“Olá!” or “Hola!”, whether I am talking with a person from Portugal or from Spain. I am Tiago, from Portugal and I would like to share with you part of my experience so far with Interreg Volunteering Youth (IVY) programme in Sevilla, Spain, where I came to be part of the working team of the project INTREPIDA, hosted by Fundación Tres Culturas del Mediterraneo (Three Cultures of the Mediterranean Foundation).
There are two countries in the most South-western region of mainland Europe that at first-sight would seem similar and which actually in some aspects resemble each other. However, when it is about business cooperation along with women leadership, there is still a long way to go. An example is the neighbouring regions of Alentejo and Algarve in Portugal and Andalusia in Spain, where despite the big potential they have; there is not yet a high level of cooperation, knowledge and exportation among all of them. Along with that, it is also hard to find women-led business in these regions with the capacity to export their products, which is something that I never thought of, before taking part in this project.
Thus, INTREPIDA comes exactly to tackle these issues and to create as many bridges as possible, in order to have the Guadiana River as the only natural border that separates these regions. With the project INTREPIDA, we are looking for women in charge of their own enterprises, something that can be considered as “fearless” which is the translation in Spanish and Portuguese of the word INTREPIDA (acronym of the project that develops into Internacionalización de las Empresarias de España y Portugal hacia la Inserción, el Desarrollo y las Alianzas, as the title of the project).
These “fearless” women are invited to join this project and to embrace the challenge of internationalising their business and promote their cooperation along the Euro-region: Alentejo-Algarve-Andalucia (AAA). The project is coordinated by “Fundación Tres Culturas del Mediterraneo”, where I am doing my IVY placement, (and whose headquarters it is simply absolutely wonderful, see the photo below! ), and it is an initiative within the scope of the programme INTERREG Spain-Portugal (POCTEP 2014-2020), founded with the ERDF funds from the European Union to promote cooperation between Spain and Portugal, especially the border areas where the level of unemployment is really high in comparison with other regions of both countries.
My arrival here coincided with the beginning of the project and after the initial task of looking for enterprises managed by women that would like to be part of the on-line guide of the project, we are now preparing the first of four planned meetings that our project will have. It will take place along the month of March, during the final part of my IVY stay, and we expect to put together business woman from Portugal and Spain, providing them the opportunity to network, to present their businesses and products. In addition, they will have the chance to receive some training on business internationalisation and cooperation, and to present examples of woman entrepreneurship to the local communities.
Regarding my experience here, it is nice to live in the beautiful and sunny city of Sevilla, and it has been rewarding and stimulating to be able to take part on a project that deals directly with the regional and border communities. It makes me feel good to be able to help the beneficiaries of this project and promote the development of regional and cross-border cooperation, which later increases the European territorial cohesion.