From Portugal to the World within walls!

“Olá” desde Paredes, Portugal, where I’ve been staying since last October. At this point I’m midway my EYE exchange, which will come to an end this April.

I’m definitely happy with this experience with my host entrepreneur organization, Embaixada da Juventude (EJ), although it is impossible to not feel some kind of grievance due to the all the restrictions and difficulties caused by the pandemic situation.

But along with my testimony! Within others, EJ works a lot with Solidarity Corps and Erasmus+ exchanges, and even though many projects have been delayed, a chance to better organize and structure both the organization and upcoming projects has been taken. So, it has been a very mutually beneficial cooperation to be working in my business plan while participating in the restructuring of my host organization. This has been a great source of knowledge to apply in my future venture, in terms of management and planing skills.

Plus, taking into account that my venture idea aims to create a social enterprise that will serve as a hub for young workers in (semi-)rural areas, helping and connecting them with businesses in their home town, my participation in various EJ activities, mainly through semi-oriented on-line meetings with local youth is giving me the opportunity to meet young people that live in a semi-rural area and talking with them to gather more knowledge about their general wants and needs in terms of labour market integration or transition. A valuable knowledge in terms of market research and so marketing strategies and plans.

Also, as soon as I started, my host entrepreneur gradually involved me in EU funded programs knowledge and applications that can be useful for young workers and youth in general and one of the support/counselling services I can provide to my future clients, as well as one of the sources of funding and innovation exploration for my enterprise. Being the financial aspects a considerable dimension of my needs regarding management skills, we’ve working quite a lot on this and it will be an ongoing process. Thankfully, because I’m not a finance genius at all!

Regarding my participation in EJ’s application processes, I cannot leave out the fact that recently we’re actually working on an application to a national program aimed at activating youth in NEET situations, which has been awesome when it comes to my own idea, it has been a possibility to contribute and at the same time better my project and explore new ideas. A true blessing!

As for the rest of the exchange, once again I have to acknowledge the pandemic and the recent general confinement established in Portugal is going to be a hard constraint, specially when it comes to the planned activities regarding networking. I’ll have to rely on digital communications and meetings, and counting on mine and my host entrepreneur creativity to come up with innovative ideas to reach potential partners within my business idea.

Last but not least, one of the most fun activities has been renovating the EJ headquarters, turning it into a more fresh, comfortable and eye pleasing place: painting walls, re-purposing and renovating furniture, which besides the obvious results was also a great team-building activity, bringing me closer to the EJ’s team!