The project idea was initiated by the Municipality of Argos Orestiko, who operates as the LB of the Business Clubs project. The main interest of the LB was the enhancement of entrepreneurship in the surrounding c/b area, in order to reduce the migration of the local population towards larger urban centers. On the contrary, LB aimed to provide the potential local entrepreneurs/ start-uppers with a sustainable perspective, in the c/b area. To achieve this goal, LB wanted to exploit the potential of the municipal library as a vivid organization that is able to offer a lot more than dull knowledge. Hence, the idea of the Business Clubs was initiated. The proximity with the Municipality of Kastoria channeled the first contact for the development of the project partnership. LB approached the Central Public Library of Konitsa, a rather active beneficiary, to join the partnership. The University of Vlora was initially contacted by the LB, as a well-known and highly graded institution in Albania, which has a modern library with numerous resources. Municipality of Permet was the last addition to the partnership as it widens significantly the part of the c/b area that will be directly involved in the project.
The basic common element among the Greek beneficiaries is the fact that the areas they represent or belong to, although they have a background of economies based on agriculture, livestock or fur production, are nowadays focused mainly to tourism, which is an evoking sector. Based on the EU and national policies applied in the areas (Europe 2020, RIS3, etc), the potentials of this area are significantly higher than those currently identified. The area is in great need of professional support in order to boost entrepreneurship and competitiveness, thus sustainable development. The Albanian beneficiaries are confronted with the potentials of the c/b area towards innovative entrepreneurship, in order to bridge the gap towards more competitive, smart and sustainable businesses. The main challenge of the Business Clubs will be the provision of professional support to newly established enterprises in the c/b area, in order to boost sustainable economic development. The Business Clubs will thus operate as business support facilities with a focus on businesses initiated by representatives of groups vulnerable and with high risks of unemployment (young people, women, people with disabilities, etc). The c/b area cannot afford the continuation of “brain drain” and the inability of businesses to survive in this crisis era. The novelty of the project lies in the actual hosting of the Business Clubs; the libraries. The libraries possess high level resources in printed and electronic material that could be used for the benefit of start-uppers. Especially, in small cities – like the ones participating in this project – where no other organization, body or facility for the support of entrepreneurship is available, libraries may operate as a really important knowledge tank. The Business Clubs project allows the libraries to move one step forward; to initiate entrepreneurship. The idea of the Business Clubs is that each beneficiary will establish a business club in the respective library. This means that 5 working places will be designed and equipped for start-uppers to have an office, a place connected to knowledge resources, which will also provide of certain web/ electronic tools to support their effort towards a prosperous entrepreneurial activity. The Business Clubs will set the ground for other beneficiaries/ libraries to take over the Business Clubs model and to become more involved in the actual business activity. The pilot action will allow the beneficiaries to test the ability of the system, define the number of start-ups supported each time, the period of support, etc. The main target groups include the young people, women and people that face the risk of unemployment in general, who have bright and innovative entrepreneurial ideas and are willing of getting started with a business. Priority will be given to businesses that will support the RIS3 conditions and demands in both countries.