At the end of August 2004, an extraordinary event took place in the Alytus region. One hundred people gathered together to accomplish a great mission. Business Angels undertook a project called “Mes zinome kelia,” (“We Know the Way” in English) which attracted a lot of young people and businessmen to the region.

It is common knowledge that every year a large number of school-leavers leave their homes to study in big cities. Only a small percentage of them return to work and live where they were born. This is why the peripheral regions of our country are not growing in cultural or economic terms. Young, well-educated specialists do not want to return to their native towns because they see a lack of good job, business opportunities and good quality recreational facilities.

Business Angels had the idea of running a 4-day rafting tour on the Nemunas River, (the longest river in Lithuania) from the town of Druskininkai to Alytus.

Our aims were: to show school-leavers that there is a lot of space in the region to implement new business ideas, to offer a taste of the Dzukija region’s unique cultural gems and encourage a sense of patriotism and pride in the participants’ native land. The idea was to unite young people and businessmen in one common activity. Representatives from different firms took part in the rafting and the young people got the chance to get to know more about their firms and business opportunities.

13 rafts were rented for the journey and participants were divided into 13 teams. The young people from each raft wore t-shirts bearing the sponsor’s logo and each team also included one company representative.

The rafting tour wound through several of the region’s beautiful places. Participants had the chance to climb the mounds of Liskiava and Merkine, to swim in the river Merkys, and to interact with the locals. They also had the opportunity to experience the joys and agonies of camping! Every evening a camp was built on the river bank where participants could eat, compete in different games, take part in discussions and sleep.

The event was a resounding success. A subsequent opinion poll confirmed all we had hoped for and the decision was reached to hold a similar rafting event next year too.