Many young people from the Balkans have decided to try and follow into Mark Zuckerberg’s step and create the next “big thing”. So far they do not have a new Facebook but they have made their home into a hub for technology and innovation.
The region is famous for its low ratio of employment among young people so many decided instead of joining someone else’s business to create one of their own. But great ideas need great funding. And while that used to be a big issue in the Balkans, but it is no longer. Thanks to LAUNCHub, Eleven and JEREMIE program.
The JEREMIE (Joint European Resources for Micro and Medium Enterprises) program is a joint initiative launched by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group to improve access to finance for Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the EU.
It helped boost the startup economy in Bulgaria through two funds LAUNCHub and Eleven. Eleven manages an acceleration and seed fund, its goals is investments in new business of up to €200.000 per investee. One of its technological partners is Google and its strategic partner is the London mentorship-led accelerator Springboard.
Since 2012, LAUNCHub has invested already about €4.5 million in 49 startups from 9 countries in the SEE region, including Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Croatia, Greece and Slovenia.