Vera Pokorny (Germany, Human Rights & Journalism) and Valentina Zoccali (Belgium, Non-Profit Communications)

New Entrepreneur (NE)
Name & Surname: Vera Pokorny
Country: Austria
Age: 28
Sector of activity: Human Rights Journalism
Did you already start your business? No

Host Entrepreneur (HE)
Name & Surname: Valentina Zoccali
Country: Belgium
Sector of activity: communication
Experience in running a business (in years): 7
Name of business/website: Sustainable Communication,
What is your business? International non-profit organization

Period of exchange: 11/01/2021 – 28/02/2021
Duration of exchange: 2 months

How did Vera further develop her business idea while spending time with Valentina in Brussels?

I am an Austrian human rights specialist with a strong bond to China, having spent my childhood years in China and gone on to study Chinese Studies doing a master’s in Human Rights. My experience in the field of human rights and my interest in investigative journalism brought me to the idea to found an investigative journal, HumanPrism, that would cover human rights in Europe.

I found Valentina and her organization through EYE and was drawn both to her business and the fact that it was located in Brussels, the heart of the EU. After an initial exchange and in spite of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we decided that we were a good match and our exchange began in the beginning of January 2021. During my time with Valentina I was able to not only develop and deepen skills related to project management, giving presentations and carrying out research, but I was also able to get a better understanding of what direction I wanted my own business to go in. On top of that I had the opportunity to work in French and sometimes Italian, which was a great learning opportunity for me. I supported Valentina in the daily business carried out by S-Com, in a creative and open atmosphere. Through a series of exercises Valentina helped me understand how to formulate my idea and put my thoughts into order. Thanks to her expertise my idea was able to grow and evolve, and the business I have in mind now is a collective that carries out research and does publications but also holds events – as opposed to an investigative journal. From the beginning it was foreseen that there would be a break of 5 months at the end of February and I was to resume in the beginning of September. In the end an unexpected job opportunity presented itself, that will give me the possibility to work on climate change, gender equality and human rights with the UN in Bangkok and it was with a heavy heart that I took the decision to accept this opportunity. Unfortunately, this means that my exchange with Valentina was cut short, but I am deeply thankful to Valentina for all that I have learned from her in this short period of time. There are many things that I could take away from this experience for the future, not just on a professional level.

I believe that I am one step closer to founding my business in the future and my plan is to found my business within the next few years.