Archive for ‘SME News and updates’
The European Conference for Junior Entrepreneurs (The JADE Spring Conference) takes place on 02‐05 March 2017, in Brussels, and is the main international Junior Enterprise event in Europe, bringing together over 300 Junior Entrepreneurs from over 14 countries in Europe, as well as Brazil, the United States and Tunisia. This year, 2017, marks the 25th anniversary of JADE and the 50th of the Junior Enterprise concept. The conference theme is “Co-create the future. Celebrate the past, act today, shape our tomorrow”, and will focus on the power of youth assuming a leadership role in shaping the society of the future.
Andrey Novakov, youngest Member of the European Parliament, will launch the conference, followed by high level panels and keynote speaker Dr. Georg Tacke, CEO of Simon Kucher & Partners. During the conference, the Junior Entrepreneurs will have the chance to foster their skills development with dedicated workshops delivered by the event’s partners, experienced professionals and chosen multipliers of the JADE network. The Gala Dinner will close the event, during which the best Junior Enterprises in the network will be awarded with JADE Excellence Awards.
The European Confederation of Junior Enterprises – Inspiring the next generation of business leaders
What does it take to be an entrepreneur? At what age and how do entrepreneurs develop? Where can we learn more about the inspirational entrepreneurs of the future? Today Promoting Enterprise has the honour to present the success stories booklet from JADE, the European Confederation of Junior Enterprises, which aims to inspire the next generation of business leaders.
“For JADE, entrepreneurship refers to an individual ability to turn ideas into actions. Entrepreneurial competences must therefore include transversal skills and attitudes, as well as more specialised knowledge and business skills. In a broad sense, entrepreneurship should be considered as a mind-set that supports everyone in daily life at home and in society. In order to inspire entrepreneurship, we have to look closer at role-models, and learn from them. This is what Success Stories is about and this is why we have interviewed 13 former Junior Entrepreneurs about their experience within the Junior Enterprise network and how it helped them to start their own business or develop their entrepreneurial path.
Our mission here at JADE, is to encourage entrepreneurship in Europe by fostering a unique concept: the Junior Enterprise, a non-profit civil social organisation, formed and managed exclusively by undergraduate and postgraduate students of higher education. They provide services for companies, institutions and society, under the guidance of teachers and professionals with the goal of consolidating and enhancing the learning of their members. Junior Enterprises are similar to real companies, with components such as corporate governance (e.g. management council and executive board), and self-regulation.
By integrating a network of 280 Junior Enterprises in 14 European countries and supporting the growth of its 22,000 members, JADE is one of the most powerful European youth organisations that fights skills mismatch and creates great potential for a more entrepreneurial society and active citizenship. Outside Europe, Junior Enterprises are present in around 40 countries, with over 40,000 Junior Entrepreneurs across the world.
Interested in what we do? Dive in, and meet former junior entrepreneurs that turned what they learnt in their Junior Enterprise into a successful career!”
For more information: www.jadenet.org
Now that 2017 is here it is time to start looking ahead to the 2017 edition of EEPA which launches in February! But first let us look back at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) from 2016…
In our next few posts we will be meeting EEPA 2016 winners and getting their take on what makes a winning project and their journey to becoming category and overall winners. This is chance to have a look at what makes a winning project and start getting your entries ready for submission in national competitions. Interested in applying? Don’t know where to start? On the blog we will be sharing key information about the process and giving you an insider’s look at what last year’s winners did to be selected as the most deserving projects in Europe.
Think you are up to the challenge? Well consider applying! Read the 2016 participation criteria here and keep following the blog for new information.
Can’t wait for the testimonials? Have a look at the EEPA 2016 compendium for an overview of all national candidates and their projects! EEPA 2016 winners videos are also available if you want to relive all the excitement from the SME Assembly 2016.
What a great start! The SME Assembly 2016 is now well under way after kicking off yesterday on Wednesday 23 November in Bratislava, Slovakia. The day was full of events including business tours, the SME Week Reception and the Schumpeter Lecture to name a few. Missed out or couldn’t attend all sessions? Don’t worry here is a quick round up of yesterday’s highlights.
