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MedUP! has been involved in the organisation, together with the Danish-Arab Partnership Programme, of the four days meeting within the YPE Project learning event: youth participation, employment and social enterprises in the MENA Region, held in Florence from the 2nd to the 5th of July.

The four days event, within the YPE annual meeting, has been a very intense learning experience. All countries involved and its partners had the chance to listen and learn from each other experiences. A mix of ideas, inputs, good practices, questions, doubts etc.

The meeting started with a day trip to Pistoia. For the occasion, we visited five local Social Enterprises of different kinds: language school at, kids’ interventional education, manufacturing with marginalized people and preservation of ancient manufacturing traditions.

Divided into groups, we had the opportunity to listen to their stories and challenges, getting to know their services, but most of all their people and souls. It has been very inspiring for all Partners, other than an important lesson learned to bring back to their home country.

From the second day on, we moved to conference and debated modality, going through a number of case studies, presented by each country partner that highlighted some of the pragmatic strategies and impacts of YPE program approach. Later on, delegates of the Yunus Social Business Centre University of Florence ARCO Action Research for CO-development Banca EticaRegione Toscana and Giovanisì – Regione Toscana presented case-studies related to private and public experience on Social Entrepreneurship, focusing on: legal framework for SE, financing SE and multi-stakeholder approach for social economy. Finally Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine talked about their experience on community finance and social enterprises and entrepreneurial ecosystem for SE.

Third and second last day has been very intense. We first focused on some cross subjects, such as ‘mentoring and coaching’ for want-to-be social entrepreneurs. Also, we had the opportunity to listen to some experiences on how Oxfam programs engaged with the private sector, such as: startup support and social innovation with Industrio and Centro per la Cooperazione Internazionale, coffee value chain and market governance in the Dominican Republic and Haiti with our colleague from Oxfam Haiti and finally, the partnership with Lavazza.

The third day ended with a very inspiring visit to the co-working space Impact Hub Florence, where our guide Dario told us their story, how the place was born and how they keep it a growing and sustainable place.

Finally, we dedicated the very last day to debates and discussions on consolidated learning and MEAL, which was very helpful for all Partners to start developing an action plan to strengthen youth participation, employment and social enterprise programs in the MENA Region.

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