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Section II: Country case studies

Section II: Country case studies

The successful development of a rural community based on entrepreneurship: Moy valley resources' role in assisting the development of entrepreneurship in a rural community related through a case study of the Easkey community1

1Case study prepared for this publication developing commercial rural enterprises in order to combat dependency on agencies and create sustainability.

Monica O'Malley

Longford Community Resources Ltd., 6 Church Street, Longford, Ireland


The purpose of this case study is to highlight the importance of encouraging community initiatives and entrepreneurship in the development and growth of local economies.

This will only be achieved by promoting and nurturing an entrepreneurial environment within local communities which will adapt easily to change. This necessitates the incorporation of people and ideas into the development process.

Moy Valley Resources, an integrated rural development company in Ballina, Co. Mayo, is an example of a local initiative which encourages and promotes local community development through such activities as entrepreneurship.

Moy Valley Resources also administers the EU 'Liasion Entre Actions Development de l'Economic Rurale' (KU LEADER programme) in northwest Ireland that facilitates and supports all development (enterprise, tourism, community, environmental, etc.) in the eight local communities of its catchment area. Easkey, a community enterprise project it facilitated and the spin off enterprises resulting from it, will be examined as one of Moy Valley Resources' successful projects. Also noted is the necessity for

Moy valley resources company profile

Moy Valley Resources, the North Mayo/West Sligo Integrated Resource Development Company Ltd (IRD) is a non-profit seeking company and supported by eight local communities with a population base slightly in excess of 30 000. The committee which spearheaded the formation of Moy Valley Resources opted for a local partnership structure. The Board of Management includes thirty directors from local communities and the public sector, with nominated directors contributing special skills and expertise. The Board of Moy Valley Resources operates on a voluntary basis, directs the affairs of the company, lays down policies and makes all major decisions. Between board meetings, a Finance Committee, answerable to the board, monitors the business of the company. An Executive Committee meets weekly to expedite effective management and financial control.

The company provides a united structure, bonding the eight communities (six in County Mayo, two in County Sligo) with a commercial brief for the integrated co-ordination of development activities with public bodies, state agencies and private businesses. Local commitment to the company and its development initiatives has been demonstrated by financial backing and voluntary support for its activities. The company formulated an action plan aimed at generating economic growth in agriculture, tourism and small-to-medium enterprises. The plan is an integrated plan for working with state agencies and companies including the Vocational Education Committee, Training and Employment Authority (FAS), County Council, Urban District Council, County Enterprise Boards, Teagasc, Bord Failte, Ireland West, Departments of Social Welfare, Agriculture and Finance, North West Fisheries Board and the KU.

Moy Valley Resources has been an extremely effective catalyst in generating revenue in the Moy Valley catchment area. The investment to date is £4.2 million, with local communities contributing £265 000 and an additional £33 000 generated in tax rebates. The £265 000 in local contributions has facilitated more than £2.4 million in inward investment, or more than £9 for every £1 subscribed. This in turn has directly induced at least £31.5 million in local private investment as matching funds. Moy Valley Resources has sponsored community employment schemes through FAS amounting to £0.6 million. As a constituent partner in the Western Rural Development Company, which administered the EU LEADER Programme in the North West Mayo, West Sligo Region, Moy Valley Resources has assisted in attracting £1.38 million to the Moy Valley catchment area.

Aims and objectives

Impediments, to economic and social in the Moy Valley Region

There are several problems which impede the economic and social development of the Moy Valley Region:

Sectors of development

The Moy Valley Resources' role in rural development is both being an entrepreneur in itself and a facilitator of entrepreneurship. The main sectors of development include:

In relation to the development of the Food Industry within the West of Ireland, Moy Valley Resources identified a need for development/test facilities and for high standard serviced food space. The staggering infrastructural costs effectively restricted the development of small food enterprises within the Region. It established a subsidiary company called Food Innovation Ltd. In conjunction with the local dairy co-operative, North Connaught farmers provided the facilities which cost a total £10 000. In addition, the test facilities include the provision of an on-site food technologist. Such facilities were not available outside Dublin and will be used by both potential and existing food businesses which wish to develop, test and refine new products. The Moy Valley area is rich in natural resources marine and agriculture) which could contribute to a vibrant value added food industry in the area.

The tourism industry in Moy Valley was grossly under-developed. The area has scenic, rugged coastline, high cliffs, fine beaches, plentiful fishing rivers and lakes, mountains, championship golf courses and coastal villages. Additionally, the area has a rich cultural heritage. Moy Valley Resources assisted the local communities in establishing the brand name 'Moy Valley', which is marketed nationally and internationally. It is based on the catchment of the Moy river which flows through all the communities. Moy Valley Resources provide a tourism marketing officer, package holidays and tourist information offices and officers in each community. They market the area through brochures, representation at trade fairs and through contact with tour operators. On behalf of the local tourist accommodation providers, they established the Moy Valley Country Holidays Co-operative, a member of the Irish Country Holidays Co-operative which is marketed in Europe.

In the small enterprise sector, Moy Valley Resources has established an enterprise centre which provides enterprise space and business advice and services to existing and potential entrepreneurs. The provision of eight small enterprise units has facilitated the generation of seventeen full-time jobs. Moy Valley Resources assists with the preparation of business and marketing plans, stimulates enterprise initiatives and assists local communities and individuals in finding funding for their projects. They work with local authorities, state agencies and financial institutions on behalf of entrepreneurs.

In the agricultural sector, Moy Valley Resources assisted in the revitalisation of the Seed Potato Industry in the Region. A local entrepreneur recognised the potential of growing mini tubers in the area which had a tradition of growing seed potatoes. The climate was suitable and the area had a low aphid rate. Production has been successfully reintroduced, using modern technology and involving producers in conjunction with Teagasc, Micro-Crop Ltd and Bord Glas.

Due to the success of this project, Moy Valley Resources is now assisting the entrepreneur in the expansion of his business by locating additional seed potato growers. This project will create employment for local farmers. A development package is presently being formulated at an estimated cost of £230 000.

Case study: Easkey community, Co. Sligo

Easkey is a small, attractive coastal area located in County Sligo, in northwest Ireland. It faced the typical problems of rural decline resulting from such problems as: high dependence on small-scale, low income farming; little emphasis on tourism activities; lack of alternative employment; underemployment leading to persistent out-migration; and poor infrastructure. It is prominently positioned on the banks of the tranquil Easkey River? a prolific salmon fishing area. In the 1800s, the village was a prosperous merchant centre with a strong agriculture base, evidenced by the size and type of houses found in or close by the village. Its decline was caused by the ravages of economic depression with ensuing social depression. The village had also been an important economic centre but lost a considerable amount of its economic status due to, among other things, the development of the neighbouring town of Enniscrone as a tourist resort.

In 1986, the Easkey Community Council was established in an attempt to address what the members saw as a decline in the rural community. Local interest grew dramatically from 1990-92 and by 1993, it found itself in a position to begin its rejuvenation.

Realising the potential value of the natural and human resources within the area and desiring a coherent village development plan, the Council requested assistance in the preparation of a Community Development Plan in conjunction with an Architectural and Enhancement Plan.

A task force was established comprised of Easkey Community Council, Moy Valley Resources and Sligo County Council and Enterprise Board. In July 1993, three architectural students from University College Dublin (under the supervision of the renowned town planner) lived in the village for ten weeks to prepare the plan. They evaluated the architectural strengths and weaknesses of the area and considered the various possibilities upon which local development projects could be organized and enhanced. Simultaneously Moy Valley Resources, in conjunction with Easkey Community Council, prepared a Community Development Plan, focusing on the community's natural resources, strengths and weaknesses and proposed future development with strong emphasis on tourism as a potential revenue generator.

The possibility of tourism as a resource was recognised by the Euradvice Consultants (1994): "Many of the major tourist attractions and most of the scenic touring routes are located in remote areas of great natural beauty with little prospects for industrial or farming employment but which can enjoy the benefits of an expanded tourism industry .... Tourism developments should be seen as part of a holistic process of community development, involving as wide as possible participation of community members. Planning for tourism should be based on indigenous local resources, be based on producing quality products, pay full regard to environmental and cultural sustainability and should in particular avoid particular trivialisation of cultural values. Tourism plans should pay particular attention to marketing and promotion programmes and should be developed between a number of local groups at county or regional levels."

