For the participants to be engaged and committed to the program, it is essential to include community building elements at an early stage in the program. Although there might be elements of community building elements throughout all sessions in terms of team work, collaboration and peer feedback, it is crucial to host an entire community building day at the beginning of the program. The nature of the community building day should depend on considerations about the interests, characteristics and willingness of the participating group of aspiring entrepreneurs as well as the resources in terms of time, place and expenses. A community building day might be organized outdoors such as in the form of a an exploratory game such as a scavenger hunt or it can be carried out indoor. One particular format employed by one of the MEnt projects was the hosting of a full-day LEGO Serious Play workshop. This implied the design of several consecutive LEGO building sessions through which participants were able to (1) express their personal motivation and reasoning for joining the program in terms of a LEGO design that represents their self-image, (2) design and articulate their business idea using LEGO to build a prototype or portray the symbolic outcomes of their business and (3) construct their vision for the MEnt community and how they envision themselves contributing to it.
It is important to be mindful of the characteristics and nature of the group of entrepreneurs. The size of the group, the willingness to interact with other participants as well as the cultural backgrounds and language proficiency should be considered when organizing a community building day that is meant to enhance the participants commitment, strengthen the motivation to develop their business idea within the project and develop a good basis for participants to support each other throughout the program. This support may be in the form of encouragement through informal conversations but also through peer to peer advice and feedback during pitch training, for example. For this to arise, trust and interest in one another needs to be built through a community building day that is engaging, fosters collaboration and communication and leaves the participants excited about being part of the program.
There is no particular tool included in this index card because the community building day, as reasoned above, should very much be designed based on the group of participants.
The expected outcome of the community building day is that participant have been able to introduce themselves to the other participants in depth, shared their business idea and vision for themselves as entrepreneurs as well as their vision for the programs community and the support participants can offer each other.
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