University to support social entrepreneurship project for Ukrainians

The University of Bedfordshire is working with project partners in Ukraine on a series of webinars to encourage social entrepreneurship educators and practitioners to continue to learn and develop new knowledge and skills, despite the ongoing conflict with Russia.

Since 2018, the University has led a British Council Creative Spark project called the ‘Create Creative Entrepreneurs’, which supports and nurtures creative entrepreneurs in Ukraine.

After developing a strong bond with Ukrainian colleague Roman Nesterenko, the Bedfordshire project team are helping to run a series of House of Europe project webinars this summer, allowing entrepreneurs in Ukraine to take part remotely.

The webinars, titled ‘Social Entrepreneurship: New Ideas and Opportunities’, are being delivered by speakers from the University of Bedfordshire’s Business School. They aim to help develop social entrepreneurship knowledge and skills amongst Ukrainian teachers and business managers, and raise awareness of the concept, challenges and opportunities available to them in the creative economy.

As part of this project, the University of Bedfordshire was awarded a consultancy fee of €1000, funded by the European Union, however the University is donating this funding back to the Ukrainian project partners, to help towards vital funds to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine during the Russian invasion.

Despite the difficult times faced by the country, project lead Roman still managed to recruit more than 260 participants to attend this series of webinars.

He said: “We are extremely grateful that our British colleagues from the University of Bedfordshire supported us in our initiative, prepared and are delivering outstanding practice-oriented teaching and learning materials for our participants, featuring a great deal of practical examples and the best practices from the United Kingdom – as well as from the rest of the world.

“We are especially grateful that the University of Bedfordshire not only supported us in carrying out this important project, but also refused to receive their fees for participating in the project for the sake of buying humanitarian food aid for the citizens of Kharkiv City and Kharkiv suburban areas, which at the moment are in the very epicentre of this terrible war.”

Bedfordshire academics involved in this project are Professor Yanqing Duan, Dr Yongmei Bentley and Professor Paul Burns, and they were joined by former colleague Dr Manpreet Dhillon of the University of Westminster. 

Yanqing Duan, Professor of Information Systems with the University’s Business & Management Research Institute (BMRI), said: “Roman has worked incredibly hard in promoting the webinars in Ukraine and we are proud to be able to contribute to the project.

“Most importantly, we are humbled by the motivation and dedication of all the Ukraine participants and by their determination to not let the Russian invasion affect their professional development. By engaging in the training webinars, they are becoming the future leaders in promoting and developing the future of social entrepreneurship in Ukraine.”

Chris Marshall, Executive Dean of the Business School, added: “The project marks an important step in our work to develop knowledge transfer and capacity building for creative entrepreneur educators and business start-ups. Already an innovative international project that has already made meaningful impact on the transformation of the Ukrainian economy in time of great hope, it now moves to an even more critical phase as the country passes into adversity.”

“The University is at the forefront of a number of current research projects that make real impact for change and deliver both responsible, sustainable business outcomes nationally and internationally. We stand as a Business School for the public good and are very proud to be associated with this project.”

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