The core change that SEECEL brought to the ecosystems in South East Europe and Turkey has been to apply structured regional cooperation modalities and a multilateral structured partnership in the field of human capital development. SEECEL’s work can be classified into three levels:
- It supports inclusion of entrepreneurial learning at all levels of education (from primary to higher education) as well as in teacher training (with learning outcomes developed and tested), thereby developed entrepreneurial schools, entrepreneurial teachers and entrepreneurial students;
- It supports the upgrading of skills for SMEs through training needs analysis, which brings the evidence based policy making principle closer to the policy makers in developing human capital programs for SMEs, including for women entrepreneurs;
- It supports and strengthens regional policy learning, ownership and cooperation for developing entrepreneurial learning and SME skills, especially through peer learning/peer review.
The South East European Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (SEECEL) is a regional non-profit institution to support a structured and strategic form of cooperation in the field of human capital development, particularly on lifelong entrepreneurial learning. In this sense, SEECEL is itself the main ‘implementing agency’. However, the following national stakeholders in the eight countries of South East Europe and Turkey are in charge of steering SEECEL’s activity programme and implementing in the field:
- Ministries: 16 appointed ministry representatives from each SEECEL member state (with one member from each country's ministry of education and one from the ministry of economy) are members of SEECEL’s international steering committee, nominate partners institutions and appoint national policy experts to support the assessment of national policies related to entrepreneurial learning and SME skills (the SBA assessment, led by the OECD).
- Partner schools/universities/teacher training authorities: A total of 136 educational institutions (schools, faculties and teacher training authorities) participated in piloting entrepreneurial learning.
- Chambers/Business support organisations: it is crucial for the public and private sectors to work hand in hand. For this reason, at least one business support association per country was involved in the training needs analysis activities (12 business support associations in total), and collected 4892 feedbacks from entrepreneurs.
Ms Efka Heder is the Director of the South East European Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (SEECEL) and together with her team, national and international experts, as well as all relevant stakeholders from 8 countries led the thematic discussions and processes using the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) and Evidence Based Policy Making (EBPM) approach. Under Ms Heder’s leadership, SEECEL has become a leading regional institution for human capital development and lifelong entrepreneurial learning, and has received international recognition (being awarded by several awards and through cooperation with leading policymakers and expert institutions) for its work. Ms Heder was nominated in October 2016 as one of the five finalists for the Startup Nations Award for Groundbreaking Policy Thinking.
Overall, the non-financial support encompasses the application of the open method of coordination and evidence-based policy making in all acvtivites. Firstly, an 'entrepreneurial learning package' was developed regionally, which is the set of learning outcomes, teaching and learning methods and assessment methods for each level of education. Furthermore, teacher training programmes have been developed in order for teachers to be able to embed the entrepreneurial learning package into their classes. School management training framework was developed for managers of educational institutions (including higher education institutions) to understand how to apply and thus develop the entrepreneurial school/faculty.
Another type of support is the organising and facilitating the development of the training needs analysis questionnaire and coordination of its implementation. Finally, SEECEL facilitated development of policy indicators for the SME Policy Index assessment in the domain of human capital, which made a direct contribution to evidence-based policy making and to applying the open method of coordination. Also, SEECEL organised and facilitated policy learning between different national experts engaged in the SME Policy Assessment for the human capital dimension.
• 2008: The Croatian Ministry of Economy, Labor and Entrepreneurship finances the independent feasibility study for the establishment of a regional facility for entrepreneurial learning for the countries of South East Europe and Turkey.
• 2009: Upon the request of countries of South East Europe and Turkey (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey) SEECEL is founded in Zagreb, Croatia by two co-founders; the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Crafts of the Republic of Croatia and the Croatian Chamber of Economy, with full representation of relevant ministries for economy/entrepreneurship and education from each SEECEL member state, as well as the representatives of the European Commission (DG NEAR and DG GROW), European Training Foundation (ETF), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) composing the SEECEL Steering Committee.
