After two years of remote working due to the Covid-19, iEER partners and stakeholders were thrilled to meet in the Marche region, Italy, on 5-6 April for its first learning event to learn about inclusive entrepreneurship.

On our journey to recover from the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the iEER project is looking for solutions to ensure an inclusive recovery, with a focus on entrepreneurship.

- It is of vital importance that we put people and their welfare in the centre of policy making, said Mr. Ossi Savolainen, Regional Mayor of Helsinki-Uusimaa, in his opening address.

During the event, the participants examined inclusive entrepreneurship from two main angles. Firstly, how can regions encourage women, seniors, immigrants, and other disadvantaged groups to become entrepreneurs? What are some key challenges they might face, and how can we as regions combat these challenges to make the world of entrepreneurship more accessible for all?

Secondly, participants discussed the social impact of businesses and how it could be measured. We heard two inspiring examples of social enterprises from the Marche region; Frolla, an artisanal bakery that employs people with disabilities, and Limix, a research-based company that has developed the product Talking Hands, a smart glove that can translate sign language into spoken language. It is evident that such companies have more than just economic impact. In addition to the presentations by Marche, all partners did short pitches presenting a good practice from their region.


 

Working towards future action

On the second day, the participants were divided into groups for brainstorming. Having heard various presentations the day before by experts from the university, business representatives, and other stakeholders, we were well prepared and motivated to discuss future actions.

- Entrepreneurial mindset is not reserved for entrepreneurs only. It entails being bold and innovative, thinking outside the box, taking risks and not being afraid of setbacks. We can all be entrepreneurial, and that is how change will be made, said Ms. Breda O'Dwyer when presenting the set-up of our workshops.

With that in mind, the groups set to work. We wanted to know how we, as regions, could measure social impact of companies and even our own actions. We discussed the SDG's and whether social impact could be measured with the help of their sub-targets and indicators. Or were there good practices - either among our regions or elsewhere - that we could benchmark?

The study visit raised plenty of fruitful discussion and learnings on inclusive entrepreneurship. Participants returned home with inspiration and new project initiatives.