It all started bright and early with the first business tour of the day to go and see none other than Slovakia’s flying car! Yes you read that correctly, the entrepreneurs behind this automotive innovation showed delegates the product of their efforts, a flying car that makes use of existing aviation and automobile infrastructure to offer a future with the possibility of real door-to-door travel. The second business tour took delegates to GA drilling. This innovative SME in the drilling sector is working towards revolutionising current drilling technology to allow for cheaper and more efficient drilling, with the idea of providing affordable and sustainable geothermal power to all. Delegates were treated to a very interactive demonstration of the unique plasmabit technology that is currently under development.
There was little time to rest as the next events got underway, with the SME Week Reception starting first in the Old Market Hall where the guests were welcomed by State Secretary of the Slovak Republic Rastislav Chovanec. The reception was full of fun as national winners, exhibitioners and other attendees had the chance to meet, network and socialise. The Committee of the Regions introduced the 2018 EER Awards, and a regional polish project, Selvita (a drug research company) was also given the floor. Along with all these introductions, guests were treated to a taster of what is to come in the following days of the SME Assembly.
To finish off an amazing first day with the presence of Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowská over dinner at the Restauracia Hrad, a small group of delegates was invited to the Schumpeter Lecture. Special guest speaker Philippe Aghion from Harvard University delivered a captivating lecture. Professor Aghion addressed the trials of promoting innovation in Europe and the need for Europe to adapt and reform, saying that ‘If we want to revive the idea of Europe, we have to deliver abroad’, when speaking of Europe’s performance on the global market.
To see photos from the first day, visit our Flickr. It was an eventful day to say the least and with so much going on it was great to see everybody active on Twitter helping to promote #SMEassembly2016! So stay tuned, follow live Twitter updates if you just can’t get enough (@EEPA_EU) and bring on Day 2…
Petar Isirov an entrepreneur who formed part of the creation of Kartner-M, a privately held label printing company. They are based in Skopje in the Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) of Macedonia and were founded in 2014. In this blog post, Petar talks about his motivation for starting a business and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
After talking with friends in the food and beverage industry, we realised that many local companies had problems with the quality of their labels. They couldn’t do marketing campaigns properly, and the quality of the labels made it difficult for them to export their products around the world. We saw an opportunity to bring something new to the printing industry in our country, something that would help many businesses.
We found the money we needed by pooling our resources and getting loans. We used it to buy the necessary machines and organise ourselves to work efficiently. Europe is a great place to be an entrepreneur because the business environment is always developing and improving. There are countless opportunities for entrepreneurs; all you need is the right idea. I believe Europe is very supportive of young entrepreneurs, which helps motivate young people to consider becoming entrepreneurs. However, more EU involvement in countries like FYR of Macedonia would benefit small and medium enterprises to develop their business more efficiently, and expand operations outside of their countries.
Persistence is essential for entrepreneurship because it’s difficult to succeed and even more so when you are a young, aspiring company. For me, a great leader is committed to a cause, outgoing and able to take responsibility and risks. They are able to motivate, have a vision for the company, have objectives and be aware of their surroundings.
For more information: www.kartner-m.mk
Brian D. Jones is the author of the bestseller, “Over 50? Start Your Business! Build Wealth. Control Your Destiny. Leave A Legacy.” In an interview with JumpStart Magazine, he talks about his three foundations for success and sets out five steps for the mature entrepreneur to follow in setting up a business.
What do Estée Lauder, Ferdinand Porsche, and Kawasaki Shozo have in common? They were each over 50 when they started the global business named for them. In fact, founders over 50 are the fastest growing segment of new company founders. And surveys have also shown that companies with founders over 50 enjoy a higher success rate.
A combination of factors, including the Connected Economy and falling business development costs, make it possible for anyone to create their dream business. This opportunity is especially important for those over 50. Increased longevity, retirement worries, and an uncertain future for older workers all combine to spur those over 50 to create their dream business. The question is how to get started.
The three Foundations for Success
Mindset: Business success over 50 requires a new mindset. Most important is that a Success Mindset is a mindset of service.
Health: You must make health a priority to have business success at any age, but especially when over 50.
