SILVER SMEs partners developed and now implement Action Plans to support the Silver Economy in their regions. Today, we meet with Paulo Costa Pinto, Senior Officer at the Strategic Planning Unit at the Comunidade Intermunicipal do Ave (Portugal), to discuss how CIM do Ave’s Action Plan will drive action and change in this territory.

What are the main actions of your Action Plan?

Through our SILVER SMEs Action Plan, we will implement the two following actions:

  • Develop an awareness-raising campaign on the potential of Silver Economy for local businesses.
  • Create a training programme targeting caregivers to improve capacity building.

The SWOT analysis that we carried out at the beginning of the SILVER SMEs project revealed the lack of awareness from SMEs on the Silver Economy market, including businesses from the tourism industry and the care sector. So far, they did not identify in our territory the specific needs of older adults, nor the economic opportunities linked to an ageing population. Our Action Plan aims to address this weakness by raising awareness among SMEs about our local demographic and economic context.

How will these actions be technically executed?

These two actions will be implemented in 2022 and 2023. Regarding the awareness-raising campaign, we will first communicate towards entrepreneurs about the Silver Economy, to inform them of the existing opportunities and needs. Secondly, depending on the future COVID-19 context, we will organise a series of seminars for entrepreneurs. We have opted for 3 thematic seminars:

  • ICT and the Silver Economy
  • Business examples on the Silver Economy from other European regions
  • Silver Economy: main trends after the pandemic

For this action, we will involve local municipalities, businesses and entrepreneurs and the Regional Coordination and Development Commission of the Norte Region (which was the previous managing authority for the regional Operational Programme and should be in charge of the future programming). In total for the awareness-raising campaign through the organisation of seminars, we foresee a budget of 1,200 euros.

Then, regarding our second action, the training programme for caregivers intends to create a niche market of the Silver Economy by developing tourism offers targeting vulnerable and dependent older adults and their families. The final objective is to boost the competitiveness of SMEs in rural and mountainous areas to create employment and fight depopulation. The training programme will help caregivers to adapt to the tourism environment. It will also train hotels and other accommodation facilities to first aid techniques and COVID-19 protocols. So far, we hope that the training will be face-to-face but, in case the COVID-19 context does not allow it, we have also planned the creation of an online training platform for this action. In total, we will allocate 30,000 euros for the implementation of this training action.

What are the expected benefits of these actions both for older adults and SMEs in your territory?

Thanks to the exchange of experiences, our Action Plan will open new markets to small businesses from the tourism industry, in particular small hotels in rural and mountainous areas. The Silver Economy, when applied to tourism, is conceptually close to the accessible tourism market. This includes offer for dependent older adults and their families, to provide them with experiences adapted to the needs of each member of the family. By adapting their offers to the needs of older adults, SMEs like small hotels in our territory will be able to develop a new market and ensure their economic viability.

Of course, such offer benefits everyone. It enables dependent or vulnerable older adults to spend restful holidays in rural and mountainous areas. We hope to improve their satisfaction. Moreover, small hotels units of caregivers will have to be created, in collaboration with SMEs specialised in care. This offer ensures families that skilled caregivers are there to take care of their elder if needed, also ensuring a relaxing and less stressful holiday.

How has interregional cooperation helped you to draw up your Action Plan?

The common framework created by SILVER SMES facilitated the exchange of ideas with territories facing similar challenges. Immediately at the first meeting, at Ageing Fit in Lille, Prof. Adam Prominsky’s presentation helped us to grasp the concept of the Silver Economy. Later, we were also inspired directly by the following practices:

  • Cuidarte, from Diputación de Teruel, which provided training for caregivers (both professional caregivers and non-professional ones, like people taking care of their vulnerable relatives at home).
  • Across Lombard Lands, a good practice presented by Euromontana during a virtual meeting (see presentations) and which aimed at training SMEs from the accessible tourism industry in developing offers adapted to the needs of older adults.

Read more in CIM do Ave's Action Plan!