Business planning for e-networks links Central Europe with the Balkans
SOFIA, BULGARIA, 22 April 2004
A Mission-Driven Business Planning workshop for environmental civil society online networks in the Balkans took place in Rome from 25 to 28 February 2004. Three APC members in the Balkans -Bulgaria’s BlueLink.net, Croatia's ZaMirNET and Romania's StrawberryNet- together with six young electronic NGO networking initiatives from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo/a, Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro took part in the event. Representatives from two other APC members, Norbert Brazda from Slovakian group ChangeNet, and Jason Nardi from Unimondo, Italy, joined as resource people. The workshop offered participants hands-on training in designing market-based solutions and user services for non-profit networks.
The training was a direct follow-on from APC's 1999 business planning training initiative for Central Europe. Mark Surman of the Commons Group, Toronto, Canada and Jan Haverkamp of the ZHABA facilitators collective from Prague, Czech Republic lead the training, assisted by Pavel Antonov. The training was organised by the Regional Environmental Centre for Central and Eastern Europe and the Association L'Umano Dimora Lazio Onlus with funding from the Italian Ministry for the Environment and Territory.
The participation of the more experienced networks StrawberryNet and BlueLink worked positively, said leading facilitator Jan Haverkamp. "This widened the horizon for the others, and provided a good measuring stick for making a reality check on plans. StrawberryNet and BlueLink also found it important to have even more experienced resource people available in order to have a similar dynamic for themselves".
The great news is that some of the newly founded networks in the Balkans, like Albania, Kosovo/a, Bosnia, look quite strong, have staff and alternative sources of funding. "It looks like the offspring of APC members from the Balkans are very much alive and kicking," enthused former BlueLink co-ordinator Pavel Antonov.
A brief meeting of APC members from Central and Eastern Europe took place after the workshop ended. The networks present discussed the strategic directions of work of APC and their role in it. A message from the meeting was sent to the APC Executive Board meeting, stating that there is a greater potential of making APC membership more beneficial, both to the networks and to APC. Intensifying of common work in areas like ICTs for sustainable development, good governance and corruption were identified as good opportunities to achieve this. A particular surprising result from the meeting was that three of the networks present - BlueLink, ChangeNet and Unimondo - had already thought of doing more on good governance / anti-corruption - an area where the civil society in the region clearly needs support and ICT tools.
For more information on APC members in the Balkans, contact Milena Bokova, Director, BlueLink.net, firstname.lastname@example.org