Overview of the Easkey Area.

Easkey District consists of seventeen towns with 351 homes and a population of 1120. It has suffered a constant decrease in population since the mid 1940s. Extracts from local population reports reveal that Easkey village had a population of 224 in 1966, which fell by 26.3% to 165 people in 1991. There are approximately eighty-nine people registered as unemployed, which represents 22% of the workforce, 4% above the national average. Many residents were forced to leave the village in order to find employment elsewhere. Many of the smaller farmers have taken part-time employment or participate in public work schemes. of the Easkey Village and its

surrounding area

Positive aspects of the Easkey Village and its surrounding area

Easkey has a wealth of positive aspects which must be capitalised on if the village is to be rejuvenated, including the Easkey River? a beautiful stone bridge, a pleasant curving street, several attractive traditional store fronts, attractive old buildings, a ruined castle, the sea, the rugged coastline and conditions conducive to surfing.

Potential natural resources that could be developed as tourism products l

Easkey Village and its surrounding area are richly endowed in natural resources that are under-developed, including:

· Excellent surfing conditions.

· Angling.

· Hill walking and cycling.

· Alternative tourism products e.g. open farms. . Equestrian. . Gaming weekends.

· Natural tidal swimming pool and fossil shore.

· Various aqua sports e.g. canoeing, kayaking and bodyboarding.

· Rural study tours e.g. dome shaped and blanker peat bogs.

· Ox Mountain range.

Strengths of Easkey

Easkey has numerous strengths, the community and the council possess a strong community spirit dedicated to the development of the locality on behalf of its people. The scenery in the area is beautiful with its rugged coastline, wild sea and majestic Ox Mountains and is altogether a pollution free, unspoilt environment which could be optimised. The area is richly endowed with natural resources particularly suited to participation in active pursuits. The village possesses a wealth of attractions that are of a heritage and cultural interest, historical castles, an abbey and a graveyard. The village has a reasonably good transport system serviced daily by public buses at regular intervals. In the past four years the community has made a concerted effort to improve the standards in the village's accommodation and now possesses quality self catering and a large fully serviced caravan park approved by the Irish Tourist Board. Additionally, the village contains a large number of vacant, fine stone buildings which provide a huge potential for the development of accommodation or other commercial interests. Much of the traditional stone work found in the village e.g. Easkey Bridge, village boundary walls and some of the buildings are still intact and lends an aura of history to the area.

Weaknesses of Easkey

Easkey has obvious weaknesses which include absence of a central information point to provide information on activities, amenities and facilities in the area. Tourists to the area commented on this. The general appearance of the landscape and streetscape, with overgrown hedges, poor landscaping and litter being dumped indiscriminately, all contribute to a neglected, unkept look. This is largely due to parts of the village being used as a makeshift camping ground by visitors participating in surfing activities. There was no direct access to the sea from the centre of the village, instead to reach it required accessing it from outside the village. This presented difficulties for those who took part in surfing activities or wished to access the caravan park, who chose instead to camp beside Roslee Castle which resulted in a loss of revenue for public facilities within the village. The population in the village has fallen by 13% since 1986, and according to age classification the largest drop of 30% has been in the fifteen to twenty-five year age group.

The roads in and around the Easkey village are in a very poor condition, many are in need of widening and re-surfacing. One particular road that extends along the coastline has suffered severely from the effects of erosion and is impassable in some parts. Unfortunately, the accommodation base and type in the area is insufficient and there are no guest houses approved by the Irish Tourist Board. At present, many visitors choose to stay elsewhere because the area is inadequate in terms of serving the existing tourism demands. The majority of the tourists are on a limited budget and require hostel accommodation. Easkey village contains many vacant buildings which are derelict and in need of extensive infrastructural repairs, particularly one known as Murray's House, which is an eyesore on the streetscape. It is prominently located in the centre of the village and is a focal point of the village.

Opportunities for development

From market research undertaken in the preparation of the plan, which included consultations with members of the community and interviews with tourists to the village, the following opportunities came to light; they centre around six central headings:

A central information point was deemed a necessity in order to provide local, regional and national information to tourists on all facilities, products and services. It came to light that Easkey was recognised among the surfing fraternity as possessing the best surfing conditions along the coast of Ireland and one of the best in Europe. Easkey was receiving a steady flow of Irish and international surfers without any marketing being undertaken or the additional facilities being put in place. However, Sligo County Council had, two years beforehand, provided a building containing shower and toilet facilities along the coast. The surfing tourists were well respected in the area as they appreciated the surf, the village and its community and they tended to stay for at least a period of one month. Therefore, both Moy Valley Resources and Easkey Community Council agreed to utilise the active holiday pursuit of surfing as the central resource to rejuvenate the village. The task force agreed that a facility would be required in order to market surfing and to provide tourist information with great emphasis on surfing, in addition to the provision of training in surfing.

Simultaneously, the architectural students had studied the streetscape in the village and had identified the particularly prominent but derelict two storey building 'Murray's House' in the centre of the village which was visible from each of the three roads that entered into the village. One of the functions of the Architectural Plan was to identify a building on which development could be based; the students had identified Murray's House as a location with excellent potential which desecrated the scenic streetscape of the village. They believed it should be considered as a starting point to act as a catalyst to revitalise the village's appearance, and it was agreed to locate the information point in Murray's House. It would also contain a restaurant facility, a retail outlet, an enterprise space, altogether providing the local community with a building with multi functional uses. Other infrastructural developments highlighted include development of riverside walks down to the sea, illumination of the fine stone bridge, landscaping throughout the village, improvements to the stone walls and continuing the streetline by providing a low stone wall and provision of a streetscape with associated colour schemes to develop a uniform, attractive image of Easkey village.

The need for a hostel to cover the needs of the low budget surfers was evident. When the community and Moy Valley Resources highlighted this need, a local resident decided to establish a fully serviced hostel on the main street in a derelict building. The building was purchased, is being renovated and will contribute greatly to the current accommodation base.

The Development Plan was completed and submitted to the Interreg Fund for evaluation in February 1994. It projected costs of £231000, of which £100000 was to build the house. The old one was structurally unsound and would have to be completely rebuilt.

The plan secured grant assistance of £165 000 through Bord Failte, the Irish Tourist Board and the Interreg Programme. The local authority and the local community contributed the remainder through supervision, voluntary labour and materials. Moy Valley Resources secured a Community Enterprise worker from FAS to work with the local community on the project and to coordinate the community, the local authority, the contractor and all the other organizations involved. As surfing training and information was the focus of the facility, the group contacted the Irish Surfing Association (ISA) to discuss the requirement of such a facility. It was decided that the facility should offer surfing equipment and a coffee shop that could provide refreshments for both surfers and locals. The ISA, which had in the past played host to international surfing events, agreed to locate its international marketing arm for Ireland in Easkey. The ISA, assisted by Moy Valley Resources, applied for and received a Community Employment Scheme to train people in surfing and to provide surfing information.

Additional small rural enterprises which emerged

The Community Council established a retail outlet to sell surfing products such as board waxes and wet suits in addition to a large range of craft products produced by members of the surrounding local community. This has had a tremendous impact locally, providing an outlet for local, hand crafted souvenirs, T-shirts, paintings, etc. The complete project, including the building, local enhancements, local activity packages, devising a calendar of events, and liaising with possible tenants, was facilitated by the Community Enterprise worker.

Other local rural enterprises which were facilitated by the Community Enterprise worker included a seaweed processing and distribution facility, a mussel collection, screening and distribution service, a home bakery, a Tshirt printing service, a lamination service, a local painter, a local potter, a local woodturner, a local handicraft enterprise, numerous bed and breakfasts and self catering. The Community Council proposed to establish a Mobile Home site to accommodate twelve Mobile Homes in the village.

A range of activity holiday packages was prepared in conjunction with the Enterprise worker and the tourism marketing officer from Moy Valley Resources.

Currently the Community Enterprise worker and the Irish Surfing Association are planning to apply to bring a major European competition to the village. A problem that impeded this plan has been the lack of suitable accommodation which is now being remedied by the establishment of the proposed hostel and on-going development of other accommodation.

