The main target group of COOP Local project was SME’s operating in local food and handicraft sector in border areas. 43 events, with ca 230 Estonian and Latvian businesses, who participated at the events together, were arranged during 2,5 years of the project implementation. These events offered a platform for local SME’s for meeting entrepreneurs from neighbouring country, for the creation of contacts and finding common interest for business cooperation. The project involved farmers/producers in the field of non-traditional farming, food-production and handicraft from the border areas of Estonia and Latvia (Setomaa region, Räpina, Vastseliina, Ape and Smiltene municipalities). As a result of the project, they gained new knowledge and received new information, got access to new markets with joint marketing. All these activities helped them to increase sales volumes.
Events were organized to reach three main aims:
- The creation of the sector-based cross-border networks of businesses through joint participation in local fairs, contact events and mutual study visits
- Joint improvement of skills and knowledge through joint sector-based seminars and study visits to Pskov oblast, Belarus and Finland.
- The creation of sectoral networks of local business leaders.
Four sector-based networks were established:
- Berry and fruit farmers and producers (ca 80)
- Meat and milk farmers and producers (ca 60)
- Vegetables, herbs and plant farmers and producers (ca 50)
- Handicraft masters/entrepreneurs (ca 60).
In addition, the cross-border network of sectoral network leaders was established with 20 members (5 partners x 4 sectors).
The interest in project activities was very high, as in total 232 SME-s and 521 participants (incl. 258 entrepreneurs) participated in project events. Both numbers are much higher than expected. Also, cross-border cooperation was encouraged between Estonian and Latvian businesses. The survey conducted by project partners at the end of the project showed that in Estonia 50% of the respondents have found contacts or started cooperation with Latvian businesses. In Latvia, 69% of the respondents found new contacts or started cooperation with Estonian businesses.
Partners created a web-based application - COOP Local catalogue, containing information about 66 businesses from the project area, which have the biggest potential for export and cross-border cooperation. It is available in partners’ webpages and new companies can be added if there are new requests. It increases the visibility of the entrepreneurs.
Website of the project in Estonian.
COOP Local catalogue of entrepreneurs (pdf) - EE, LV
COOP Local brochure in Russian