Entrepreneurs who change Romania

Horatiu Pitea, Young owner, giving advice to young entrepreneurs in a networking event organized by Fundatia Danis.

Horatiu Pitea, Young’s owner, giving advice to young entrepreneurs in a networking event organized by Fundatia Danis.

This is a story of a successful collaboration, and of a beautiful friendship between a Romanian SME and a Romanian youth organization – Young, and Fundatia Danis. If the steps of collaboration are common, not so common it is its purpose. In Romania, rarely one organization can reach the “heart” of a SME owner without an emotional story for a social or humanitarian cause, and even more rarely a company will accept to co-finance a project already co-funded by the European Commission. 🙂

Young is a young enterprise from the advertising sector, working in the North Western part of Romania. Fundatia Danis is a youth organization focused on entrepreneurship education for young people, being involved in local, national, but also European projects.

The work done together

At the end of 2015, Young was approached by Fundatia Danis to financially support their campaign called Entrepreneurs who change Romania. The objective of the campaign was to raise funds from 8-10 companies from Cluj-Napoca to co-finance a project, part of the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs European Programme. The project aimed at supporting 35 young Romanian entrepreneurs to develop their businesses or business ideas, through international coaching experiences. Young knew the organization from previous interactions, through the personal contact the CEO and CFO had with the programs director of Fundatia Danis, but also through the networking business events Fundatia Danis organized in 2014-2016, which Young CEO & CFO participated in.

“We chose to respond to Fundatia Danis’ solicitation, because we trusted the organization, because the project was presented professionally, and because we saw the long-term impact potential of the project – both for the community, supporting new businesses in our region, and for us – reaching young and other experienced entrepreneurs from the project that could become our business partners. Also, for us, it was really important who is asking for our support. It is always like that. In this case, we knew the organization from other interactions, we knew their good reputation and good network, we knew the team, we knew what they can do, and we knew our money will be well invested”. (Mihaela Aron, CFO, Young)

The SME owner met Fundatia Danis’ program director, in order to get more information about the project, about the entrepreneurs involved in the project, but also to express directly his interest in the project – developing the company’s network with local and regional businesses. The SME owner together with the program director decided to add to the project a new activity: a networking event with all the entrepreneurs supported within the project, but also with other local companies that decided to join the project as sponsors.

In the first year, Young supported the project with 500 euro, and at the end of 2016, the enterprise contributed with other 700 euro, to the total co-financing needed by Fundatia Danis – 9000 euro.  Also, the CEO of the company, the SME owner – Horatiu Pitea, showed interest in learning more about the young entrepreneurs supported, and he participated in the networking events organized in the project, providing advices, and networking support for the new entrepreneurs.

What the two organizations accomplished together

The collaboration between the two partners contributed to the professional development of 35 young entrepreneurs, supporting them to develop their businesses or business ideas in international exchanges with experienced entrepreneurs from different EU countries. Moreover, by the end of the project 18 businesses have been already set-up or developed by the young entrepreneurs. Also, the collaboration contributed to the development of the business network of young entrepreneurs, but also of Young enterprise.

Young was very satisfied with the results of the project, with the entrepreneurs and new businesses supported in their city, and they accepted to share their story because they wanted to show that their “heart” can also be reached by non-social and non-humanitarian causes, if the project can prove immediate value to them, and if the organization is professionally in spending and in reporting the money received, showing clearly the impact of the project.

Young and Fundatia Danis are still in contact and working on their friendship :). Young owner, but also other members from his team constantly participate in networking events and formal and informal meetings, most of the time organized or initiated by the youth organization.

What we can learn from the story

  • SMEs have their specific interests, and youth organizations should inquire and listen to discover these interests
  • Youth organizations’ professionalism and work transparency are well perceived and appreciated
  • Projects with long-term benefits both for the community and for the company are of interests for the SMEs
  • Youth organizations should be open to tailor the activities or add new activities to the project, in accordance with the SME’s interests
  • Youth organizations should update the companies about projects’ developments and results, but also about the organizations’ activities and results
  • Youth organizations should find and create as many as possible diverse meeting opportunities with company’s representatives

Read the complete case study and the analysis of the study in CoOp Best Practices Guide.