Factors contributing to the project's success

Sustainable rural enterprises

In 1982, Shannon Free Airport Development Company (SFADCo) introduced the Community Co-operative Support Programme (CCSP) to assist enterprise development within the community. However, it responds to community initiatives rather than stimulating new initiatives and uses a corporate style approach with expectations that do not follow the traditional model of community development.

Many of the jobs created under this scheme are marginal in terms of wages and working conditions. Wages tend to be subsidised by state agencies as the businesses evolve through the early stages. It remains to be seen if employment conditions and wages will compare with those of the public and private sectors.

Yet SFADCo has promoted the use of flawless business practices. This approach eliminates on-going dependency on assistance and will eventually ensure that the success of community enterprises will be measured by market standards and norms. The CEP's provision of a support network has instilled a business mentality into the community co-operatives.

Failure amongst the enterprises has thus so far been low due to CEP's management grants, management training and the fact that it insists on adherence to proper business planning by the small enterprises. The number of enterprises which survive as independent businesses has been the test for success of the CEP; yet since most enterprises are in their embryonic/early growth stages it is too early to know.


As national and international economic environments are subject to change, a re-assessment of strategies is paramount to the creation of employment and social development. The focus is now on 'Bottom-Up' approaches to community development. There must be co-operation between those involved in local community development initiatives and those who design community development support schemes. It is also imperative to the process that there is mutual respect of the role played by both parties, with people and regions playing a larger role.

Local capacity is needed in order to overcome these existing differences and thereby enable the community enterprise to succeed. Yet most groups seeking to provide jobs or additional income for their community tend to focus on practical organizational and commercial issues. Therefore, the assistance to community groups with their daily problems for achieving short run results which simultaneously promote and encourage the more basic elements of local development, is necessary. Also new capacity is paramount in allowing local communities to be more involved in their development. Adult education can make this possible.


Euradvice Consultants. (1994). 'A Crusade of Survival', Report, Developing the West, Eglinton House, Dublin.

A focus on youth rural development future possibilities and options1

1Paper presented at the Seventh Session of the FAO/ECA Working Party an Women and the Agricultural Family in Rural Development, Athens, Greece, 18-21 October 1994.

O. Kjelsen

Ministry of Agriculture, Oslo, Norway

The present situation

The economic recession in Norway has prompted forceful demands from many quarters for the restructuring of its economic base. There is a rising level of unemployment, especially among the youth. The present unemployment rate of 5-6% is the highest this country has ever had. Great parts of our rural areas have been experiencing a considerable loss of jobs. Employment opportunities in agriculture, fishery as well as industry have been decreasing. Some remote areas of our country are now developing an unfavourable population structure. The percentage of young people and women is decreasing while the percentage of old people is increasing. The population of these areas is declining and at the same time is losing its demographic potential because there is a reduction in the number of births.

During the 1990s the decline in the number of young people aged between sixteen to twenty-four has become a new and conspicuous trend. This tendency is true for all counties of Northern Norway, also for Trøndelag, as well as the central counties of Southern Norway, Hedmark and Oppland (Report, 1994). In some parts of these areas there is a growing tendency for daughters and sons of farmers to seek their fortune in other professions, mostly in urbanised areas.

What caused this process of depletion of human resources in some rural areas?

In Norway all young people have a right to a full secondary education. The number of upper secondary school students has increased by 5 8% during the last fifteen years. The average enrolment of all youngsters between sixteen and nineteen years of age is now more than 90% in towns or in the peripheral outskirts of the country. However, when living in a remote area, young people mostly have to go to urban centres to study. Once they have specialised in their chosen field of profession, few find jobs in rural areas for which they are qualified because job options are rather poor. This is especially so if both partners in a maniage want to have a career. In addition, quite often the private and public services offered by small rural communities cannot compete with those existing in urban areas.

Research findings show that young people are generally negative about starting their own enterprises (Report, 1994). The majority of future plans involves being employed in an already existing job.

Norway's population density is extremely low; the national average is thirteen persons per km². The EU average by comparison is 146 persons per km². The low population density makes the peripheral regions very vulnerable. In many communities, a further decline in population would threaten their future as viable societies which provide the necessary private and public services like a post office, a local primary school and a local grocery shop. The decline is difficult to reverse and it can become a vicious circle.

Norwegian rural development policy

Norwegian rural areas are heavily dependent on primary sectors, especially agriculture, for economic activities and employment. Agriculture accounts for more than half of all employment in a quarter of Norway's municipalities. Therefore, it is very important to the Norwegian Government to secure a high level of activity in agriculture, processing industry and associated activities for the future.

To maintain a 'living' countryside in all parts of Norway, new and innovative measures have to be taken (in Proposition no 8 to the Storting, 1992 -1993, the Government has defined the reform policy for agriculture).

The new agricultural policy in Norway promotes employment opportunities by diversifying economic activities in rural areas. The promotion of marketing activities within a broad range of fields has started, value-added and processed agricultural, sea and forest products, crafts, rural tourism and local souvenirs, to mention a few. These new goods and services are based on resources found in rural areas which offer competitive advantages specific to the Norwegian resource base.

Current measures

Allocations of funds through the Agricultural Agreement to rural development purposes have grown year by year. Funds have been established which are important instruments geared for structural change within traditional agriculture as well as for diversification purposes. Establishment grants and support for entrepreneurial training are offered to adults and here women are given priority. Young people who are to take over a farm receive financial support. By law, the oldest child has the first right of inheritance to a family farm, irrespective of sex. Campaigns are run to encourage young girls to make use of this right. Support is also given to develop favourable surroundings for innovative activities.

Financial measures are considered crucial instruments to achieve success in the restructuring process ahead, but just giving people money will not achieve goals. Central authorities aim to encourage local people to think in new ways, to find new ways of exploiting local resources, be marketoriented and create new jobs. It is recognised that to achieve these ambitious goals, it is necessary to develop local human resources, that is, it is necessary to provide local people with the required know-how and competence. Such competence should include an open mind for creative thinking, a willingness to face changing conditions and an ability to act.

A focus on schools

In the search for the best strategy, focus was put on children and young people in schools. This means that the Ministry of Agriculture cannot any longer exclusively deal with agricultural issues. Other areas of importance to rural development must be influenced. In particular, it is necessary to recruit the educational sector, amongst others, as a partner in the effort to achieve a successful restructuring of present rural economic structures.

In many ways, Norway's present political and administrative arrangements have failed to meet the challenges facing the country. Schools, in particular, have concentrated on educational issues to the exclusion of local economic development, instead of tackling the issues with such development in mind. They have been producing employees, that are recipients of jobs, by encouraging young people to expect jobs to be in place for them when they have completed their education.

To create a cycle of positive development, our main strategy is to involve all the important relevant sectors in mutual co-operation. We strongly believe in the concept of partnership. By means of joint ventures between schools and businesses, young people should be trained to assess the value of local resources and develop these into the right products and services.

Schools should produce creators of jobs. This will lead to a new circle of positive development which will help stop the depopulation trend and promote new ways for the exploitation of resources.

It is in this spirit that the Norwegian Government strongly supports and encourages innovative educational schemes like 'Dynamic Local Schools'. Five ministries, headed by the Ministry of Agriculture, have sponsored and promoted the scheme for three and a half years. The scheme involves schools directly as partners in the process of furthering economic development.

Dynamic local schools

The model for the - scheme Dynamic Local Schools consists of three components:

A 'Pupil Enterprise' may, in principle, produce any kind of goods and services. The pupils' and teachers' imagination and creativity, combined with competence, local resources, conditions of production and potentialities in the market, determine what can be made.

Participating m a Pupil Enterprise means going through a production process:

The pupils themselves are responsible for establishing and running the enterprise, an approach that promotes accountability in the pupils. The role of teachers and local businessmen is to give advice and to report.

In a Pupil Enterprise equal rights for both boys and girls are ensured. A young female student who had participated in a Pupil Enterprise, said: "Equal rights are often only a subject for discussion at school, not concretised through action. To gain equal rights, it is important that women are given the opportunity to acquire attitudes, competence and increase self-confidence. In a Pupil Enterprise equal rights are practiced. When girls are made General Managers of a Pupil Enterprise, or otherwise have leading roles, it becomes visible that 'women are capable'. Girls are skillful in doing the work found in Pupil Enterprises and such concrete action is amongst the best for gaining equal rights for women."

