Tuesday | 23 Jul 2024

INVESTMED Mid-Term event held to boost sustainable entrepreneurship completed successfully

On the 10th and 11th July 2023, the INVESTMED project held its second regional event in Barcelona, inviting the project beneficiaries and experts in sustainable entrepreneurship to take part in sessions on access to sustainable finance, policy recommendations to strengthen sustainable entrepreneurship, and interactive workshops to brainstorm strategies to make MSMEs in the region more resilient. The event was co-organised by INVESTMED project partners, the Euro-Mediterranean Economists Association (EMEA) and the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMED), in Sant Pau Recinte Modernista, Barcelona.

The event was opened by Prof. Rym Ayadi, President and Founder of EMEA, Roger Albinyana, Managing Director at IEMED, and Jihen Boutiba, General Secretary at BUSINESSMED. Prof. Ayadi highlighted, “Empowering Mediterranean MSMEs is like sowing seeds of growth on fertile ground; it begins with nourishing the roots with improved access to finance. When we foster financial inclusion, understand how to access credit, and simplify financial processes, we enable these seeds to flourish into a vibrant, sustainable and inclusive economy.”

To kick off the interactive sessions, EMEA led the second Advocacy Session to take place under the project, titled: Policy Recommendations to Contribute to an Enabling Environment for MSMEs in the Southern Mediterranean. This policy session had the aim of engaging with the INVESTMED project beneficiaries on the research done by EMEA and generating a lively discussion on policy recommendations for the region. Prior to the event, EMEA published 5 policy papers covering the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in the target countries, the Blue, Green and Cultural and Creative Economies, and Social Protection Schemes. In the advocacy session, moderated by Kirsty Fairhurst, Communication Officer of the INVESTMED project and Assistant Project Officer at EMEA, the experts gave an overview of their papers and recommendations to the participants followed by a Q&A session. Finally, Carlo Sessa, Senior Researcher at EMEA, presented his work on the novel concept of the regenerative economy and discussed with the entrepreneurs how to integrate these principles into their own business models.

Following that, experts on access to finance participated in a panel session discussing financial schemes for MSMEs. The session was moderated by Dr. Basma Majerbi, Professor of Finance at the University of Victoria, Canada, and included the following panellists:

  • Taryn Andersen, CEO and Co-founder, Impulse4Women
  • Natalia Olson, Director of Government and Institutional Partnerships, Plug and Play Tech Centre
  • Prof. Rym Ayadi, President and Founder, EMEA
  • Kwame Sarpong Barnieh, Partner, KPMG Ghana

The session discussed venture capital for MSMEs and tips for how to look for appropriate investors and at what stage in the business. Particular focus was given to how to support women in accessing finance and capital. In the question-and-answer session, the beneficiaries were interested to know about the challenges and opportunities in the context of the green transition and the fair cost of financing.

The project beneficiaries then participated in a feedback session centred on the sub-grant process. The session was led by the project coordinator, BUSINESSMED. The subgrantees were able to share their progress and actions implemented with the support of the subgrant.

The second day consisted of an interactive workshop where Spanish start-ups were invited to participate and network with the INVESTMED subgrantees. The participants were split into groups based on their sectors and were presented with a challenge they are likely to encounter as entrepreneurs in the Southern Mediterranean. The workshops were led by the INVESTMED Business Support Organisations, Fondation Diane, ICEALEX, and Westerwelle Tunis and expert entities in the fields of entrepreneurship such as MedWaves, the UNEP/MAP Regional Activity Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production and experts in green entrepreneurship, Acció, Catalonia Trade & Investment and experts in internationalization, and BlueNetCat, the innovation and transfer instrument of the Maritime Agenda of Catalonia, experts in the blue economy. The topics for the workshop were:

  • Group 1: Unlocking Local Potential: Business Strategies for Agriculture and Food Security in Local Markets.
  • Group 2: Business Development in Tourism & Video Production: Tackling Market Access and Distribution Challenges.
  • Group 3: Market Expansion and branding: Exploring Synergies between Arts, Culture, Handicrafts, and Self-care Products.
  • Group 4: Certification and Export Strategies for Expanding Markets Abroad.
  • Group 5: Innovation Harvest: Exploring Cutting-Edge Technologies in Agriculture and Water Management.
  • Group 6: Circular Economy & Impactful Synergies in Recycling and Sustainable Construction

Each group then presented their response to the case study to the group. The session allowed the entrepreneurs to network with the Spanish entrepreneurial ecosystem whilst working collaboratively on a common challenge and potentially increasing their resilience and strategic planning.

In closing the event, María Ruiz de Cossío, Senior Project Manager at the Euro-Mediterranean Economists Association, Cristina Valero, Senior Project Manager at the European Institute of the Mediterranean, and Rim Maamouri, Monitoring Evaluation Accountability and Learning Officer at BUSINESSMED and INVESTMED Project Manager, thanked all participants for taking part in the event and actively contributing to the sessions.

To cement the cultural and creativity entrepreneurial element of the event, Sara Fascetti, Freelance Artist, showcased her depiction of the event. She based her concept on the sowing of entrepreneurial seeds planted by the efforts of the INVESTMED project leading to the growth of a flourished green, blue and CCI ecosystem in the Southern Mediterranean.

The event ended with a field visit to two sites of interest in Barcelona. The cultural and creative industries participants attended a guided tour of the former Casaramona textile factory whilst the green and blue economy entrepreneurs visited the Cosmo Caixa Science and Innovation Museum.

The INVESTMED Mid-Term event was co-organised by project partners, the Euro-Mediterranean Economists Association (EMEA), and the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMED). The next time the entrepreneurs will gather will be in Tunisia at the Final Event of the INVESTMED project.