Habits: New research has debunked the old saying that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. Positive habits can be developed at any age. It just takes hard work and consistency.
The five Steps to Starting Your Business
With mindset, health, and habits in place as a foundation, success in starting a business over 50 can be achieved by taking the following five steps.
It’s no longer either a choice between following your dreams or pursuing other opportunities. Your dreams can be your opportunity. Brainstorm first to cast a wide net of possibilities. Then narrow it down to the best few. Evaluate these to find the business that’s perfect for you.
Step 2: Meet Your Customer
A successful business is a business that best serves its customers. This process starts by identifying your ideal customer. Develop a customer avatar. Understand and articulate everything you can about your potential customer. Then you will be in a perfect position to serve that customer.
Step 3: How You Will Serve
Businesses in the past would create what they considered great products and services, and then hope customers would buy. Today things are different. Listen to customers. Interact with customers. Let them tell you what they want and need. Don’t guess. Give them what they want.
Step 4: Critical Issues to Consider
There are only so many hours in the day. How do you decide where to focus? You must keep your fingers on the pulse of every issue that faces the customer. The lessons learned make this too valuable to outsource. Any issue that doesn’t face the customer is a candidate for outsourcing.
Step 5: Your 90-Day Action Plan
Bring your business to life by creating and implementing your first 90-day action plan. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Your plan needs to include a series of SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timely. Make sure your goals also include building positive habits, especially in the areas of mindset and health.
For more information: http://www.thematurentrepreneur.com
Born in Transylvania, Andra Matresu is a cross-media video and film producer who has studied in some of the best film academies in the world (La Fémis, NFTS London, Ludwigsburg Filmakademie and HFF Potsdam). She was selected for the Atelier Ludwigsburg-Paris training programme for budding European film producers and was awarded an Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs Scholarship at the age of 24. Andra is the founder and creative producer of ‘2030, WHENiGROWUP’ a project that uses audio-visual media to foster children’s personal development and help them get one step closer to achieving their dreams. In this blog post, Andra tells us about her project and how she got to where she is today, and gives some advice to other young entrepreneurs thinking about starting their own businesses.
Originally from Sibiu, Romania, I started out on my entrepreneurial journey with nothing more than a camera, a laptop and a dream. My goal is to help children get one step closer to their dreams, using film-making to support them on their road to fulfilment.
As a kid, I was always coming up with new inventions and creating different things: from clothes, movie scenes and poetry to various events and activities. Later on, as a student I used to work for the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that’s where I realised that Romanian politics was more about preaching, and less about truly taking action. It was then that I figured out I could use audio-visual tools, the power of cinema, to educate and help people take action. I chose to use my talents not to chase after trophies and parties in Cannes, but to try to improve people’s quality of life, through cinema.
This is why I created an interactive participatory film-making platform where children can express and create their dreams and visions about their future through the power of cinema. The first of their kind in Luxembourg and, who knows, maybe the rest of the world, I organise and conduct “eduTational” DIY participatory film-making workshops for children, under the name of ‘2030, WHEN i GROW UP’, which was selected as one of the 10 projects livestreamed at the national stage of the Ideas from Europe Competition 2015, held in Luxembourg. I’ve coined the term “eduTational” because I believe that entertaining, personalised learning and interactive participatory education are values that our future generations will evolve on.
Using a camera, paper, toys, household objects, pens, mom’s make-up, dad’s necktie and whatever they can lay their hands on, children learn how to reach their dreams through the art of narrative film-making. Using these materials, they create a small web series in which they offer their creative solutions to everyday adult life… All of this in the hope that, once they are grown-ups, let’s say in 2030, they can refer to these stories and find guidance from their inner child.
Why do I do what I do? Because I strongly believe that we all – parents or not – have a moral responsibility to establish creative foundations for future generations to evolve on. Children, in particular, need support in expressing themselves and becoming the best versions of themselves that they can be. They owe it to themselves to live the life they have dreamed of. Not the life that their parents predicted for them. Not the life that the media tries to sell them. Not the life that society forces them into. But the dream life they once expressed as children. And that’s why ‘2030, WHEN i GROW UP’ is there to provide long-term support to these kids in creating and pursuing their own journey. The children who participate in ‘2030, WHEN i GROW UP’ are already playing a vital role in creating their own futures.