Participating in a Pupil Enterprise is an important learning experience for the pupils, who gain experience, self-esteem and the ability to translate knowledge into action. Something also happens to their local surroundings. Teachers, the local business community, pupils as well as parents become involved in a process furthering entrepreneurship.

There are Pupil Enterprises both at the primary and secondary levels. The concept of the Pupil Enterprise must be adapted to suit the age of the pupils, their curriculum and the local economic environment. Stated in another way, the Pupil Enterprise must be integrated into ordinary school subjects and activities as well as in the local pattern of commerce and business. Participation in running a business is not as important as exposure to this kind of total learning situation.

The tertiary course of study in 'the world of work and entrepreneurship' is made up of three main parts:

The tertiary level course also allows a close adaptation to local requirements and resources. The students are not given vocational training for any particular profession. They are, however, given the opportunity to practice general entrepreneurship.

Course participants include teachers, local entrepreneurs, politicians, and public administrators, a combination that seems to be successful in creating unique conditions for the development of new enterprises in the local communities concerned. By encouraging participants to face up to challenges and to make the most of opportunities, these tertiary level courses aim to foster a spirit of optimism and a belief that it is possible to shape the future of one's community.

Reports indicate that the theoretical approach of the project 'Dynamic Local Schools' as well as its underlying ideas have been very well received by local communities, as well as by key authorities at local, regional and county level all over Norway. The scheme has been in considerable demand in rural as well as urban communities. Local sub-projects, pupil enterprises and tertiary level courses, are being established all over the country, including the capital, Oslo. By now there are several Pupil Enterprises in every Norwegian county.

In this process, several local project groups may be linked in networks, exchanging information and experience and learning valuable lessons from each other. This aspect of the project is very important since it allows for various approaches to be compared with each other.

An example

In the region of Salten, Northern Norway, ten municipalities have joined forces supporting a local project for the implementation of the ideas of 'Dynamic Local Schools'. At twenty-four schools, primary as well as secondary level, one or more pupils' enterprises have been established. A tertiary level course 'in the world of work and entrepreneurship' has been completed and another is being run. Networks have been created between the ten communities, the twenty-four schools and the pupils' enterprises.

A former teacher has been employed to lead and run the project. In addition, local working, groups have been established in each municipality. The measures taken have received financial support from regional support schemes, the Employment Service and the Rural Development Support Scheme.

In the following, 1 would like to refer to a speech given by the pupil participants of the first Pupil Enterprise of the Region, that is at Rokland Skole, in the municipality called Saltdal: "Our enterprise, Lefseriet, was started up this Autumn. We were so excited. We were to co-operate in new ways and even earn some money. We had many ideas about what to produce, but finally we agreed to make the famous 'mosbromlefse'.

This 'lefse' is a thin cake comparable to pancakes, rolled with butter and soft Norwegian brown cheese inside it. The cake has been made in the Region for generations, but today mainly old people know how to make it. The Pupil Enterprise is thus building on the resource base and the competitive advantages of their local region."

I go on referring to the pupils' speech "As soon as we had started our production, we had orders by the hundred. We bake every Thursday after school hours at the school's kitchen, which we rent. Sometimes the market demand is so big that we have to spend another day that week baking Gradually we developed three lefse-varieties. You can buy the lefse dry, warm or frozen.

In our enterprise each pupil has a job and responsibilities of her/his own. There is a general manager, a production manager and an economist. There is one person in charge of storage and deliveries, another in charge of packing and another of promotion. But even if we are all part-time bosses, we also take part in the production process. In addition, we are all responsible for the welfare of all employees.

We meet once a week to make decisions and plan ahead. Our teacher is present to give advice, but we, the pupils, make our own decisions. It is our enterprise and our product. If one of us shirks her/his duties, we all suffer. We have also learnt that all the different jobs are equally important to make the enterprise function.

In our time, unemployment unfortunately is relatively high. There might not be a job for each of us when we have finished our education. Therefore, what we learn by establishing and running a Pupil Enterprise seems to be very useful."


Partnership schemes between schools and the agricultural sector alone cannot solve all problems that we are facing in the effort to further rural development, but adding this aspect to other central strategies like partnerships and joint ventures for all sectors, is important to rural development, as it gives us the feeling of being on the right track.

Research findings as well as the results already achieved show that we have chosen the right strategies. We are enhancing rural communities' inherent potential and thereby securing their long-term survival. Our younger generations are developing a market-oriented entrepreneurial spirit. We are facing current challenges with optimism and focusing on future possibilities and options.


Report (1994). The Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research.

Partnership and networking in the development of rural areas1

1Key paper presented at the Sixth Session of the FAO/ECA Working Party on Women and the Agricultural Family in Rural Development, Innsbruck Austria, 13-16 October 1992.

P.J. Borich

Minnesota Extension Service, Minnesota, U.S.A.

As an introduction to my paper, I would like to state that some of the issues which I propose to discuss are in the process of being discovered in Minnesota.

Overview: rural communities in Minnesota, current situation

I am impressed by how many similarities there are between rural communities in Europe and in my home state of Minnesota. Although universities have been studying and working with rural communities for over 100 years, we have found that in the last ten years, Minnesota communities are in a great state of change, as are communities in Europe and we are looking for ways to address these problems as you are, through many forms of multicommunity networking and collaboration, including increased leadership of women and families. Let me describe the situation in the U.S.A., especially in Minnesota.

First, we are in a great state of change, largely because the population in many rural areas in the U.S.A. is declining rapidly. Due to the lack of people and resources, we have been forced into looking beyond the traditional male and agricultural segment of the population to leadership from women and families to help our rural communities survive these many changes. A brief explanation of what led to this situation may be helpful.

In a talk I gave in Chicago in November 1991 on multicommunity (Borich, 1991), I noted that in the early 1900s, the rural communities were characterised by institutions which were spatially scattered. The school, agricultural organizations, the bank, the creamery and the church one attended might all have been in separate locations.

By the middle of the century, the success of American agriculture, advances in transportation and communications technology and changing markets had combined to support the classic farm service centres which characterised the rural community. These communities boasted a full set of social and economic institutions: families, government, markets, schools and churches. This high level of social and economic differentiation provided social scientists with what appeared to be an evolutionary end point for community development and quickly came to define the dominant paradigm for community studies and public policy.

Since that time, the same forces that helped to create the traditional rural community have acted to eliminate much of its function. Declining farm numbers and a corresponding loss of rural population have been accompanied by diminished rural markets, consolidation of schools and churches and reduced government services. For the model of a central service community, empty store fronts, boarded-up schools and churches and overburdened governments represent a crisis. Logically, if the central service community is an evolutionary end point, policies must be designed to weed out those places which appear unable to sustain that level of activity (declare them nonviable), and to support through active development programmes those that can.

Part of this problem, as I argued in my paper, is that the public policymakers and our universities have not kept pace with these changes. For example, ten years ago, university courses in community development would typically have described multicommunity collaboration as something that would not work. Communities and especially rural communities, it was argued, were by nature too competitive and independent to ever collaborate in any meaningful way. There were too many memories of economic, ethnic and athletic rivalries, too many grudges over regional status lost and gained and too much mistrust to even allow the kind of communication that cooperative development projects require.

For example, during the 1970s, local economic development was largely self-centred; even relatively small places created industrial parks and engaged the services of economic development administrators, with very little attention to regional development alternatives, even in declining rural areas. Even today, most of our development policies are aimed at maintaining or restoring the economic vitality of Main Street and only a few theorists are describing new community forms that are not centred on a traditional central place definition of community.

Interestingly enough, while policy-makers have debated ways to support traditional rural communities? the residents of those communities have themselves begun to define new configurations for their institutions. In doing so, they are in fact redefining the rural community, developing new structures to meet their situation and disproving many of the experts who have argued that multicommunity development is impossible. We in the universities are just becoming aware of how far these local communities have come in creating co-operative and diverse solutions to their problems and how diverse these solutions already are.

