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Niche Programs Supporting Startups on their Way to Success

Two programs were designed to help more mature startups deal with specific problems in North Macedonia in 2021. The results they're giving are already assisting startups in developing faster.

Programs designed for mature startups are helping teams in North Macedonia expand their businesses globally. Accelerate 2030 and Expand Macedonia are already getting good results.

We supported numerous partner organizations in North Macedonia in the past six years. Even if they had different requests, their goal was the same: to support early-stage startups to develop ideas and jumpstart a business. This all changed in 2021.

A few organizations realized they had a pool of mature startups whose needs were not satisfied. These startups had already built the foundations of their businesses, and wanted to expand into other markets.

In 2021, Swiss EP supported two different programs, Accelerate 2030 and Expand Macedonia, which aimed to enable local startups to operate in other markets.

Accelerate 2030

Accelerate 2030 is a global program working to connect entrepreneurship and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Started by Impact Hub Geneva and UNDP, the program identifies impact entrepreneurs from emerging economies ready to scale their businesses and provides them with tailored support on national and international levels.

In North Macedonia, the Seavus Accelerator and Business Impact Lab teamed up to implement the Accelerate 2030 program. With support from the local UNDP office and Swiss EP, the two partners implemented an excellent program.

Running from July to October 2021, the program enabled seven local teams to learn more about scaling up their businesses. One of the startups from the cohort, AirCare, made it to the final event, Building Bridges Week, which took place in Geneva at the end of 2021. AirCare was one of 15 startups at this event, selected among 1400 startups from more than 20 countries..

Seavus Accelerator and Business Impact Lab managed to bring the world's largest scaling program connecting entrepreneurship and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - Accelerate2030 in Macedonia. After running this program, we can see the growth of creating solutions for the SDGs from startups, which speaks about increased awareness in starting a business with a positive impact on society.

Angela Mitrinovska, Coordinator at Seavus Accelerator.

Expand Macedonia

Expand Macedonia is another program that supports local startups on their way to global success. Startup Macedonia teamed up with venture studios 36Chambers and Basicmath to offer expert knowledge and know-how to local teams wishing to expand to German and Japanese markets.

The six-month long program started in summer 2021, offering comprehensive knowledge and practical advisory on the market expansion. Local teams started the three-stage program with Education, moved on to the Refining and Producing stage, and completed the program with Connecting.

Expand Macedonia was built to help Macedonian IT companies find validation for their products. I think this is an excellent way for us to pay back to the community we came from—by organizing a free-of-charge program for startups. In the worst-case scenario, startups will get constructive feedback on why the current solution is not a fit for Germany or Japan with recommendations of what needs to be changed. Such validation will not come from mentors or from the local team who will be supporting startups. Instead, it will come from the customers and sales partners as direct feedback from the market.

Jane Uzunivski, 36 Chambers co-founder and CEO

One of the startups participating in the program was Matryoshka. Sofija Daceva and her team are preparing to introduce their product WICE, an ice cream made of wine, to the international market.

I am incredibly grateful for having the chance to work with Jane Uzunovski, Mike Morlock, and Mario Steinbuch from 36 Chambers Studio. Mike had helped me a lot with designing my marketing strategy – taking into consideration that when the program started, we lacked knowledge in the marketing area. He helped me build the website, design marketing campaigns, and plan the strategy for social media marketing. On the other hand, Jane and Mario helped me with the development of a strategy for expanding to the German market. I also had the chance to visit them in Berlin and got connected to potential distributors in the German market. After the program, we're still working together, and I hope that we will expand WICE in Germany in the future.

Sofija Daceva, founder and CEO of Matryoshka

It is still too early to analyze the long-term impact that these two programs will have on the Macedonian entrepreneurial ecosystem but we can already see some immediate positive effects:AirCare is among the 15 best impact startups in developing countries, and Matryoshka is ready to conquer the German market. With more startups entering the scaling space, the need for similar programs is evident. Luckily, organizations like Seavus Accelerator, Business Impact Lab, and Startup Macedonia will continue to work in this space, supporting the next generation of Macedonian startup founders on their way to success.