Our YEN program has seen encouraging progress last year, with more than a dozen business ideas put together by local participants in collaboration with foreign volunteers who joined us on trips. We have increased the impact of our YEN programs by developing a more interactive workshop format that produces real, usable, solid business ideas. Choson Exchange programs have also provided a platform for local entrepreneurs to meet like-minded people from other parts of the country.
In 2016, we organized 4 workshops for our YEN program, which included an incubation program co-organized with a Korean team we had trained on lean startup thinking overseas. We had 194 local participants from 27 different businesses or teams. 80% of the participants believe the workshops provided them with knowledge that can be applied in their worklife and up to 90% believe our program helped them broaden their network.
Alumni of an earlier overseas program organized by Choson Exchange in Singapore returned home to establish DPR Korea’s first startup incubator at their institution, spending weeks teaching their colleagues on business topics they had learned about overseas. Thanks to their coaching efforts, participants at our YEN workshops were well-prepared, arriving with draft business model canvases and startup ideas they had discussed among their teams. Choson Exchange volunteers helped take their ideas to the next level with training on lean startup methods, project management, marketing, and advice on business model generation. The result: Seven solid ideas with complete business models and pitches, some of which may continue to be pursued by local entrepreneurs.
Besides, the “Cross-regional” workshops brought together business women and men from different parts of the country to learn about hospitality and retail business, marketing, sustainable development, and how entrepreneurs can use a business model canvas to develop their ideas. Participants created business plans that were assessed by the audience and workshop leaders.
The exposure of local participants to the latest trends in entrepreneurship and technology has sparked interest in launching more online services on the Korean intranet. Ideas developed during Choson Exchange workshops range from a kind of “Facebook for mothers” and online medical services to trading platforms on the intranet.