Examples abound of communities taking the lead in moving beyond their borders to create a larger vision and community. One is a major community revitalisation initiative, titled Project Future, launched by the Minnesota Extension Service (MES) in the 1980s. Defined as a locally based citizen driven comprehensive planning programme, Project Future invites communities to make a realistic evaluation of their condition and foals and to define action which can be taken locally to address disparities between the two. The University faculty members who created Project Future saw it as a programme for communities in the traditional sense. In fact, they based much of their thinking on the traditional notion that co-operation between rural communities was at best unlikely. They were surprised when one of their first pilot sites, the small mining community of Silver Bay, informed them that such a concept was ridiculous and spontaneously invited three other communities to join in the project, calling themselves collectively: East Lake County.

East Lake County has since engaged in co-operative studies of labour and retail markets, developed joint recreational plans and formed joint economic development groups; these have not been isolated examples. In these and other Project Future communities, we found that not only the traditional decision-makers, but increasing numbers of new leaders, often women and youth, have been instrumental in leading communities to explore new areas beyond local boundaries: small business development, tourism, home-based business, entrepreneurial programmes for youth and other areas.

In fact, MES discovered that the single most under-utilised resource in our state is women in leadership positions, who could identify new areas for local development and help build partnerships and networks with other new groups and agencies. This discovery underscored the need for MES to expand its view and the scope of its programming and to change its whole way of working with people and communities. We have discovered that the strongest and most viable communities adapting to the new environment were those being led by new types of leadership; leadership usually composed of all segments of the population regardless of sex or age.

Role of women and families in a rural development-situation

In Minnesota, studies of Minnesota power structures in rural communities confirm that women in these areas have historically not risen to leadership positions. Some exceptions occurred in education, where women were school superintendents; or in communications, where some were newspaper editors. More often, women were identified as leaders in the role of spouse of an established male leader.

We have found, however, that rural women play a strong informal role in decision-making. A 1988 study on Minnesota farm women by Sharon Danes, a MES family social scientist, shows that women are very highly involved, both in farm labour and farm management decisions (Dares, 1988). For example, 80% of the 1500 women surveyed indicated that they made decisions jointly with their husbands about plans for farm operations; and over 66% made joint decisions about buying or selling land. Overall, 25% shared equal responsibilities for the entire farm operation and another 23% handled book-keeping, information and financial decisions. Additionally, the study indicated that with the recent farm crisis, many farm women have also entered the work force to meet the basic necessities of their families while continuing to assist with farm operations.

Despite these findings, women and children in the U.S.A., as in many cultures, are often viewed and treated publicly as second-class citizens, without leadership ability or political power. While many cultures revere children, they allow them no voice in decisions that affect them.

To try to change that imbalance, MES is working to reinforce and help redefine the changing role of women and families and to better reflect the reality of our changing rural communities. To do this, we needed to expand our old concept of 'agriculture' to include all of the areas that so closely relate to it. Our new definition now includes, besides farming and the entire agricultural industry: communities, families (including people of all ages), small business development, environmental concerns and many other areas. In Minnesota, I see a relationship between good agriculture, community and family in improving the quality of life in a rural area, with an increasingly important role for women and families in helping to bring this about. For example, Project Future, noted earlier, focuses on all resources in community leadership, on small business and retention and homebased business, as well as agriculture. Good rural development needs to work through a series of interactive parts, including all of the above.

Some examples of programmes addressing the importance of women and families in the success of rural development include several programmes in Minnesota that now provide leadership programmes, such as the Minnesota Rural Futures Programme, aimed specifically at farm women; and a statewide MES Family Community Leadership (FCL) programme, largely female.

The Minnesota Rural Futures Programme is a new state-wide organization interested in: (1) seeing women more involved in public policy decisions about the future of the rural areas in Minnesota, and (2) assisting women in reaching leadership positions in agricultural occupations and organizations. MES has just been invited to join Minnesota Rural Futures in a Rural Women's Leadership Institute, a proposed three-year programme whose mission is to create a model or alternative system of leadership that is both flexible and developmental and that is visionary, with education and systems change at its core. The focus of this programme is to "recognise, enhance, support and utilise the leadership skills of rural women... by activating rural women and facilitating the integration of rural women and their skills into rural policy decision-making and public life." We will begin focus groups for this project this year.

The MES Family Community Leadership (FCL) programme, begun in 1988, emphasises that: everyone is a leader, everyone can make a contribution to the community; working together is more effective than working alone and family and community concerns are valid and important. To date, nearly 250 individuals from fifty-seven of our eighty-seven counties have attended the 30-hour FCL Institute. This core of people starts a ripple effect as each team reaches out with education to many other people within their communities. In one county, for example, the team contributed their expertise to child-care issues; in other counties, the programmes have focused on other concerns (Family Community Leadership, 1991, p. 9).

Role of co-operative extension and agricultural advisory services in education for rural development and leadership of women and families

The first step in defining roles of informal education organizations is to recognise the need to change who we are and what we do. A University of Minnesota Regent, Jean Keffeler said: "Change is inevitable. Organizations can choose change or they can chase it." An initial step in this change is the need to move from our old limiting definition of agriculture to the new one, described above, that includes families, communities, small business development and others as integrated and equally important to farming.

The second step is to more precisely define the changed role and potential for extension and agricultural advisory services. In Minnesota, for example, as extension educators, we provide education in at least four ways: (1) providing specific information to individuals and groups (technology transfer), such as providing an information sheet about dairy production to a farmer, (2) helping people use information to make wise decisions (such as family financial management, computer decision aids, etc.); (3) assisting groups, communities and sectors to identify and resolve problems (Project Future, noted earlier, is an example of helping community members work together to improve their situations); and (4) empowering people and building capacity for long-term development; many of our leadership development programmes are related to this (Patton, 1988).

A third step is to recognise that making the needed changes will not be easy, including redefining roles of women and youth in leadership positions. We are changing, but very slowly and not without being challenged from both within the organization and from the people we serve, who do not want us to change from the way we have done things in the past.

We are calling the changes we are making 'second order changes' (Boss, 1992), moving from merely trying to fix things on the surface to really changing the way we work in our communities. Beginning with our redefinition of agriculture and rural development, we are creating a new framework out of which to operate, in which we work beyond the first step described above, of just transferring information, to the most important and the most difficult step of empowering people to make their own changes.

What are the elements of 'second order' change for extension} Briefly, they include: (1) the need to include others, or 'networking'; (2) internal restructuring to accommodate this idea, resulting in a grouping of counties called count 'clustering'; (3) training our county agents to specialise in particular subjects determined by and serving, the entire county cluster; and (4) increased emphasis on leadership development, especially for women and families, but also including agricultural leaders.

First, regarding networking, it is critically important to form alliances and networks with other agencies and organizations in rural agricultural communities, again, not only in agriculture, but also in youth and families, home-based businesses, tourism and other related areas important to the health and well-being of the community.

To address and model this growing trend towards co-operation and collaboration, MES in the 1980s initiated the idea of county clusters, recognising that Extension Programmes required more specialised expertise than was provided by traditional local staffing or was possible with diminished local resources. Minnesota invited counties to join in multicounty clusters to share agent skills for high-priority programmes. Like the idea of the small communities banding together noted above, this concept was initially greeted with understandable scepticism. Why would counties voluntarily share such resources with their neighbours? How would they overcome their naturally competitive and suspicious natures ? Why should we expect such a voluntary programme to work when past efforts at regional co-operation had been only marginally successful? Again, like the local communities, the counties themselves answer these questions by realistically assessing their own situations, identifying high-priority programmes required by those conditions, defining staffing skills appropriate to those programmes, forming joint committees and entering into cluster agreements that have proved highly successful.

County clustering is not mandated by state or federal government' but allows regional groupings to form organically, based on a local interpretation of need and a local search for solutions. Clustering demonstrates the ability of rural communities, often led by women and youth, to work co-operatively when that co-operation is in their best interest. Clustering also shows how far MES has gone beyond the step of just transferring information to actually helping people make informed decisions and take action for themselves.

The best example of how MES began this shift in an educational direction began in 1985, when our state governor asked MES to help rural residents who were losing their farms to foreclosures. We soon discovered that the problem affected not just agriculture, but also the farm families and the communities that depended on these farms. It was then that we really began to learn to form networks with other community agencies-churches, schools, social service agencies and others to address this critical issue. Farm management was only a part of the problem; MES also had to address issues such as family financial management, stress management, youth at risk (teenagers committing suicide), and families and communities visibly disintegrating. These programmes took MES beyond the first step of educating, through transfer of information, through the next three steps of helping people make wise decisions, helping groups (including creditors and bankers) and communities address their own problems and finally, empowering people to create and act upon long-term development plans for themselves.

