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What happens at an EEPA national ceremony? – Let’s look at Germany!

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We have seen the shortlist, and started introducing all the candidates, but what happens before that? What does a national ceremony look like? Today on Promoting Enterprise German National Coordinator Juliane Kummer shares with us what happened at the 2017 German EEPA national ceremony.

The German national awards ceremony 2017 took place on 13 October 2017 in Berlin, as part of the deGUT-fair, one of the most important German entrepreneurship fairs. The ceremony was hosted by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, and was presented during the fair forum. The two winners “BIRTH – Business Innovation Responsibility and Technology @ Hansenberg” and “Import Promotion Desk” were announced to the visiting public and they received congratulations and a winner’s certificate handed out by the Ministry. Following the award presentation, each winner was invited to present their innovative and inspiring initiatives by giving a short interview on the stage. These two winners had been selected by a national expert jury who evaluated a total of 29 entries in May 2017.

“BIRTH – Business Innovation Responsibility and Technology @ Hansenberg” project, takes a different approach to education and aims to educate secondary school students in the areas of business, natural sciences and ultimately entrepreneurship. The project is divided into different phases and includes business competitions, immersive internships abroad, science clubs and business weeks. Through these activities students are pushed to think like entrepreneurs, work in teams, and work in collaboration with local and national stakeholders. As they advance through school activities become more complex and introduce different skills, allowing the students to develop into competent candidates for the modern labour market.

The “Import Promotion Desk” supports German imports, thus opening the door for SMEs from selected developing and emerging countries to access the European market and develop trade capacities. The aim is to maintain the sustained import of particular products from partner countries, whilst maintaining high quality, social and environmental standards. The IPD brings together European importers, who can optimise procurement and increase product diversity, and exporters as trade partners. Consequently partner country export capacities are strengthened through job creation and income increase. IPD is currently active in the following counties: Egypt, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Columbia, Nepal, Peru and Tunisia.

Both projects will be present at the SME Assembly, so if you are interested in finding out more visit their websites and see if you can spot them at the event next month!

 

Where are they now? Business College 20-80 Learning, EEPA 2015 finalist

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What happens to EEPA winners after the ceremony? What do they get up to next? Today Promoting Enterprise is proud to introduce Leny van der Ham, the founder of International Business College 20-80 Learning, a 2015 EEPA finalist. Today she shares with us what her project is about and her exciting updates since being a part of EEPA back in 2015.

20-80 Learning promotes the entrepreneurial spirit of young people, helps them complete their regular education in 80% of the time leaving the other 20% of their time for creative collaboration and personal development. 20-80 Learning focuses on self-development, entre- and intrapreneurship, follow-up study, real life, metacognition and languages. In more than 30 Dutch secondary schools the students complete the standard secondary school course in 4 days a week using 80% of the class time. The remaining 20% is the 20-80 Learning day when students develop metacognition, entrepreneurship and skills for their further education and careers. The 20-80 learning philosophy is now being applied in the fields of business, science, sport and arts, and is receiving widespread positive recognition by the Dutch Ministries of Education, Culture and Science and Economic Affairs.

But what is the goal of 20-80 Learning? Why is it important to reserve 20% of young people’s time for other skills and activities? For founder Lenny van der Ham, the answer is simple and manifold:

To me, every day is so valuable that boredom is unacceptable. An entrepreneur has to be alert to market processes: a teacher is an intrapreneur and must always be aware of his customer and his product, thus there should always be room for innovation in education!”

Through this program she aims to make education not only well-rounded and useful, but to put the fun back into education and provide a space for both students and teachers to experiment and develop. Via this approach the goal is to minimise potential negative effects such as poor performance, negative attitudes to work, negative interaction with teachers, and dropouts from further education.

After such success in the Netherlands, Leny is looking at how to expand her transferable concept on a global scale, and explore the possibilities of setting up accredited campuses across the world.

Interested in the concept? Want to help implement Leny’s global vision and bring this system to teenagers worldwide? Find out more from the website www.20-80learning.nl, and contact nfo@20-80leaening.nl for more information.

Ecoscooter – The brain child of 24 year old entrepreneur Getrin Reesar

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Time to meet the last entrepreneur in our ‘Meet an Estonian entrepreneur’ series! Why Estonian entrepreneurs? 

This year the SME Assembly 2017, the flagship event for European SME Week,  will be held in Tallinn under the Estonian presidency from 22-24 November 2017. In order to get ready for the event, Promoting Enterprise will be exploring Estonia as a digital pioneer as well as meeting the exciting entrepreneurs it has to offer! The last of our entrepreneurs is 24 year old Getrin Reesar who co-founded small family business Ecoscooter.

At the age of 24 Getrin, from Tallinn in Estonia, already holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications, is currently studying graphic design and is an entrepreneur. She is the co-founder of a small family business called Ecoscooter, which has been running for one and a half years, and distributes electric self-balancing vehicles in Estonia. Ecoscooter started small but is now present in Finland, Spain, Latvia and Lithuania.

What motivates you?

Hands-on experience and gaining knowledge is inspiring, and the idea, that one day I (hopefully) do not have to work from 9 to 5 is also very motivating!

The best thing about being an entrepreneur?

Although I am not working for Ecoscooter full-time right now and it is a side-business, I can work for myself. All the effort that I put in for me, meaning I do not mind working the extra hours, dealing with complicated clients and navigating difficult situations. At the end of the day, everything I do is for myself and for my family.

What skills do tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need?