The best part of my journey as a founder and producer of ‘2030, WHEN i GROW UP’, is that I engage in these activities more as a child than as an entrepreneur. I’m the children’s voice. Unfortunately, there are children around the world who have no voice. So how can we expect them to turn into well-rounded adults if they don’t even have healthy creative foundations to express and start their hero’s journey? That’s where ‘2030, WHEN i GROW UP’ can make a difference and change lives.
I am not enamoured by the idea of entrepreneurship. My purpose is not to be an entrepreneur, but to live my dream through entrepreneurship, while using cinema for educational and personal development purposes. What I like about being an entrepreneur is that I feel the excitement, the adrenaline and the fulfilment every time the stories I produce inspire somebody. As a film producer, I measure the quality of my work by the response of my audience. This is my greatest reward: to use storytelling clips and videos in order to inspire viewers on the Internet and beyond to become the best versions of themselves that they can be.
You get to experience the joy and pride of a great success achieved through hard work and discipline. And you can only work hard if you believe in your business and love what you do. Otherwise, I could not do it. What I like and dislike about being an entrepreneur is that I can work constantly without a break. I let everything in my life slide in order to work on my business all day, every day and, if possible, even late at night. I really enjoy all aspects of ‘2030, WHEN i GROW UP’ and when I immerse myself in the business, I tend to completely neglect my life outside, because I love what I do. So, if you’re planning to be an entrepreneur you need to have the sense to ease up and balance out your life: love life, money, health, activities, family, friends, and sport. Otherwise you’ll lose control over your life.
My top advice for all young entrepreneurs out there is to fall in love with the process and look at working hard as part of a “luxury lifestyle” instead of as something you have to force yourself to do. Think about why you are doing what you do: is it because of the process or because of the result? Enjoy the process. Don’t fantasise too much about the result, otherwise you might end up on the wrong path.
Learn to accept rejection, to target the right clients and look at your pitfalls and hardships as a privilege and not as a chore. And, if you want to grow, keep your eyes and ears open and never stop learning. If you are truly willing to battle through the hardships and if you enjoy this thrill, then you have the right stuff to be an entrepreneur.
Andra Maria MATRESU
Film Producer and Online Video Marketer
Founder and producer of ‘2030, WHEN i GROW UP’
Germany’s main SME conference ahead of this year’s European SME Week focused on the lively social enterprise scene that has developed in the country. According to the keynote speaker Kristin Schreiber, from the European Commission’s Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, one in four new companies set up across the EU is a social enterprise.
The German national event, which took place on 28 June, brought together almost 130 experts from networks, funding bodies, science and academia as well as entrepreneurs. In line with the motto of this year’s conference – ‘Addressing social challenges. Undertaking dedicated action. Embracing responsible entrepreneurship’, the discussion focused on what social enterprises need in order to flourish.
The main idea behind this conference was to make social enterprises more widely known and to promote their interests and needs among established players, such as chambers of commerce, consultancy firms and funding bodies. A particular highlight of the conference was the four presentations given by social entrepreneurs to showcase their innovative business ideas:
< Andrea-Victoria Noelle is co-founder of Beliya GmbH, a designer label for bags and accessories that works for a good cause: for every bag sold, a child in Africa is sponsored for one school year.
Ralf Sange > from Gründer 50plus UG supports people over the age of 50 who are considering setting up their own business.
< Anne Kjær Riechert founded the ReDI School of Digital Integration gGmbH where refugees – mostly from Syria – become students, learning computer programming and coding so that they can find a job in Germany.
Martin Reh > co-founded the RSO Shift GmbH, a company that constructs a medical device for developing regions that cleans, disinfects and sterilises operating equipment using nothing but solar power.
The discussion also focused on the results of a study on social entrepreneurship published by the German Economic Affairs Ministry.
A video of the conference highlights, with subtitles in English, is available here below.
