CORD – Crossing the Bridges with the Help of Ambassadors – is the latest initiative out of HEPA and was set up under the Interreg VA Slovakia-Hungary Cooperation Program to boost cross-border cooperation and improve relationships between start-ups, potential entrepreneurs, and SMEs in Hungary and Slovakia. The project took place over the course of one and a half years and had 400 companies from both countries participate at 17 events, including trainings, lectures, and B2B meet-ups. Workshop topics included exports, foreign market opportunities, company development, marketing, and HR. There was also a specific focus on available opportunities for female entrepreneurs.
CORD was funded by a € 340,000 grant and first assessed the current availability of public programs that support SMEs, startups, and female entrepreneurs in the cross-border region. Surveys found that most companies had no idea that such programs and resources did in fact exist. CORD thus set out to help companies find out about available business development opportunities and developed a publication, video series, and website, all dedicated to finding and disseminating information about publicly funded organizations and institutions that offered support to this niche.
Aside from the emphasis on female entrepreneurs, there were also specific resources for entrepreneurs looking to set up their companies in both Hungary and Slovakia. The Follow Program came out of CORD as well, where the three most successful Hungarian and Slovakian executives promoted the program’s partner organizations by sharing their own experiences.
Over the course of the year and a half, some 70,000 people from Hungary and Slovakia were able to learn about resources and opportunities open to them to start and grow their own business. The CORD program will conclude at the end of October, but due to its success, HEPA has indicated that it will pursue other such events in the future.