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Enhancing Competitiveness of Microenterprises in Rural Areas
Start date: Nov 1, 2016, End date: Oct 31, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

BACKGROUNDMicroenterprises are the backbone of EU economy, representing 90% of EU firms and providing 53% of EU jobs. Microenterprises face considerable challenges in their growth and competitiveness:1)Increased global competition and transition to knowledge economy are transforming the working life of microenterprises that need different occupational skills with more medium/high-level qualifications2)Economic crisis has a huge adverse impact on microenterprises, the first to suffer from stagnation due to their sizeThe EU recognises the need to boost microenterprises’ growth through training: in “Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan-Reigniting Entrepreneurial Spirit”, 2013, “Identification of Future Skills Needs in Micro/Craft-Type Enterprises up to 2020”, DG Enterprise clearly identifies specific needs and puts forward solutions in the “development of tools and skills trainings structures with a special focus on micro and craft-type enterprises”.Rural microenterprises face even higher challenges due to lack of access to support mechanisms, services and training.In “Continuing education and training in rural areas”Oct 2015, the EU Economic & Social Committee stresses that “governments need to recognise that investing in development of micro-, family and small businesses in rural and remote areasis a good long-term investment to stop migration, reduce pressures on services in cities, restore economic sustainability to local communities and help preserve the rural environment”.Also, the EU clearly states that “there is a requirement to develop new training for rural micro- and small businesses based on empirical evidence of the tasks that are actually carried out in these businesses. Training for rural businesses must be delivered locally, using ICT”.OBJECTIVEMICRO’s objective is to sustain growth and competitiveness of rural microenterprises by developing practical training resources to be delivered both face-to-face and through the Open Educational Resource. MICRO will bridge the capacity gaps to sustain growth and competitiveness of rural microenterprises while overcoming their isolationPARTICIPANTSMICRO partnership represents highly motivated and experienced partners from 6 countries, each with specific expertise and success stories about microentrepreneurship and bridging the “rural gap”. The partnership combines training/pedagogical accuracy (academic partner and VET providers) with market relevance (microenterprises) and rural penetration. This composition ensures geographical coverage as well as projection of dissemination and valorisation across the EU. Partners have complementary skills and expertise that empowers MICRO to achieving objective through sound and practical deliverables.ACTIVITIESA)Identify specific knowledge gaps and capacity needs of microenterprises in rural areasB) Design innovative multilingual training content, material and web based tools / OER platformC) Test and validate the main results with at least 200 microenterprises in rural areas in 6 countriesMETHDOLOGYMICRO relies on a practical, yet scientifically accurate, methodological approach: such a balance is provided by the type of partners involved (academic, business, NGOs and facilitators or rural development). MICRO’s methodology is sequenced along the following steps:--> gap assessment--> development of training (demand driven)--> pilot for user-based validation--> finalisation--> full roll-out and deployment through OERRESULTSMICRO’s results will be practical and relevant training solutions for microenterprises in rural areas, in multilingual versions and freely available without restrictions through the OER platform, that will also become the platform for the community of practice of microenterprises in rural areas by attracting / inviting stakeholders (VET, users, facilitators) from all over EUIMPACT&BENEFITMICRO will engage at least 200 microentrepreneurs (and entrepreneurs to be)to enhance their competitiveness and nurture their growth. MICRO will generate immediate and tangible impact at local levels reaching out to target groups and relevant stakeholders. Partners have already committed to maintaining the MICRO OER platform for at least 2 years after the end of the Erasmus+ cofinancing to sustain project results; the valorisation plan envisions the scaling up of the Platform to engae and involve other stakehodlers and contributors (VET providers, facilitators, microenterrprises, etc) to ensure that the tangible results are sustained well beyond project lifetime. The involvement of a nation-wide rural link and private sector guarantees sustainability of the project.

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