The main target group of COOP Local project was SME’s operating in local food and handicraft sector in border areas. During 2,5 years of the project lifetime, project partners organized altogether 43 events, with ca 230 Estonian and Latvian businesses, who participated at the events together.
Events were organized to reach three aims - 1) creation of the sector-based cross-border networks of businesses through joint participation in local fairs, contact events and mutual study visits, 2) joint improvement of skills and knowledge through joint sector-based seminars and study visits to Pskov oblast, Belarus and Finland, 3) creation of sectoral networks of local business leaders.
Events offered a platform for local SME’s for meeting entrepreneurs from the neighboring 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. By participating in the project, farmers and producers gained new knowledge and received new information, and by carrying out joint marketing accessed new markets. All these activities helped them to increase sales volumes.
COOP Local established four sectoral networks and one cross-border network :
- 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)
- 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 catalog contains 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. The catalog helps to increase the visibility of the entrepreneurs.
COOP Local website in Estonian.
COOP Local catalog of entrepreneurs (pdf) - EE, LV
COOP Local brochure in Russian