Fisheries Areas Network

Good Practice Project

Cooperation and exchange to support sustainable local businesses

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Official Title: 
Sustainable entrepreneurship in the countryside
Exchange between businesses from three countries helps raise skills of local entrepreneurs, develop new products and encourage young people to engage in business activities.


Exchange between businesses from three countries helps raise skills of local entrepreneurs, develop new products and encourage young people to engage in business activities.

Small-scale rural entrepreneurs often find it difficult to go beyond their daily routine or develop new products/services. Finding successors who would take on the business can also be a challenge. For such entrepreneurs, getting in touch with similar businesses from other countries through exchange visits can provide inspiration, help establish mutually beneficial linkages and offer an attractive form of motivation and capacity building for potential young entrepreneurs.

Eight LEADER LAGs from Estonia, Finland and Latvia have initiated a cooperation project to help small rural entrepreneurs develop linkages with similar businesses in neighbouring countries, while at the same time involving young people who could in the future take over the business.

Each LAG has found 10 to 11 rural businesses (private entrepreneurs or NGOs) offering local products or services (rural accommodation, handicrafts, farm or village shops) interested in visiting, and receiving visits from, similar businesses from other countries. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to take along one young person (aged 16-30) from their family or local community, interested in continuing the family business or starting their own company. The key requirement for participation is knowledge of English and the willingness to welcome two people (including one young person) on a return visit. The lead LAG is responsible for the “match-making”. The paired entrepreneurs spend 3 to 7 days in the other country, learning about each other’s practices and exchanging ideas for joint action. Visitors and hosts record their experience in an “exchange diary” with photos, published on the project website.

The project also involves information and promotion activities, such as “inspiration seminars” to identify interested businesses in each LAG area, study trips and events to exchange and disseminate the experience to other potentially interested entrepreneurs, as well as the production of transnational marketing material for sustainable, rural tourism and local food from the participating LAG areas.


Although the project is still under way, there are already some practical results from the exchange visits. For example, a Finnish entrepreneur running a farm with horse therapy is going to train horse riding instructors from Estonia in her therapy methods for disabled children. Two entrepreneurs running small-scale food processing operations, one from Finland the other from Estonia, have exchanged recipes for fruit candy and preserves, and are now trying to develop a joint product based on the rosehip fruit, traditionally used in Estonia but not in Finland. An Estonian wine producer has found a cooperation partner who now sells her wines in Finland. The project has also contributed to better cooperation between entrepreneurs within the regions and to an increased recognition of the participating areas.


This project is relatively inexpensive and simple to organise but can have a strong impact on small-scale local businesses in fisheries areas, offering them an opportunity to broaden their horizons and start cooperation activities with similar businesses from other countries, while also building up business skills and motivation of potential young entrepreneurs from the same area.

Lessons & contribution to CLLD objectives: 
  • Lessons: One of the keys to the project success is trust between the partners: some of the Finnish and Estonian LAGs have a long track-record of previous cooperation and can therefore rely on their partners’ ability to identify the right type of businesses for the exchange visits. It is also important that the cooperating areas have a certain degree of similarity so that the local businesses can understand each other’s challenges and opportunities.  
  • Contribution to CLLD objective: supporting diversification outside commercial fisheries, lifelong learning and job creation; promoting social well-being and cultural heritage in fisheries and aquaculture area


Total project cost:  Between €40 000 and €80 000 per participating LAG and €100 000 from the lead partner. The funding is used mainly to cover the travel cost (including meals and accommodation) of businesses participating in the exchange. The accommodation and meals of the visiting entrepreneurs are provided by the hosts.


A cooperation project among eight LEADER LAGs:

Estonia: Arenduskoda Development Centre (lead partner), Green Riverland Partnership and East Harju Partnership

Finland: Sepra (managing the ESKO FLAG), Pirkan Helmi and Linnaseutu LAGs

Latvia: Lielupe LAG and Liepaja (F)LAG

Project information

Timeframe of implementation From Jun 2016 to Feb 2019
Sea Basins
Type of area


Arenduskoda Development Centre (LEADER LAG), Estonia


Contact details

Organisation Contacts

Arenduskoda Development Centre (LEADER LAG), Estonia
Ms. Eha Paas
Publication date: 
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