The blog post on 30 May, talked about creativity being at the heart of scaling up, but creativity is also at the heart of developing and building any business, as Dr Leonie Baldacchino, Director of the Edward de Bono Institute for the Design and Development of Thinking at the University of Malta, explains in this interview.
At the SME Assembly in Luxembourg last November you explained how everyone can be more creative. Could you give a brief overview of how this can be achieved?
I view creativity as a skill. Since a skill is an ability that is learned through practice, I believe that everyone can be more creative by engaging in regular creative thinking exercises.
Let’s take swimming as an analogy. Human beings are born with the potential to learn how to swim but, in order to become competent swimmers, they must first acquire basic swimming skills, followed by many hours of training in the pool to enhance their technique, strength and endurance. Similarly, human beings are born with the potential to be creative, but attaining this potential requires skill acquisition followed by regular practice to internalise creative thinking skills and develop expertise.
One of the simplest exercises that one can carry out to enhance creativity is the application of divergent thinking to everyday objects. Divergent thinking refers to the generation of multiple responses or solutions to a particular stimulus or problem. This is regarded as a key skill in creativity as it enables individuals to generate many different ideas. Getting into the habit of generating alternatives by, for example, thinking of many different (and unusual) uses for common items like a sock, a wheel or a piece of paper, enhances one of the most basic skills in creativity.
Many tools and techniques are available to help us be more creative. Some may seem awkward or difficult to the uninitiated but, just like swimming becomes effortless to the swimmer who glides through the water after mastering the relevant techniques, creativity becomes second nature to individuals who make use of creative thinking tools on a regular basis.
A great deal has been written about innovation and its importance for entrepreneurs. How does this differ from creativity and how do you see the role of creativity in business?
I view creativity and innovation as overlapping constructs at two ends of the creative process. Creativity is the first stage in the creative process and occurs when an individual has an idea that is both new and useful. Innovation is the last stage of the process and refers to the implementation of a creative idea in order to derive value. Innovations can take various forms, including products, services, processes and technologies. The defining feature is that they must be different from and better than what is already available in a particular context. Therefore, before ideas are implemented, they are generally screened to determine their novelty, added-value, feasibility and compatibility with business objectives to ensure their appropriateness for particular settings.
It has become widely accepted that creativity and innovation are crucial for business success, especially in the ever-changing and uncertain world which we live in today. Creative thinking is required to regularly come up with new ideas to solve problems that may arise, and to address the challenges brought about by changing customer requirements, market structures, or competitive fields. However, the reactive function of creativity in the face of change is only one half of the picture. Creativity is also concerned with instigating change on the basis of a new idea or concept, not because there is a problem to solve, but because an opportunity for improvement has been recognised. Entrepreneurs who run high-growth businesses do not simply adapt to changes in their environment, but are actively involved in disrupting and creating new markets, i.e., they are trendsetters, not followers. This proactive side of creativity is especially important in today’s highly competitive business world in which players are constantly striving for that added advantage, thus rendering the mere maintenance of one’s current position insufficient.
Some businesses outsource their R & D and their product development but it seems likely you would not suggest this solution, but would, rather, encourage the business to build their capacity for creativity. Can you offer some guidance on increasing creative capacity across a business as a whole?
There are many ways in which entrepreneurs and managers can increase the creative capacity of their businesses. First, they must realise that they have a very important role to play in providing top-down support for creativity and innovation as their beliefs, attitudes and behaviours invariably lay the foundations on which their organisation’s practices and policies are built. Second, they should appreciate that, if given the opportunity, each and every member of an organisation has the potential to contribute to the creative capacity of a business, as they often have ideas that could lead to an improvement in some aspect of the organisation.
Business leaders must therefore walk the walk by creating a climate that is characterised by a high level of trust and open communication across all levels to foster creativity and innovation. Furthermore they should actively encourage idea generation, risk-taking and experimentation, and they should treat failures that are made in the pursuit of innovation as learning opportunities. Furthermore, a system must be in place to facilitate the generation, communication, evaluation and implementation of employee ideas. Such systems, which are generally referred to as idea management or innovation management systems, are a set of procedures that dictate what should happen when employees have ideas that they would like to propose to their organisation. Many people believe that structures and procedures are detrimental to creativity and innovation, but without such a system, ideas are likely to fizzle out and die before they can ever be implemented.
