The event featured several keynote speakers and panel discussions, all focused on unlocking the potential of young people in the social economy. EURADA aims to promote regional development through supporting bottom-up initiatives, such as youth-led social entrepreneurship, which has been a core business of RDAs across Europe for decades. Recognising the significance of crowdfunding as an innovative approach to achieving established goals, EURADA promotes its use. Moreover, the long-standing collaboration between EURADA and EUROCROWD on various issues makes it a natural fit for the two organisations to work together.
Antonella Noya, Head of the Unit on Social Economy and Innovation at the OECD Center for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, regions, and cities, delivered a keynote speech on the importance of the social economy and the place young people can occupy in it. She stressed the commitment and passion of young social entrepreneurs and the transformative impact their work can have. Noya highlighted the challenges facing youth-led social enterprises, including access to finance and markets, institutional support structures, and business development support.
The panel discussion on fostering youth-led social enterprises through alternative finance and impact investments featured moderator Luidi della Sala and speakers Arnau Picón, Olivia Lopez Calderón, and Nils Wilgos. First, Olivia shared her experience of starting a community magazine through crowdfunding, highlighting the challenges of setting the right price point and convincing people to contribute. Then, Arnau discussed the importance of financial clarity and the need for investors with a helpful mindset. It’s important that they listen to entrepreneurs and see what are their needs in order to help them. And finally, Nils emphasised the importance of investing in people and their skills, rather than just giving them money.
The final panel discussed the lessons learned from the INCROWD project and other relevant stakeholders in the European Year of Skills and Young Adults’ Employability. Diana Filip from JA Europe emphasised the need for a change in education to promote entrepreneurial skills and creativity. She also stressed the importance of recognising the skills learned from the process and normalising failures.
Overall, the INCROWD final conference provided a platform to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing youth-led social enterprises. It highlighted the passion and commitment of young social entrepreneurs and the transformative impact of their work. The event also emphasised the need for access to finance and institutional support, as well as a change in education to promote entrepreneurial skills and creativity.