Meeting the voices of tomorrow – Youth Essay Competition winner Andri Pandoura

Are you ready to meet the winner of the Youth Essay Competition? At only 16 she is challenging us all to reconsider our thoughts on youth entrepreneurship and the opportunities offered to the younger generations to make their voices heard at the European level. Please welcome Andri Pandoura!

Andri is currently studying in her native Cyprus, but has already developed a keen interest in youth and human rights. She has further developed this interest through her membership of the Cyprus children’s parliament and plans to take it further by studying human rights law at university. Today she shares with us what drove her to participate, her thoughts on presenting at the SME Assembly 2016, where she sees the future of entrepreneurship and finally her words of wisdom for other ambitious young people.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

I saw it as an opportunity to write about my interest in youth rights and voice my opinions as a young person in Europe. There is a lot of over complication, so my idea was to take a simple, even childlike approach to this topic and think about all the small steps that can lead us to something bigger. In general there are not many opportunities for those of us under 18 to participate in such competitions so I think that every time there is an opportunity like this one we should take it!

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What did you think about the SME Assembly 2016?

I thought it was amazing and the ‘opportunity of a lifetime’. There was such a welcoming atmosphere and I got to speak to and interact with inspiring people who did not care that I was 16. Initially I thought that the presentation would be stressful, and honestly I was stressing about it since I found out, I thought I might even faint on stage. In the end though all the staff and other speakers really helped me to relax and feel comfortable and I just did it. I think the assembly is a great initiative as well as the competition itself and really hope it continues again next year so that others can have the same opportunity to make their voices heard.

Looking 10 years ahead from now, in 2026, what do you think entrepreneurship will be?

I don’t believe that the actual definition of entrepreneurship will change, but it will become more accessible and anyone will be able to become an entrepreneur. I hope that there will be cross-generational cooperation as we have a lot to learn from each other and this can contribute to a constant flow of innovation and ideas. Education will also continue to play a big role 10 years from now, and it will develop alongside the advancement of technology. I think entrepreneurs will be coming up with things we can’t even begin to imagine!

Alongside this I think there will be a focus on working with clients to give them what they want, for example, working with students to see what it is they want and need for their education. This in turn will hopefully lead to an increase in the number of start-ups, particularly youth ones. Start-up and SME culture will have developed and we will see more support in the form of bodies, panels and organisations designed to foster entrepreneurship.

I want to take this opportunity to say to other young people that you should not be afraid of actually trying, and that if you fail then just try again. Winning this competition has made such a difference and given me such an amazing platform which has led to other opportunities. I would not be able to say I’ve been invited to attend a session of the European Economic and Social Forum in Brussels as the guest of Cypriot delegation if I had not entered this competition, so I wanted to say thank you and encourage everyone to take all the opportunities available to you.

Read Andri’s entry here.

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