I will now turn briefly to some of the MES leadership programmes we have developed in the last few years for women and youth. Besides the statewide Family Community Leadership (FCL) programme noted earlier, there are several cluster-wide leadership programmes such as Project LEAD, a seven-county programme developed m West Central Minnesota. The goal of Project LEAD is: "to develop a cadre of women leaders in West Central Minnesota with a sense of vision, an orientation towards action and a persuasive ability to bring that vision into reality, so that they have greater options in assuming community leadership and in influencing public policy for the betterment of their families and their communities" (Project LEAD Factsheet, 1991).

This goal speaks directly to what I have been talking about today. As a result of participating in the leadership education programme, the Project LEAD task force and staff hope that women will be able to:

About twenty-five women of all ages m the seven-county area will participate in a two-year programme, with a third year of continuing support groups available. The final sessions will include a tour of the state capitol and visit with state legislators. Each person will bring a personal or community issue to work with in class and will develop an individual learning contract with the project leaders. The classes will be taught by area resource people such as counsellors, teachers, county extension agents and graduates from other leadership training courses (note how networking with other groups is being done).

Although this is only one example of current leadership programmes, we have encouraging results from programmes established several years ago. About ten years ago, a woman named Mary Page, an active volunteer in her community who also helped her spouse manage a pharmacy in their small West Central Minnesota home town, participated in a Minnesota Extension Service leadership programme, where she learned about the process of local government. She became so interested in the political process that she ran for mayor of her town and served for two terms. Following that, she became a member of our state extension advisory committee and based on the perspective she gained there, campaigned successfully for one of twelve positions on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents? where she is now serving her third year of a six-year term. Building on her continuing interest in local government and the need she sees in her home community for dramatic improvement, she campaigned, again successfully, for a county commissioner position, where she is now looking for ways to help her county government address some pressing needs. I am looking forward eagerly to the next move of this increasingly strong and effective individual; I will not be surprised if she decides to run for political office in either the state legislature or the federal Congress.

In all of its leadership programmes, MES plays a significant role: (1) we provide decision-making information and assist with teaching how to interpret it; (2) we teach emerging female leaders how to gain access to such information; (3) we teach topics such as decision-making skills and conflict resolution; and (4) our programmes provide opportunities for emerging female leaders to practice some of these skills.


I see a major leadership role for extension educators of the future in helping comparable extension organizations in participating countries move away from service roles to true educational leadership. This can be accomplished through: addressing local issues identified by the people; having the flexibility to respond to rapidly changing needs; providing research-based information and building working relationships with each other to sustain and support these efforts.

The point I wish to leave you with is that, as educational providers, we must expand our idea of extension educational services beyond technology transfer and into providing educational leadership, in which women and families play a critically important role. Only in this way will we be truly effective in helping people learn to co-operate and to form their own networks to improve their communities.


Borich, P.J. (1991). 'Multicommunity Collaboration: A Role for Extension Education', presented at the North Central Regional Multicommunity Collaboration Conference, Chicago, Illinois, 6 November.

Boss, P. (1992). Family Social Science, University of Minnesota, quoted in 'Second Order Change is Our First Order of Business', Responding to Change, MES Publication March AD-FO-5906-S.

Danes, S. (1988) 'Minnesota Farm Women: Who are They and What do They do'?'. Summary of the 1988 Farm Women's Survey, Minnesota Rural Futures.

Family Community Leadership (FCL) Programme. (1991). MES Annual Report 1991, Extenovations, Vol. 12, n.4, p. 9.

Project LEAD Factsheet. (1991). Chippewa Country Extension Office, Minnesota Extension Service.

Patton, Q.M. (1988). 'Extension's Future: Beyond Technology Transfer', Journal of Extension, 4 (July-August).

Rural development through the establishment of a community partnership company: the upper Meza valley development programme1

1Case study presented at the Eighth FAO/REU International Rural Development Summer School, Malaga, 18-23 September 1995.

M. Mesl

Nov'na Studio for Rural Development, Ravne na Koroskem, Slovenia

The agency Nov'na Studio for Rural Development decided to extend its Rural Community Development programme through the establishment of a Community Partnership Programme (ALP) based on the process of 'activating local potential' in the Upper Meza Valley of Slovenia.

In developing the Programme for ALP four elements were deemed important:

Background data for programme development

An analysis of the area to be developed (Upper Meza Valley) revealed the potential, the problems and the obstacles against development of the potential. These were manifested in the following way:

The conclusions for this analysis were: that the overall potential for development is good and there is opportunity for individual entrepreneurial initiative and ideas but the following obstacles must be overcome:

To overcome the outlined obstacles it was necessary to organize the individual development of the area into a comprehensive united development activity through a community effort. This opened up opportunities for further development in relation to accessing information, start up capital and for assuring the necessary infrastructure conditions in the area for the development of new economic activities and for the future quality of life.

The concept

The concept was that ALP be established as a Community Partnership Company and that it should be:

The partners

The partners in the company, who expressed their interest in shareholding, are:

In the first phase thirty companies and individuals signed the agreement to join the company. The input for each member for the establishment of the company was from 50 000 to 200 000 Slovenian Tolars (about £250-1000).

The strategy

According to the potential and the needs defined in the Development Programme, the company strategy will be mainly oriented towards:

ALP Operational programme. Priority projects and activities

The ALP Operational Programme as outlined includes the priority projects and activities for the year of initiation 1994-95. These include:

Establishment of the local development company

Elaboration of the concept, organization of the community partnership in developing and marketing the products of the area


Professionalisation of the community development efforts with the establishment of a partnership company is a new concept in the Nov'na Organization. Therefore to be successful in the pilot example (in the Upper Meza Valley) it has to be systematically and efficiently prepared and developed.

Aims and purpose

Expected results

In this development, experience from EU member countries (Ireland and Scotland), where the concept is known and successful, will be adapted to the Meza Valley environment. The transfer of this model and experience to other parts of Slovenia can offer an opportunity for change at a time when the whole system of communal organization is in the process of change.


Financing sources will be:

Building renewal and equipment


In the Upper Meza Valley there is no community or business centre suitable for developing common activities and services. On the other hand there are a lot of unexplored buildings in the area.

One of the partners in the company, i.e. the Forestry organization, offered the company a building in the centre of Crna na Koroskem, which can be developed into a company seat and business centre for the whole area.

The valley, which is known for hard industry (mining), with no tradition in small businesses and entrepreneurship and which has a very typical rural Slovenian settlement (two local centres, more than twenty small villages and a lot of individual farms in the high mountains), needs a Development Centre to provide support and services.

Aims and purpose

Expected results

The provision of:


Financing sources will be:

Entrepreneurship and small business development

Business centre development


There are five consultancy and development agencies in the Community of Ravne na Koroskem, there is also a lot of specific knowledge in other companies in the area, which is not recognised nor offered to the potential users. On the other hand, in the area there are more than 220 private companies and enterprises, which are searching for the development and administration support for their businesses. There are more than 500 unemployed people, with a growing potential of unemployment from existing industry. There is a generation of about 110 young school students with almost no job opportunities and there are farmers, looking for opportunities to supplement their income, which is badly needed in the high mountain farms. All of them are potential users of the business centre, because they are thinking about self employment but they do not know how to start. Many people need to do something but they do not know what and how; they may have already started a business but do not know how to manage finance and marketing; others want to expand their business but they do not have money and knowledge.

Aims and purpose

To develop a business centre with appropriate offices in order to:

Expected results


Financing sources will be:

Motivation and training activities for small business development


There is a negative climate and image in the area which needs to be changed. This is due to the poor economic structure, poor income, traditional thinking and general stagnation with rising unemployment. Some entrepreneurs have taken the initiative for self employment, but all of the potential entrepreneurs face the same problems at the beginning i.e. how to start, where to get money, how to organize and how to avoid the risk involved in new businesses. There is a lack of information and specific knowledge on these aspects.

There are a lot of motivation and training programmes for entrepreneurship and small business development in Slovenia. But mostly, they are too far away, they are expensive and they are not relevant to the needs of all target groups. Training programmes which are tailored to the 'needs' of the people concerned are required.