You’ve already described the creativity process and how to build and develop creativity as a skill set, could you now give a brief outline of the academic programmes in this field that you run at the University of Malta.
The Edward de Bono Institute for the Design and Development of Thinking at the University of Malta offers a Master in Creativity and Innovation, a part-time evening Diploma in Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, as well as a PhD programme in these subject areas.
The Master in Creativity and Innovation is an interdisciplinary programme designed to assist participants to expand their perception, employ creative skills, develop ideas individually and within teams, sustain a creative climate and manage innovation. This programme attracts professionals from a broad base of disciplines from the local and international scene.
The Diploma in Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship is aimed at individuals who would like to further their education and improve their career prospects but are not in a position to attend full-time day courses due to other commitments. Students shall develop knowledge, transferable skills and attitudes concerning creativity and idea generation, innovation (including innovation management), and entrepreneurship.
The PhD programme is aimed at individuals who would like to undertake research at a Doctoral level in one of the Institute’s subject areas, namely creativity, innovation (including innovation management), entrepreneurship, or foresight (futures studies).
For further information:
- Visit the Edward de Bono Institute’s website: www.um.edu.mt/create
- Follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IoTM.uom
- Email us on: firstname.lastname@example.org
MBA students in Amsterdam and Brussels were asked for their views on the disadvantages faced by various groups of entrepreneurs: women entrepreneurs, disabled entrepreneurs, migrant entrepreneurs and others, with some surprising feedback.
On women entrepreneurs
Suzanne from Slovenia is a fashion major. “According to Eurostat, women account for around 60 % of MBA students and it’s even higher in my country, so right now the majority of young people entering business are women. Our real challenge is still the traditional bias against women in business but we have the same access to resources so I don’t see the problem.”
Houng, from Vietnam and planning on a business career in luxury goods, added, “Women are generally better educated than our male contemporaries, we have better interpersonal skills and have a lower feeling of entitlement. Perhaps it is males who are now ‘disadvantaged’.”
Hans from the Netherlands reluctantly agreed. “My experience is that women are generally better placed in terms of raising finance as there are so many lenders who only lend to women. And women are now entering every field, even those traditional male-orientated ones like construction. They’re competing on a level playing field.”
On being a foreigner
Marko from Estonia is planning on starting a business in the Netherlands. “The biggest challenge of all is the language. If you can’t read, write and speak the language then it is really difficult to cope with the official rules and regulations. In my own country this wouldn’t be a problem, but here I have to rely on my partner and her father.”
Arati from India finds the challenge is cultural. “Being a woman is not the issue but being Indian presents problems. With people my age they don’t care that I’m brown and culturally exotic, but when I have to talk to the government agencies I feel very excluded.”
Omar, who was born in Belgium of Moroccan parents, agreed. “There are still a lot of cultural and even racial issues with the older people. I come from Brussels and there is a large Moroccan community to support me but getting to see Belgium customers can be a real challenge, especially after the terrorist attacks.”
Adan, a Syrian who has been granted asylum in Belgium and is working his way through college, had a slightly different story. “I’m a refugee and there is very little support from the state, and the job I’ve got is the type the locals wouldn’t do but it means I have a competitive advantage. I don’t think I’ll be able to start a business here until I can speak French fluently but even then the locals don’t trust us and I get hassled all the time because I’m Syrian.”
On being disabled
Manon from Belgium uses a wheelchair after a car accident five years ago. “Wheelchair access is the biggest barrier to a business career. This is the first business school where I’ve had easy access and that means I can get the sort of education that I need to be successful. All new buildings have such access of course but I still can’t get into some offices. I don’t need special conditions except I do need things to be at my height.”
All the students had a common theme: being an entrepreneur is about doing what you can with what you have rather than expecting special treatment. The challenges and barriers they discussed were all surmountable and most were based on interpersonal behaviour rather than real difficulties. Of course, there are many other people who would disagree with them, and some interesting perspectives can be found at the following links.
Photo credit: ©iStock/julie514