Global Entrepreneurship Week is week-long initiative founded by Global Entrepreneurship Network that occurs every third week in November each year worldwide, connecting 20.000 partners from 180 countries in organizing 40.000 activities attended by more than 10 million people. It is a week that promotes, cherishes and celebrates entrepreneurship in all of its forms, enabling a focused discussion between relevant stakeholders from the private, public, civic and academic sector. This year, the GEW happened between 16 and 22 November, amidst global pandemic that seriously deteriorated the economy and world as we know it today. However, for GEW N. Macedonia, this was the most successful initiative so-far, gathering 54 partners into organizing 45 online events that were attended by 3.200 participants from across N. Macedonia.
The GEW Host in N. Macedonia, Startup Macedonia Association partnered with representatives from the triple helix: the Government, the Academia, the private and civic sector to achieve one of the greatest entrepreneurial campaigns in the history of the country. The team worked tirelessly to offer good quality and inclusive program to the startups, entrepreneurs, interested audience and relevant stakeholders on global topics supported by the Global Entrepreneurship Network but also other ones, that are relevant for the domestic startup scene in N. Macedonia. Some organizations ran the extra mile and offered regional landscape overview of the ecosystems, to enable deeper and greater understanding for the community champs, promoting success stories from the Balkans. Such an example, was the Womenpreneurs event organized by Nina Nikolich, that showcased the startup landscape of N. Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania.
Startup Macedonia Association is one of the key-players in the Macedonian ecosystem, actively working on digitalizing the ecosystem and connecting all relevant partners in one platform (https://app.startupmacedonia.mk/login) that was promoted also on the GEW 2019; as well as on improving the regulatory framework for startups leading the Law on Trade Companies amendment in relation to convertible loan to enable Business Angels better investment opportunities; creating a mentoring platform to enable startups adequate support and mentorships and leading many other initiatives. This year, Startup Macedonia organized the flagship event dedicated to policy-making and successes that arised from good lobbying practices seeded by this organization. The panel also included Mrs. Tatjana Markovska from the World Bank Office in N. Macedonia, Mr. Kosta Petrov, the Director of the Fund for Innovations and Technological Development, Mrs. Nina Nikolich and Mr. Igor Madzov from Swiss EP and Startup Macedonia. This discussion was relevant for the whole ecosystem, as Mr. Petrov announced some of the projects and initiatives the Government will focus in the next period, followed by a discussion with the audience on priorities and strategic directions.
One of the greatest novelties that GEW N. Macedonia implemented this year, were the slots that were given to entrepreneurs to share their road to success i.e. personal stories. In such manner, there were 8 events organized by some of the most promising startups or mature companies, but also one event with one of the greatest entrepreneurs in the whole Balkan region, Mr. Svetozar Janevski, the Founder of M6 Investment Group and CEO of Tikvesh Winery. Mr. Janevski paid great attention to advices for young people, in order to help them find and set focus in order to pave the path to success. Mrs. Arijana Koskarova, Forbes Under 30 Entrepreneur and Founder of Creative Hub shared her personal story of building a successful career in big corporate, but then leaving the comfort zone to build something from scratch, thus expanding it to other countries. The audience also had te chance to learn from Mr. Bujar Abdulai from Neti Inc., Mrs. Vlora Ademi from Digicube, Mr. Gorjan Jovanovski from AirCare, Mr. David Pavlovski from Kiimo, Mr. Nikola Jordanovski from UpShift and Mr. Nikola Bojkov from EmbedSocial about their personal stories, the value of strong ethical principles in business, persistence and perseverance in the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, this year Startup Macedonia organized the first Startup Huddle with two startups from tourism and agriculture area. Seavus Accelerator organized a pitching event for the startups that are part of the incubation program, where startups shared their pitch decks and were answering to questions from the audience.
Next, a topic that was discussed a lot was social entrepreneurship, where the most prominent organizations in the Macedonian ecosystem shared their views on challenges they are facing within the domestic ecosystem, the perception over "social" in business and on lessons learned from the past, Here, the Ministry of Labor and Social Politics organized a public discussion dedicated to the National Strategy for development of social enterprises in N. Macedonia where all of the ecosystem stakeholder took a stand on the next steps. Hence, Social Entrepreneurship Observatory, ARNO Foundation and UNDP N. Macedonia organized discussions on associated topics and raised valid questions in terms of next developments regarding legislation, mindset for business over social aspects and best examples from other more developed ecosystems. Hence, female entrepreneurship was also addressed during the events of CEED Hub Skopje, Association of Women in Business and Women in Tech Macedonia.
As education is the foundation for making better policies but also widening horizons, this year there was great accent on this topic too. In that manner, the Center for Digital Education Dig-Ed organized a discussion with representatives from primary, high schools and academia on how to be more innovative. The Economic Faculty at the University of Goce Delchev in Shtip organized two lectures with entrepreneurs that answered questions to students and shared their personal stories. The University American College Skopje invited Mr. Tobias Degsell, the CEO of Combiner and former Director of the Nobel Prize Museum from Sweden to share his story about cooperation and innovation with the audience.
In terms of ecosystems connection, partners shared their visions, critics and ideas on how to improve some of the cooperation established in the past between stakeholders from different background, such as academia and private sector, followed by active engagement from the public sector. One interesting discussion in this manner, was organized by Innofeit and Business Accelerator UKIM; the advantages of connecting the ecosystem stakeholders and the entrepreneurs organized by Duel Consulting and the two events organized by GiZ North Macedonia. These discussions raised valid points that would be subject to further exploration in the years to come. One organization offered very interesting approach in terms of education, more towards personal fulfillment and planning, the Co-Creators whose trainers discussed the importance of working towards achieving personal goals.
Hence, there were many other topics that were relevant but not directly connected to the global themes as announced by the Global Entrepreneurship Network. As year 2020 was a year marked by the pandemic, two partners offered discussions related to the pandemic. So, X Factor Accelerator organized a discussion in regards to investing in time of pandemics, while First Five Association organized a discussion related to Business Planning in times of COVID-19. As the pandemic accelerated the growth of e-commerce, the Association of E-Commerce offered a training during the GEW, so that entrepreneurs can learn more about this topic. Hence, innovations are also in scope of interest for boosting entrepreneurship, so Civitta offered a training from Mr. Justinas Lapienis for the BOWI approach. As Startup Macedonia is also working on the partnerships between startups and corporates, an event from Oracle was organized for the startups in terms of relevance of startups for the digital transformation of corporates.
In a nutshell, this year the GEW N. Macedonia was the largest entrepreneurship initiative that brought together stakeholders from all areas to exchange contacts, ideas and cooperation opportunities. The program was rich in content and inclusive, hence tackled some challenges that will be subject to further exploration from the partners.
Thank you all and see you again next year!