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Entrepreneurship with vision - methods and tools for managerial capacity building of agricultural producers in Central and Eastern Europe
Start date: Sep 1, 2015, End date: Aug 31, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

European farmers and their successors live in a changing market environment and have to prepare for the new Common Agricultural Policy after 2015, allowing more freedom to produce products of own choice and quantity. The new EU countries experience this even more. Especially the situation in less favored regions, often in remote areas with relative small farms, is complex. Such families are found in large numbers in Central- and Eastern Europe. Then the ability to apply entrepreneurial skills is a key factor for survival. One component of entrepreneurship deals with strategic choices. However, farmers focus on day by day management and operational, rather than strategic decisions. Capacity to take initiative is also a large challenge. The Interactive Strategic Management (ISM) method was introduced in 3 Central-Eastern EU countries within Leonardo da Vinci Transfer of Innovation ISM Project in 2011-13, to instruct dairy farmers and advisors how to prepare a farm strategy. The trainings were very positively evaluated. Also, scientifically based positive effects were measured on competencies’ development of the farmers. Based on these positive experiences we built the current proposal. The sustainability of the developed innovative method would be enhanced by adding more languages and farm sectors. The new concept of “networking” through interaction with professional outsiders would support the development of social competencies and initiative. Marketing know-how for choosing consumer oriented activities and economic calculations should receive more emphasis in the training process. Therefore, the aims of this ISM+ project and linked activities are to: • assess the local framework conditions by a context analysis in order to adapt the ISM method and understand the outcomes of the training process; • extend the ISM method to farmers and students in a variety of agricultural sectors; • make the ISM method more applicable to market oriented development paths; • add a business planning module for economic assessment of farmer choices; • make the training applicable to a larger language area in Europe; • introduce the concept of networking to stimulate social entrepreneurship; • improve competency in entrepreneurship of advisors, teachers, farmers, and agricultural students; • evaluate the effect of the trainings and use of tools; • create an internationally oriented website to disseminate the project methods and results. Innovative marketing and networking methods will be included in the educational package. Countries involved in the ISM+ project are Poland, Slovenia, Lithuania and Austria, representing the small sized farming sectors, which especially need support in entrepreneurship development. The other involved countries are The Netherlands, which plays a role of the method owner and guidance, and a German/French partner that has wide experience with (home) marketing and cooperation, adding this know-how to the consortium. The target groups are agricultural teachers and advisors on one hand and farmers and vocational agricultural students, on the other hand. The “outside professional world” will be interactively involved in networking sessions. The project consortium consists of organizations in the fields of research, education, economics, know-how transfer and agro-business. Participation of the agricultural universities (Wageningen, Ljubljana and Warsaw) and the Economic Institute in Vilnius, on the one hand, and professional farmer associations and extension services in all countries, on the other hand, assure smooth cooperation, innovative knowledge transfer and interaction between science and practice, which contributes to achievement of the project objectives. The positive experiences from cooperation in the previous project add to a solid fundament for this new project. This ISM+ project focuses on product development serving the ERASMUS+ goals. It strengthens the capacity of teachers and extension workers to help articulate and develop strategies and market opportunities. The ISM tool and materials are made applicable to a variety of sectors, the local situation and languages in the four countries, and become part of the extension packages and educational curricula. The project deals with the key action "Cooperation for innovation and exchange of good practices". It supports "Strategic partnerships" and "Knowledge and sector skills alliances", and produces outcomes related to "innovative approaches to address target groups", “use of participatory approaches and ICT-based methodologies”, “improved practices for the needs of disadvantaged groups”, and “increased capacity to work at international level”. It is expected to have a positive impact on “sense of initiative and social entrepreneurship”, “skills for employability and business creation”, and “interaction between practice, research and policy". The project will establish the framework for an EU Entrepreneurship and Strategic Manageme

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