesvete, NW Croatia, but online across SE Europe.
Most of the activities will take place in the village of Podravske Sesvete, located in North-West Croatia. It is a rural area which is facing youth depopulation, unemployment and youth poverty. In the past, as in many regions around South-East Europe, most people were earning from agricultural and forestry activities. With the liberalisation of the national markets, many farmers couldn't compete with industrial agribusinesses. Therefore, the number of small businesses is continuously declining. Mentioned, it has an influence on youth optimism in smaller places. Furthermore, local development strategies are not willing to cope with the problems of youth challenges. Many youths are socially isolated and are not able to point out opportunities to save their heritages.
The Croatian demographic crisis is continuing to bite just as hard as it has ever done, with more and more Croatian youth abandoning the country and taking advantage of Croatia's EU membership for a better life and more economic stability in Western Europe, many feel the government has simply forgotten about them (Simmonds, L. 2020). With this project, different stakeholders (Public, private businesses, schools, NGOs) will connect in the digital entrepreneurial cluster. Children and youth are living in the digital world. So fostering civic education and entrepreneurship via digital tools will make them more engaged with society. It will lead to citizens' engagement participation in community development, rural development, democracy, social inclusion, and decline in migrations.
The primary beneficiaries are the NEET groups, Children in high schools (included national minorities), and young women in rural areas of NW Croatia, at first. They will gain competences on how to write a business plan and improve their understanding of the key development opportunities in rural areas, society values, long-term strategy, marketing, sales, public relations, budget and financing. They will be more engaged in social life and decision making processes on the local levels.
Through nonformal workshops, live debates with local decision-makers and business leaders, and by live broadcasting excursions.
The aim is to enhance the dialogue among youth, rural women, marginalised groups with local decision-makers, and rural business leaders.
In the first phase, we will equip the project team with training and working materials. Initial activities will be taken by NGO's members, mostly on volunteering bases.
The second phase will take focus on networking and promotion of the activities. (Local Municipalities, Social Businesses, Schools, Universities, Youth associations in rural areas od NW Croatia). We will provide workshops and organise debates to foster dialogue among target groups.
Then, we will deliver the pilot project in local surroundings NW Croatia. The next step will be collecting feedbacks, analysis, debates, and creating a team for programing the online platform. A platform will be in creation with the presence of different interest groups. The network will expand to other regions and countries in SEE.
20 workshops – civic education on youth opportunities and challenges, Established collaboration with three high schools, two universities, four municipalities and four NGOs in NW rural Croatia
Initiated dialogue among target groups to determine the solutions for youth in rural areas
Educational pilot project on fostering entrepreneurial (open-minded) mindset and competences is delivered
The aim is to enrich youth with market demanded skills to cope with challenges in the local surroundings, despite obstacles (geographical, financial, demographic etc.)
The digital platform that is providing network, the opportunity for dialogue, nonformal education, life broadcasting on rural development, youth engagement is delivered
The created model is ready to be implemented in other regions
Many young people in rural areas feel the government has simply forgotten about them (Simmonds, L. 2020). Therefore, youth are abandoning the country and taking advantage of EU membership for a better life and more economic stability in Western Europe. The overall purpose of this project is to help develop a more entrepreneurial culture, thereby assisting the rural areas in South-East Europe to become more competitive and reducing unemployment. By doing that youth will feel more as potential contributors to develop their heritages. That will lead to better dialogues with local decision-makers, in order to create better living standards for all. If we have more local entrepreneurs, people will stay. So more educated people will take into account all opportunities and democratic rights.
The most pressing problem facing Croatia and other South-East European countries is depopulation and unemployment in rural areas. For many communities, and for those concerned with rural policy, one of the most pressing issues for the future sustainability of rural communities is the exodus of young people. As an NGO with the partners, we would like to contribute to developing the awareness of opportunities that the European Union is giving to youth in depopulated areas. We believe that we have enough competences capacity among our NGO's members to deliver this project. Yet it will show how young people can contribute to better living standards in their surroundings despite their geographical obstacles.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Human resources 25.000 EUR (Employees and volunteers, full-time contracts, part-time contracts),
Project promotion 10,000 EUR (Events, workshops, printing brochures, website, Social media adds),
Office expenses 5.000 EUR (To purchase up to date needed equipment),
Travel and accommodation 4.500 EUR,
External experts 2.000 EUR,
Programming licenses and services 2.000 EUR,
Bookkeeping 500 EUR,
Contingency reserve 1000 EUR.
European Regional Development Fund
First of all, we would like to hear the opinions of others. That is very important to us. We would welcome criticism which will point our idea in the right direction. Furthermore, we are expecting a discussion on rural issues (depopulation, unemployment), and what is possible to do with this idea.