Aims and purpose

Expected results

According to the needs expressed in the preparation phase of the project, there will be about 150 people involved in different kinds of motivational and training activities in the first year. A group of ten people will be involved in the 'training of trainers' programme through the technical support given by the EU project and partners.


Development of the prospective economic activities

Development of the community tourism product 'King's Matjaz Park'

Marketing strategy' and promotion


The King's Matjaz Park has a cultural and historic significance which provides attractions for both natives and foreigners. Therefore, a global promotional strategy is being prepared under the brand name of King's Matjaz Park'. This will include a marketing and communication plan which will market benefits and features and will be supported by promotional material and action.

Aims and purpose

Expected results


Information centre of King's Matjaz Park


The essential tourism infrastructure in the area is developed (hotels, inns and restaurants, ski facilities) but nobody really markets them and because of that they are empty and in bad condition. The potential for tourism development is great but the information infrastructure for its promotion is poor.

Aims and purpose

Expected results


Arrangement of the thematic tourist roads


In the initial project of the 'King's Matjaz Park' (KMP) there are several thematic tourist roads planned as mountain bike roads, historical roads, geological roads, etc. These roads will contribute to the whole tourism offer and attract specific target groups of tourists. Development of thematic roads will also be the basis for further development of the supplementary services and tourism offer for the potential carriers in the mountainous rural surroundings.

Aims and purpose

Expected results


Tourism attraction 'underground of Peca Mountain '


The area, which is not known as a tourist destination, needs a special element to attract tourists. The 300 year old mining tradition is the most important heritage of the area and this can provide the much needed attraction for the area. Within the initial project, a programme for development of the interpretation centre in the old mining shaft on the mountain is being prepared. In about 1.5 km of shafts, tourists will be able to see the development of mining over 300 years, the life of miners in different historical periods and natural development of minerals. Such attractions cannot be found anywhere place else in Slovenia or in neighbouring countries.

Aim and purpose

Expected results


Development of the ski-fields on the Peca Mountain


On the other Austrian side of the Peca mountain there is already a well known ski centre. Development of the common facilities on both the Slovenian and the Austrian side of Peca is an old idea which is now an opportunity for development. The plan includes extending the ski fields from the Austrian side across the top of the mountain to the Slovenian side as well as the development of ski-lifts and support services. This will be supported by investment from the Austrian partners.

Aims and purpose

Expected results


Development of the hotel Planinka in Crna Na Koroskem


In the privatisation process, the local Community of Crna na Koroskem became the owner of the Hotel Planinka in the town centre which represents the basic tourism infrastructure and the largest accommodation facility in the area. The hotel is in a very bad condition. The planned tourism offer of KMP demands a high quality infrastructure.

Aims and purpose

Expected results


Wood production

Initial project for the development of forestry and wood processing in the area


The Meza Valley is known as one of the most developed forested areas in Slovenia and especially for the quality of the wood. The annual cutting capacity planned in the area is about 90 000 cubic meters. There is a state forestry unit, which covers about 20% of this plan (forty-two employees). There is also a basic production unit, which is in the process of closing down. Otherwise there are only twenty-two small businesses and enterprises in the field of wood production in this area. Forests are the largest natural resource of the area and they can offer many more opportunities for the development of economic activities.

Aim and purpose

To verify the possibilities for development of new activities through the better connection and organization of private and state owned forests, through maintaining the basic production unit (saw mill) in the area on the basis of a co-operative and through the further development of small businesses in wood processing.


The initial project will be financed partly from the local partners input and partly through the Ministry for Economic Affairs, fund for small business development.

New economic activities based on the tradition of metal industry

ALP Company will ensure support for the development of new programmes and activities for the restructuring of the basic industry, mining, metal production and machinery.

Some of the partners have already suggested prospective programmes for professional and financial support. For example:


The establishment of a Community Partnership Company can be a major instrument in the Rural Development process. Developments in the Meza Valley Region indicate that community partnership can significantly contribute to the transformation of an economically depressed area into a viable one.

The development of enterprising initiatives in rural communities: a study from Austria's Waldviertel region1

1Case study presented at the Eighth FAO/REU international Rural Development Summer School, Malaga, Spain, 18-23 September 1995.

R. Grendl

Waldviertel Management, 3910 Zwettl, Edelhof 3, Austria


About fifteen years ago a crisis management programme was set up to address the massive problems of the Waldviertel Region. The following key data highlight the urgency of this undertaking.

The Waldviertel Region with its 240 000 inhabitants is located in the north-west part of the province of Lower Austria about 100 km from the federal capital of Vienna. The Region is on a hilly plateau at an altitude of 500 to 1000 m and covers an area of about 4600 km². The southern boundary is formed by the Danube Valley, a very narrow zone subject to massive tourism. Fifteen years ago the northern boundary was the Iron Curtain, i.e. the border with what was then Czechoslovakia. The Region does not have any large urban areas; rather, it is an agricultural and forested area with small rural settlements.

The traditional economic activities of the Region were dominated by the textile industry, especially along the border. The lumber industry and several others developed as a result of the abundant forests in the Region. The barren soil (high in granite content) and the rather rough climate were not conducive to traditional agriculture, hence, the farm sizes ranged from twelve to twenty-four ha. The problems of tourism were numerous, but mostly due to a scarcity of hotels and inns and the low quality of private rooms and other accommodation which were located on farms. Furthermore' there were no new recreational/vacation activities offered to meet the increasing demand in this sector.

The economic boom of the 1960s by-passed the Region due both to the difficulty in attracting new businesses so close to the border with the Eastern Bloc, and to the extremely cautious and somewhat stubborn mentality of the inhabitants which was not open to innovations of any kind. In addition, special border-area subsidies for trade and industry in the 1970s attracted a number of speculators, which further aggravated the precarious situation in the Region.

The only effective measures taken were the Government-sponsored educational programmes, which provided the Region with a wide range of excellent schools. These programmes, however, resulted in the departure of many young people from the Region in search of job opportunities elsewhere. Most of them, as in the Middle Ages, flocked to the large towns following the age-old slogan, 'city air makes you free.'

The Region's background is fundamental to understanding the problemsolving approach of Waldviertel Management. In the beginning, it consisted of only one manager, Adolf Kastner and one secretary. But soon it grew into a small group of three or four people who, like Kastner, worked to further the development of the Region while holding other full-time jobs.

Waldviertel management's approach

Waldviertel Management first took action in the agricultural sector. Looking back 100 years into history, the considerable changes in agricultural products produced in the Region becomes quite evident. In those days both large and small farms cultivated crops that generally required sizeable fields, such as poppy, flax and dinkel (hard winter wheat). In addition, medicinal and other herbs as well as spices were grown. A closer look at the reasons for the prevalence of these plants shows that the rough climate in the Region forced the farmers to produce a wider variety of plants, which in turn lead to tastier and more nutritious foodstuffs. The historical richness of the Region's agricultural production was integrated into Waldviertel Management's advertising and public relations programmes.

The first and foremost task was to motivate the Region's inhabitants interest in their towns, villages and smaller communities. This was not only a question of convincing but sometimes required provocation.. Farmers had to be made aware that if they stuck to their current products, milk, cereals, pork, their future would be limited. In addition, Waldviertel Management had to make it clear that these products would not help the Region to survive if produced through traditional methods. The most difficult task was to explain to the farmers that they had to become entrepreneurs by refining the products themselves and initiating most of the marketing activities.

Waldviertel Management was founded to carry out these educational tasks. An organization for the promotion of specialised cultivating methods, Waldviertel Management, was designed to bring together all those concerned with these regional issues, enabling them to tackle the problems in a spirit of togetherness. To save on investment costs, Waldviertel Management provided its members with counselling, training and agricultural machinery for sowing, harvesting, drying, cleaning and packaging. Today, the farmers operate all of the equipment themselves to save on labour costs.

The system also provides for contractual arrangements, in which the farmers are guaranteed an agreed-upon minimum price for a defined quality of their products. Irrespective of such arrangements, farmers can sell unlimited quantities of their products directly to the consumer.

For a given product, Waldviertel Management guarantees the marketing of those quantities stipulated in the contract. Producers may decide once a year which crop they wish to cultivate. The most crucial aspect is quality. If several farmers produce the same crops, mixing is not permitted. This assures that every farmer markets only his own products, even within the organization. Monitoring of the process is effected through a system of identification numbers allocated to each producer and product.