• 2009-2013: First phase of SEECEL activity programme funded by the European Commission (EC) grant (through IPA Multi-beneficiary programme); the modality of financing 85% European Commission and 15% the Republic of Croatia.
• 2011: Second feasibility study carried out on developing regional infrastructure for entrepreneurial learning and developing the technical documentation for constructing the SEECEL Building, which sets the foundation for SEECEL to become a Europe-wide centre for entrepreneurial learning. The construction of the building starts in December 2014, with a total value of the investment worth more than 30 million euro ensured through European Structural Funds, co-financed by the Republic of Croatia.
• 2012: Political commitment to the entrepreneurship agenda has been confirmed through the Charter for Entrepreneurial Learning: the Keystone for Growth and Jobs, jointly signed by ministries from all countries in the region in 2012.
• 2012- 2015: SEECEL expands the area of work on fostering the women entrepreneurship with special focus put on training, promoting good practice examples and developing the policy indicators for women entrepreneurship that were officially embedded in the last SBA Assessment for Western Balkan and Turkey. The value of the project was 1 million euro, 100% grant awarded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)
• 2013-2016: Second phase of SEECEL activities funded by two European Commission (EC) grant contracts signed through IPA Multi-beneficiary programme, the same financial modality applied with 85% European Commission and 15% the Republic of Croatia; expressions of interest for official inclusion in SEECEL activities received not only from other European countries, but also from the Middle East and Asia to establish strategic cooperation with SEECEL.
• 2015: SEECEL becomes one of the four lead partners of the European Entrepreneurship Education NETwork (EE-HUB).The EE-HUB is a focal point for entrepreneurship education in Europe bringing together organisations and individuals from both the public and private sectors with strong records of accomplishment in entrepreneurship education at regional, national and European level. The network of individual experts are committed to entrepreneurial learning and engaged with organisations or sister networks in the field and/or with national or regional governments. In addition, MEP Ambassadors endorse and promote recommendations of the EE-HUB through their policy work. The project is financed by the European Commission through COSME programme.
• 2015-2016: Presidents of the chambers of commerce/economy of the countries of South East Europe and Turkey sign the memorandum of understanding with SEECEL to cooperate on the SME skills agenda; SEECEL organizes regional ministerial conference for signing a renewed regional Charter for entrepreneurial learning.
• 2016: SEECEL becomes the partner in a project entitled « Strengthening the capacities of the chambers and partners to help SMEs to engage in apprenticeship» led by the Croatian Chamber of Economy (CCE). The Project aims at strengthening the capacities of all project partners to provide support for SMEs already engaged or planning to engage in apprenticeships. The project is financed by the European Commission through Erasmus+ programme.
According to the SME Policy Index: Western Balkans and Turkey (OECD et al., 2012), the region faces significant challenges in supporting SME development and the implementation of reforms and enforcement of laws still remain weak. With regards to developing entrepreneurial learning and SME skills, although some progress has been made, their performance in these areas still needs systematic support. The biggest challenge is translating policy into concrete reforms needed to deliver entrepreneurial learning at the school level. There is also a need to develop more systematic approach to mapping SME training needs and to monitoring effectiveness of SME training.
The South East European Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (SEECEL) arose from the interest of the countries of South East Europe and Turkey to establish a structured and strategic form of cooperation in the field of human capital development, particularly on lifelong entrepreneurial learning. Established as a regional non-profit institution, SEECEL’s mission is to work on the systematic development of lifelong entrepreneurial learning, on entrepreneurship as a key competence, and on the alignment of policies and practices with those of the EU through structured regional cooperation. SEECEL’s vision is to build entrepreneurially literate societies by strengthening entrepreneur-friendly environments and entrepreneurial mind-sets that lead to sustainable economic growth and development.
All SEECEL publications (including strategic plan, entrepreneurial learning instruments, reports of SEECEL results, and policy analyses) are publically available here: http://seecel.hr/documents-5053