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As part of the VUB Chair of Social Entrepreneurship’s activities, 10 VUB students will travel to Bolivia in the first week of December to work on a project that supports vulnerable entrepreneurs. Under the supervision of Professor Dr. Nikolay Dentchev, a project is currently focusing on the development of an ecosystem to support vulnerable entrepreneurs in Bolivia, one of the poorest countries in South America.
With a total population of around 10 million people (almost the same as Belgium), Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and the world. According to the World Bank, almost 40% of the population live in poor and vulnerable conditions. Chances are limited that they can change their living situation. “In such cases, strong entrepreneurship often offers a way out and it is exactly what people in poorer areas have talent for”, according to Abel Diaz Gonzalez and Philippe Eiselein. Both are researchers from the VUB Chair of Social Entrepreneurship and are strongly committed to the organization of the project.
That is why at the end of October they are co-organizing an entrepreneurship fair “Yo Emprendo” in the Bolivian city of Tarija, where 60 entrepreneurs are offered a unique opportunity to show their products and exchange ideas and give/get feedback to improve their chances of success. The 3 best projects receive a seed capital from the local government, a start-up capital of €1000, with which they can make their plans a reality.
Support the project
”But because we noticed during the pre-selection phase that there are a lot of good initiatives among the participants, it is our goal in the run-up to the fair to get as much money as possible through the VUB Social Entrepreneurship Platform. That way we can also support other initiatives” says Abel and Philippe. Nevertheless, the people from the VUB can also put their money in the bag in a simple way.
“We are very pleased that the VUB restaurant was immediately supportive to our project. Anyone who chooses the solidarity menu in the VUB restaurant between Monday 15 and Friday 19 October ensures that 50 eurocents are donated per meal to this project. In other words, with a simple meal everyone supports this initiative directly. And we are very grateful to the restaurant team for that!”
At the beginning of December, 10 VUB students will travel to South America to follow one of the projects for a week. “The intention is that these students will assist in daily activities and assist entrepreneurs with advice and feedback on their business plans,” said Abel and Philippe.
This project is organized under the Global Minds program at the VUB and offers the selected students financial support to cover their airfares and accommodation during their stay in Bolivia. Back in Belgium, these students will write their master thesis, related to the research and activities in Tarija, and further search for alternative solutions to support entrepreneurs in Bolivia in a more sustainable way.