An organization similar to Waldviertel Management was set up for animal husbandry, focusing on free-range poultry and fresh fish. Here, too, quality is the hallmark for marketing.

Today, the two organizations have about 1000 member enterprises. They are also partners in Waldviertel Trading Ges.m.b.H., which sells members' products world-wide through trading companies for health food, catering organizations and its own shops.

Within this system it is essential for members to act in true entrepreneurial spirit; they are not only responsible for making their individual decisions with respect to contracts for cultivating and marketing, but are also responsible for the profits of their own company. All of this is, however, a long and sometimes tedious process, since motivation alone is simply not enough. Counselling and special training take time and patience.

A similar concept has been developed in the field of tourism. All those interested in renting out rooms and/or providing catering services, joined together into seven farm 'Guest Rings.' They have an umbrella organization within Waldviertel Management and their own travel agency for incoming and outgoing business. Only those applicants who fully met Waldviertel Management's quality requirements were selected. This was not easy and involved tact and understanding of the regional mentality. Moreover, much administrative work was required to obtain national subsidies for all of those interested in the project.

Advertising and public relation campaigns for the entire Region were intensified. Target groups were selected and packages offered. The 'Guest Rings' focused on counselling, maintenance and improvement of their enterprises. Waldviertel Management and the tourist agency were responsible for obtaining subsidies, making travel arrangements and designing programmes.

Young people turned out to be an interesting and promising target group. Many former school buildings in small villages were taken over by local organizations and converted into youth hostels with 'no-star' facilities. Beds were put into former classrooms. Simple toilet and shower facilities as well as dining and common rooms were set up as well.

These local organizations operate the hostels with their own staff (part-time or hourly workers), which make them affordable for young people. The hostels are supplied by local shopkeepers, bakers, grocers and butchers, to ensure that these small-scale enterprises survive. The hostels provide accommodation for people who wish to take care of their own meals, although full board is also available. The difference between these and other youth hostels is that here only groups are accepted.

Another innovative idea is to approach schools which organize 'project weeks'; the Waldviertel Management Tourist Agency offers them a complete package deal including bus transfers from the schools, programme organization, accommodation and full board. This means considerably less work for the teachers and additional income for regional businesses.

In the field of accommodation and catering, Waldviertel Management focused on counselling, since the participants needed help in refurbishing and reconstructing the buildings. As already mentioned, assistance was also offered in order to facilitate obtaining the badly needed, subsidies. Waldviertel Management also motivated the participants to concentrate on regional products and to promote regional culinary specialities.

As in the field of agriculture, personal advice was also imperative in tourism. Waldviertel Management had to convince those interested that an organization such as itself is able and willing to offer genuine support in the form of training, on-going information dissemination, assistance, etc.

Today, tourism, which both secures and creates jobs, is an important economic factor in the Region. Additional income is generated by renting out rooms both on farms and in private houses. For many, staying in the Region has not only become possible, but is actually attractive.

Another word on tourism: Waldviertel Management's activities in this sector have reached a European dimension. It receives about 40 000 inquiries each year, mostly from outside of the Region and the country. All of these inquiries handled by the Waldviertel Management Tourist Agency. The benefactors are the small units who wish to cater to tourists. For them, renting out rooms means additional income, particularly during the off-peak season.

Recently Waldviertel Management ventured into a new territory: telecommunications. Waldviertel Management has installed a so-called 'Telehouse,' which offers its services to small and medium-sized enterprises in the Region. Waldviertel Management can boast up-to-date computer facilities, with more than 100 users already enroled. Its services range from office support for a one-person business to design and production of advertising materials in small quantities, joint presentations at trade fairs, book-keeping, sales intermediaries, matching or exchanging of commodities. as well as printing and publishing. Waldviertel Management also has its own internet provider so that all users can access the internet at local phone charges.

Waldviertel Management uses the same approach in all of its activities: First, it motivates and then subsequently provides personal counselling, offers the services of an organization and makes available special assistance such as training facilities.

A few practical examples

'Telehouse' takes care of office work and organizational matters for 'Happy Horse,' a one-man company producing dust-free litter for stables. Happy Horse exports to top riding schools all over Europe. Waldviertel Management handles all inquiries and orders, while Telehouse organizes design, printing and delivery of advertising material. After Happy Horse came up with the idea to market its product, Telehouse, a part of Waldviertel Management, provided support, counselling and helped organize the company.

Another example that may sound rather simple is called 'Gardener Fax'. On one specified day of the week, the small commercial gardeners in the Region submit their offer of plants and other products to Waldviertel Management. The individual offers are collected and bundled and sent back to the gardeners in the form of a complete information package. This leads to an exchange of commodities within the Region. The users contact local colleagues and get what they need instead of having to travel 100 km to reach the nearest wholesale market. This way cash flow and financial transactions are kept in the Region.

The following are additional cases where motivation and assistance in organizing the necessary funds allowed the parties concerned to take the initiative and set up appropriate structures.

Waldviertel flax co-operative

Flax, a historical crop of the Region, had not been grown in Waldviertel for fifteen years. As part of the development of agricultural alternatives, flax was given more attention. Some courageous farmers started to grow this crop again but had to ship the flax to Belgium for further processing. As a result of the increasing area under flax cultivation, a co-operative was founded and soon the first Austrian flax processing plant was set up. Despite many fluctuations in the price of fibre, there are over 400 farms today that derive additional income from the cultivation of this crop. In the future the cooperative plans to work with textile designers in the Region and will also manufacture high-quality and up-scale linen textiles that will be sold in speciality shops.

The cheese makers

About forty sheep and goat breeders have joined forces and produce high quality and internationally renowned cheeses made in their own production facility. The products are sold in speciality shops and upscale supermarkets and are extremely popular. The present number of producers cannot even meet the demand for these cheeses.

The key decisive factor in this example was the motivation to pursue a new direction in agriculture. As the basic attitude of many farmers in the Region had already developed in this direction, it was relatively easy to set up the organization when the time was ripe for these ideas and when people were courageous enough to follow them through.

Biotraining centre

The internationally known therapeutic masseur Willi Dungl was looking for a site for his health and training centre. The opening of the Waldviertel Region to the health industry persuaded Mr. Dungl to get in touch with Waldviertel Management. A vacant hotel, a historical building from the turn of the century, was offered to Mr. Dungl who then converted it into a health and training centre. Dungl's health centre has directly created more than 100 qualified jobs and has provided multiple stimuli for tourism in the area. As a consequence of his activities, a number of agricultural enterprises have found a new market as they switch to organic farming to supply the health and training centre. Here, too, the ground had been prepared with the necessary motivation to facilitate putting new ideas into practice. Waldviertel Management provided assistance in obtaining funds and subsidies and by advising the farmers and training the staff before the opening of the Centre. The image of the Biotraining Centre continues to provide stimuli for further developments in the Region.

These examples show that Waldviertel Management is open to all ideas and can offer assistance in the realisation of projects if help is required. During Waldviertel Management's first years of operation it was essential that the widespread resignation give way to a new spirit and optimism. Waldviertel today has the reputation of being an open-minded, future-oriented Region with a vision. Many people now bring their projects and business ideas from outside of the Region to realise them in the special Waldviertel atmosphere.

The aforementioned projects include only those in which Waldviertel Management has become active through its own members. This approach is taken only when small enterprises need new structures, but lack specialised management expertise in spite of abundant motivation.


The examples cited demonstrate a model which has been successful in the Waldviertel Region. The process began with motivational and pro-active steps at the local level. An organizational structure had to be set up for the parties concerned, so that individuals with ideas had a framework in which to operate. The structure of Waldviertel Management also resulted from the desire of the provincial government of Lower Austria for there to be an institution capable of carrying out crisis management in the Waldviertel Region, even with the uncertainty of not knowing the outcome of just such an initiative.

Today Waldviertel Management with its co-operatives and associated businesses is an organization of small enterprises that provides assistance to other enterprises and is an important employment generator in the Region in its own right.

What has remained important for the system to this day is that Waldviertel Management is not an end in itself, but an association that offers assistance and promotes self-help to all parties in the Region that require it.

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