I am Maria Ivanov, an aspiring entrepreneur from Republic of Moldova. After my graduation, I participated in a six-month EYE exchange in Derby,UK, having Baby J as host entrepreneur.

Throughout this period, I got the opportunity to have such a great experience at Baby People, in the UK. Being a recent graduate and thinking about working with the artists’ communities (something that is not quite developed in my home country) – it was very important to me to gain more experience and I was very lucky to be able to see and observe, during the six months period, how an arts organisation functions.

I found this experience really helpful in developing my business concept. Shadowing Baby J and working with everyone within the organisation helped me find missing parts in my business; I believe that one of the most important things that I’ve learnt is that the desire to help, care and bring value to your community and the world, and the enthusiasm for what you do – are the best foundation for developing and achieving anything.

During these six months, I have managed to learn much more about the artistic filed and its components – towards a better, a more sustainable and a more appropriate range of products and services; about how large and diverse it can be and how many opportunities could be developed; I had opportunities to meet a number of local, socially engaged artists and I got to observe the reaction that the artistic projects have on the community. It was unexpected to have the opportunity to learn about the arts industry in UK at so many different levels – music, film, visual arts, art management, arts education. By carrying out the activities within the business I managed to observe how to successfully approach partners and how to maintain strong, productive relationships and collaborations.

By learning about what the organisation is doing for the young people, I gained much more motivation and I am more inspired to work with communities and focus my concept around it; now I am leaning towards developing my business as a social enterprise. The time at Baby People and all the shared experiences and knowledge helped me take my ideas into a new direction, and develop and give a stronger sense of purpose and meaning to my business.