Ongoing MED Confederation Projects

La Caixa Foundation explained has long facilitated access to employment to the people who need it most: the disabled, youth experiencing problems in entering the job market, the long-term unemployed, the over-45s, women in situations of domestic abuse, and ex-convicts. La Caixa Foundation would like to expand its already existing programme (“Incorpora”) into the Mediterranean region by taking stock of experiences and determining the best method for enhancing already existing programmes or creating new ones.

Incorpora has already created 400,000 salaried jobs, sometimes involving associations that set up the companies that employ them, other times local authorities or social organisations. Shareholders are those who started the particular project. State subsidies are often involved, but this is usually temporary, because the entire purpose of the programme is to get individuals established in a job and after a few years they become independent. Social enterprises launched by associations or foundations (which are perhaps structures that need to be created) are not driven exclusively by profit but by social added value.

The SLI project proposes a two-pillar approach: First, identify best practices in Mediterranean countries and hold a working group meeting to identify a country where partners could be shortlisted and a pilot scheme implemented. Second, La CaixaFoundation supports companies that promote social change, thus it could partner with existing companies or work with entities in the region to create them. La Caixa Foundation is documenting success stories to identify potential partners.

This project is an example of what is at the heart of the MED Confederation’s strategy: how to transfer successes in Europe and adapt them to the south.

The YPEwill set up gateways involving regular meetings and exchanges with groups that deal with related themes, mainly but not limited to integration and corporate social responsibility. Non-exclusive points that need to be taken further:

  1. University education and the integration of educational requirements related to the economy: industries; entrepreneurship in university programmes; social economy; SMEs; use of ICTs: move towards an e-society; university exchanges including visas and grants; research programmes with specifications from companies or finance initiatives like exclusion or social responsibility.
  2. Post-university training and professional adaptation: accompanied by companies (training centres like GIFAS in Morocco); regions and territories (technoparks); incubators and business creation support outfits; the social economy in job creation. Specific programmes:
    • Women; second chances for high school dropouts; messages on staff retention and turnover trends (adapt national regulations?).
    • Internship issues: tutoring; moralization; North-South & South-North exchanges; visas.
    • Debate on the brain drain: positive or negative?
    • The role of the Diaspora.
  3. Role of chambers of commerce:
    • European network plus specific agreements such as between the Barcelona and Hamburg Chambers of Commerce; training courses and exchanges; participation in defining industries with training needs; SMEs as natural outlets for young educated people.
    • Production on themes to be determined: business park, co-production and investment, etc.

The YPE project is a two-way street: not just south to north but north to south.

The ECN project is setting up three high-level working groups. The method: one expert per topic will write a working paper to be debated at a roundtable of high-level experts whose mission will be to refine the working paper into an actionable policy document that could grow into MED Confederation projects on the ground in 2015. IEMed is arranging roundtables for the three groups to address:

  1. Financial sector reforms, private equity and mobile banking: on 16-17 June, Promos (Milan Chamber of Commerce), which has expressed interest in becoming a MED Confederation member, will host the working group roundtable. WSBI, as the global voice in retail banking, will be involved.
  2. Public administration reform: Tentatively scheduled for October, with host and site to be determined; possible participants include the European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA), the American University in Cairo, the OECD. E-governance, transparency, anti-corruption are among the possible topics.
  3. Urban agenda: Tentatively scheduled for December in Casablanca; possible participants include the EBRD, the Centre for Mediterranean Integration (Marseille), UN Habitat/Arab League in Cairo, and the Union for the Mediterranean.

The BIN project aims to increase interaction in the entrepreneurship ecosystem and use incubators to do it via a region-wide network. The MED Confederation’s competitive advantage is that no such network exists. Entrepreneurship is the best means and there is a real need for support. TEPAV, which also runs the GARAJ Incubation Programme in Ankara, leads the project with its partner Activa, a leading incubator in Barcelona.

The network will be based on open membership by well-defined criteria. The network will target incubation centres and other member ecosystem players and commence with the following basic functions: strategic dialogue; documentation and sharing of best-practices; policy dialogue and advocacy, e.g. startup visas.

Once the network is operational, it may offer further benefits to entrepreneurs in the member incubation centres: new markets (soft-landing); new skills (especially developers; mixed teams); new investment (cross-country angel and VC funding). The project will at first take quick steps with small budgets, start with virtual meetings, and connect to existing initiatives (EU Horizon 2020).

A workshop to formulate a set of concrete projects and partners will take place in Turkey in fall 2014.The workshop will lead to sponsored separate projects such as a handbook of best practices, opportunities for technical assistance, a road map toward a major event in 2015.