Hello again! Maybe you don’t know me, maybe you have already read my first article about my experience in the Advanced Planning Visit (APV) for the project Bees Inspired: A Hive for Female Entrepreneurs funded by Erasmus+. The youth exchange (YE) was held in Ommen, The Netherlands during the last two weeks of January 2017, and the topic of the YE was focused on female entrepreneurship.
I am Petra Bilikova, and here comes a summary of my experience in the YE being youth leader of the Czech group and what I learned in the process:
1) Girls power!
Well, the really special thing on this YE was that all the participants were just females. And I am sure it came to your mind: Is it possible to spend nearly two weeks in one place more than 40 girls without any arguments? Yes, it is.. we did it! Of course, it was not totally perfect, but all in all when we heard someone speaking more loudly, it was just Italian part of our participants trying to explain something to the other girls. Haha, we loved them!
2) Confront them with the reality
During the YE, the participants spent 24 hours a day together, in one place, and they were not allowed to leave the venue much, just for a walk in the city, running etc. The reason of this in every project is to keep the group dynamics while working and stay focused. But it does not mean nobody can enter your group from the outside world.
We had two different days in the YE, when outside people took part in our sessions. On the first occasion, 4 real female entrepreneurs came to our venue to meet us, introduced their entrepreneurial journey and gave us feedback on our own projects. The second session was about marketing, branding and storytelling. Experienced Katerina came to present and practically show how we can use the concept of storytelling for our own business ideas. It was visible that both sessions made the girls more driven and it raised our working dynamic demonstrably.
3) No schedule is our schedule
I have already mentioned in my previous article, that we did not have any schedule during APV. On the other side the schedule for YE was well designed, because we (as youth leaders who were in charge of creating the workshops) needed to know what will happen what time. The thing was, we did not tell the exact agenda to our participants. Why? Well, it has an easy explanation. If the girls know, e.g. this session is designed from 1 pm to 4 pm, and we found in reality they needed more time to work on it, we didn’t want to cut the working process in the middle. We discovered that by not giving the girls an agenda, they are not so stressed, and this rule helped enormously their learning process. So just keep calm and make it happen!
4) Let them breathe!
Okay, the best point in the end! It is also a kind of connected to point 2 about confrontation with the reality. During our YE we had 2 days for a travelling in our groups to any other city in Netherlands. First travel day was about going to the city, where we could do any practical research or action to improve our group business ideas. My group went to Utrecht to do marketing research about our product. We also visited places connected to the topic of our business idea and gain a lot of useful contacts and hints.
The second day was about making promotional video clip for our product. We went to a lovely city called Leeuwarden. Of course while making the video clip we visited a lot of cosy cafes, took hundreds of photos and had so much fun!
So January 2017 is over. It’s said “Man is defined by actions, not by words.” I believe this January will stay in the mind of our girls from around of Europe for a long time. And not just this, I strongly believe outcomes of our YE will be multiplied by their actions. I would also say, we showed them the way, now they have to walk alone.
The truth is, bees are never alone. Let’s see! Let’s bee together!
This blog post reflects some of the experiences of the participants of Bees Inspired: A Hive for Female Entrepreneurs, which was a 10-day youth exchange that took place in The Netherlands from 18 till 27 January 2017. It gathered 42 participants from 7 different countries and empowered them to learn from each other about female entrepreneurship. The project is funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.