Small businesses are often said to be the backbone of any economy. Just like everything else, it is also important to create awareness about positive business practices in a society. Among the many projects carried out by FLEX Alumni in 2018, there were a few that focused on imparting business skills among people in the community. Here we have a list of initiatives by FLEX Alumni in the past year that are helping the business community thrive.

Career Fair – Romania

In January 2018, Ioana Plesea ’17 organized a career fair at the Nicolae Titulescu National High School. A total of seven presenters were selected by Ioana after conducting a survey to determine the fields that the students were most interested in. The presenters included a freelance interpreter, an IT professional, a business developer, a journalist, and an editor. Around 150 students attended the fair and had a chance to listen to the presenters, gaining valuable insight about their respective fields.

Attention Project – Kazakhstan

Marzhan Balabek ’17 of Kazakhstan collaborated with the organization Enactus of Almaty Management University (AlmaU) to organize a project with the goal of equipping high school students with project management and networking skills. A total of 20 high school students from various rural areas near Almaty participated in the event. Through a series of 12 workshops, lectures, and practicums led by two trainers and six professors from the university, participants gained the tools necessary to develop their own businesses or community projects. The three students whose project was deemed the most viable were awarded with a grant for the implementation of their project, while another three students were awarded scholarships to attend AlmaU.

Education Network Conference – Moldova

In March 2018, six FLEX alumni organized the third edition of the biennial Education Network Conference. A total of 120 high school students from more than 15 regions were gathered for the program, with the focus on improving their skills and helping them select appropriate careers. Interactive sessions were led by well-known experts and public figures including founders of businesses and organizations, entrepreneurs, alumni of various exchange programs, a famous journalist, and a former Minister of Education. A number of topics such as leadership, gender equality, personal development, businesses skills, and international educational opportunities were covered. According to project organizers, hearing the stories of these individuals’ failures and successes inspired the participants to be courageous.

Business Communication Course – Russia

During August 2018, two business communication courses were carried out, one in St. Petersburg and one in Moscow. A total of 26 alumni participated in this course which had been designed and led by experienced copywriter, business trainer, and fiction author Danil Vyazovov ’01. Danil utilized a unique storytelling approach to help alumni learn easily applicable skills in networking, presentation, and negotiation.

Mama Pro Trainings – Kazakhstan

Back in 2017, FLEX alumna Aizhan Alzhanova ’04 and two collaborators together founded Mama Pro, a center that provides vulnerable women with opportunities to learn new skills and aims to inspire them to start businesses. In April 2018, Aizhan and her team organized two trainings for 25 women on the topics of freelance business opportunities and utilizing Instagram for business and networking. The team also organized a teambuilding event for participants during this month, teaching them the necessary skills for networking and teamwork.

Business Program – Ukraine

Throughout April 2018, Sofiya Yakovleva ’14 worked with six members of the American Club, a branch of the local NGO Young Diplomacy in Ukraine, to organize a business program for the local youth. The goal of the project was to raise the level of student interest in the fields of economics and business. A total of 66 participants participated in the program and got a chance to learn about social media marketing, finance, and project management through interactive sessions led by experienced professionals. Among these were an associate professor of the Department of International Economic Analysis and Finance at Lviv University and the co-founder of the NGO FRI PLUS, a local organization promoting youth engagement in protecting human rights and countering corruption.