Guide to create YES ecosystems

Keeping young talents in rural areas is one of the current key challenges identified at regional and local level in Europe. Involving and empowering young people in the rural community and helping them to find or create an active role in it is at the core of our project.

Therefore, YESpecialists aim at promoting an entrepreneurial attitude to foster rural development. One of the main objectives of the YESpecialists project is to set up local and regional communities that are attractive to young people, by supporting young people in developing and carrying out their own initiatives. This attractiveness can be boosted by the development of innovative ideas that foster economic development in key areas such as sustainable agriculture, green tourism and creative industries. An entrepreneurial spirit means also social innovation and developing and implementing good ideas to make the local community more attractive for young people to live in.  The setting up of local ecosystems can also be of great help in empowering young people from vulnerable groups, such as refugees and newly-arrived third-country nationals.

How can you set up a local ecosystem to boost Youth Entrepreneurial Spirit?

Watch the video below to find out more, and explore the 5 steps! Each step has a link to a full file of resources that will help you to create your local ecosystem.

Step 1: Analyse your local stakeholders

# Who could and should be part of the ecosystem? Which of the stakeholders is in the best position to be the coordinator? Take contact and start out with those, who initially show energy and are enthusiastic about the idea. Follow the energy – show the way! 

# Be sure to take in partners as close to the young people as possible. If things are to happen in real life – then we need to get those on board who are close to young people on a daily basis.

# If you get young people to join the ecosystem – you are lucky! If you don’t succeed in the first attempt – don’t be too disillusioned. Nobody – not even young people themselves – think it is easy to get young people to join meetings etc.

Step 2: Map the situation and gather youth input

# This is where it is crucial to have partners in the ecosystem, who on a daily basis are close to young people. Let them choose the method suitable for “their” young people. 

# Consider your approach and method. For some a questionnaire is fine. For others an interview, a photovoice or other kinds of gathering input is better. Let the nature of the target group decide which method is best.

What is meant by an entrepreneurial mindset?

As discussed above, the European Entrepreneurship Competence Framework explains what is meant by an entrepreneurial mindset.

EntreComp can be used across sectors and be a key support for collaboration and development work by educators, trainers, employers, professional bodies and policy-makers.

The EntreComp wheel. See here for more information.

Discover how teachers and students have been working with EntreComp linked to their local community

Step 3: Start up your local ecosystem

# Ensure agreement among the partners on the purpose of the local ecosystem. It is important to have a common goal. The EntreComp framework (above) can be considered as a starting point for your discussions.

# The local ecosystem should have a dedicated leader. There should be a clear division of tasks among the partners in the local ecosystem. 

# As soon as possible: Get concrete. Talking is good – doing is better! To have an ecosystem, you need to do things together – to be dependent upon each other. Doing things together is also a way of learning what each partner is capable of. Try to set up small scale activities together – learn from them and develop new initiatives together.

Step 4: Implement your activities

# Be focused and clear about which activities you choose to implement. Better to take a few activities and give them all you have, than to spread your energy out on several activities. 

# Involve everyone and ensure co-creation.B. Better to choose activities that all partners have a share in, than each partner having separate activities.

#Be smart in your communication to your target group. Let the young people be your advisers or – even better –  let them do the marketing job. They know which digital platforms should be used to get your message out to your target group.

# Mistakes are inevitable and should therefore be expected. Try to learn from failures and include the target group in this process 

Step 5: Make your ecosystem sustainable

# To be sure to sustain the ecosystem in the long run, it might be an idea to create a yearly / repeated activity. For instance, an Entrepreneurship Week, which – if a success – will be repeated each year. In this way, we make sure that the partners in the ecosystem have a “need to meet” at least once every year to start co-create the week of entrepreneurship.

# Build a culture of positivity, praise and celebration in your ecosystem. Celebrate all big and small successes and results. The more the (young) people feel that their contribution and efforts are seen and valued, the higher are the chances that your resource persons will continue doing great work in your local community!