Establishing non formal network between public sector and SME's and creating better services for entreperenurship development in rural mountain area
Problem and context:
Local development agency PINS is established in mountain area of Gorski kotar in western Croatia. Agency mission is to develop rural mountain area by supporting entrepreneurship. In this mountain area it’s hard to develop entrepreneurship and services with high added value for SME’s. For this reason, Pins develop new benefits for local SME’s – membership in Pins network. New approach through new partnerships has been developed. Starting in June 2016, Local development agency Pins start to promote and develop network for SME’s. This non formal network provides different services for local SME’s like regularly informing SME’s about business opportunities, financing, preparing projects, non formal educations of network members etc. This new created network is funding with income from members fee and partly from income which Local development agency Pins receive from selling entrance tickets for natural
site which is in total up to 5000 € per year. This money within Pins network is investing for preparation of new projects, which we prepared together with members. Nowadays 4 different projects are implemented in the area. These projects are funded by ERDF or national funds in total of
125.000 €. Thanks to development of informal network and new projects SME’s receive free business support service like mentorship, market advise support, promotion on fairs, business plans and promotion on web shop (https://www.pins-skrad.hr/webshop.php).
This network is just 10% funded by local public funds. All network activities are funded through different projects and income which is generated from managing public natural site. Education for local coordinator and new contacts is prerequisite for the success.
Evidence of success
The network has overcome the phase of no-cooperation, realized the benefits of working together. Members started dialogue and use of new services. Two of members (small businesses) during 2017 already applied for EU grants for food production. Network coordinator also apply for EU grants for development of new innovative services for SME’s and already implement 4 EU funded projects in the area. At the beginning of 2019 Pins received 50.000 Euros funded project for supporting local SME's.
In 2017 network have 10 members. Network faced lower member focus at this time. The network should invest more in presentation to other stakeholders (SME’s, local municipalities and R&D institutions). They needed to formalize the cooperation, securing that participating members were CEOs.
Potential for learning or transfer
1 The process of realizing the need for cooperation to increase sustainability: In addition to the individual focus, Pins started to focus on a common goal - satisfied customers (SME’s) and satisfy founder (municipality). Pins focus on the business services for SME’s but also on sustainability of the agency which is established through new informal network.
2 The process of moving from informal to formal cooperation:
With increasing no. of Pins-members, they needed to formalize rules on confidentiality, make formal agendas and to introduce minutes. With access to funding, professional reports were necessary. In this process the rooted common guest-focus was priceless.
3 The process of re-investing income from managing public nature site: funds are reused to finance network activities and develop services which will contribute to better future competitiveness of local SME's.
Please login to see the expert opinion of this good practice.