Firstly, languages like Chinese, Arabic and German. Learning a foreign language is a great and necessary investment. Knowing the language of your market is a good way to break down walls and make connections, a having a good network is everything.

Secondly, the idea of starting a side-business can be challenging in many ways, so actually the best advice is having the courage to start. You can always go back to a 9 to 5 job!

From leather design to Quality Assesment – Find out about Stella and Kristel

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We are back with the next two entrepreneurs in our ‘Meet an Estonian entrepreneur’ series! Why Estonian entrepreneurs? This year the SME Assembly 2017, the flagship event for European SME Week,  will be held in Tallinn under the Estonian presidency from 22-24 November 2017. In order to get ready for the event, Promoting Enterprise will be exploring Estonia as a digital pioneer as well as meeting the exciting entrepreneurs it has to offer! Today it is time to meet Stella Soomlais, a sustainable leather accessories designer and studio owner, and Kristel Kruustük, co-founder and CEO of Testlio – an end-to-end Quality Assessment management platform.

Stella Soomlais

Stella Soomlais is a leather accessories designer and studio owner, who designs and creates bags made to last. In 2004 she began making custom orders whilst at Tartu Art School, and set up her own company in 2011. In 2014 she began recruiting employees and now has over 10 people working for her. Her vision, and that of her company, is a sustainable one, and champions the idea of reusing leather after its first life cycle so as to maximise material use.

What motivates you?

I’m motivated by the ability to make things better and to improve situations. It makes me happy when I see that my actions are making a difference.

The best thing about being an entrepreneur?

Freedom – I can pick the projects and people I love to work with and be the boss of my own time.

What skills do tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need?

I would say that tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need to treat others as they would like to be treated. This includes everybody and everything, clients, colleagues and Mother Nature as well. Understanding different characters, the way they work and feel motivated, and the importance of sustainability is the key to success. In addition, good old patience is still necessary – it takes years of 24/7 work to implement your dreams and visions. But it’s worth it!

Find out more about Stella and her sustainable products: www.stellasoomlais.com

Kristel Kruustük

Kristel Kruustük is co-founder and CEO of Testlio – an end-to-end Quality Assessment management platform and community of highly vetted testers that help businesses deliver amazing customer experiences. At the age of 23 she came up with the id ea of building a platform that would appreciate the work of testers and elevate the importance of Quality Assessment within organisations.  Since launching in 2012, the company has raised $8M in funding, hired over 60 employees, and established offices in Tallinn and San Francisco. Clients include Salesforce, Lyft, Microsoft, CBS Interactive, Flipboard and Strava.

What motivates you?

I’m motivated by my vision for Testlio which is to change the way Quality Assessment is done and to help businesses create successful products with a great team, community and customers. Even when things get very challenging and hard, I know that there’s always a solution for every problem.

What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?

Making your vision and dream come true. Testlio began because of my own frustration about how software testers were treated in the industry. Testing was often perceived as an afterthought and testers were often blamed when things didn’t go as expected.

What’s especially rewarding about being an entrepreneur is when things move in the right direction. It is so inspiring when the people around you are happy, excited and motivated to make a difference. I have written more on what I love about entrepreneurship here.

What skills do tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need?

Putting people first and not treating business like a machine. Businesses are all about people (your team, your customers, your community) and in today’s world, ideas don’t matter anymore, what matters is people, making connections and building long term relationships.

Read more of Kristel’s ideas and thoughts on her entrepreneurial journey: https://medium.com/@kristelkruustuk

Who is on the EEPA 2017 Jury? – Meet Karen and Lisa

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Who chooses the projects for the EEPA 2017 shortlist? Curious about who makes the decisions? Time to meet the EEPA Jury 2017! Today Promoting Enterprise is introducing the first two members of the EEPA 2017 Jury: Karen Boers and Lisa Steigertahl, who shared with us what they will be looking for in a project and what they are looking forward to at this year’s SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn.

Karen Boers is co-founder and Managing Director of Startups.be, which brings hundreds of startups together with incubators, accelerators, investors and public actors in a local startup ecosystem. She also runs the European Startup Network, which aims to help create a truly pan-European bottom-up startup ecosystem.

Lisa Steigertahl is co-founder and and CEO of the European Startup Network (alongside fellow jury member Karen Boers). Previously she also worked at the German Startups Association as both Head of Research and International Strategy and European Relations Manager.

What will make an EEPA project stand out for you? What will make it special?

Karen: I am looking out for projects that have made a real impact on entrepreneurs’ lives, either by helping to change the rules of the game in the local ecosystem or by providing entrepreneurs with better access to (national and/or international) customers, financing and talent.

Lisa: For me a project that creates a new solution for a demand that we did not know we had yet, or has found an innovative way of solving a problem will stand out. I am also interested in European applicability and projects that could be transferred to other markets.

Which is your favourite category and why?

Karen: Investing in entrepreneurial skills, as I believe investing in human capital – youngsters as well as adults – is the best way to boost entrepreneurship and counteract poverty and extremism through a more inclusive approach.

Lisa: Supporting the internationalisation of business, since I believe that moving from national borders to international markets will not only tremendously determine the success of a business in times of globalisation but further shape a strong European market

Finally, what are you looking forward to at the SME Assembly 2017?

Karen: To meet all the highly motivated people across Europe that are putting their best efforts to make a difference and create opportunities for others.

Lisa: To meet and engage with the people behind the projects.

Interested in finding out who else is on the Jury with Karen and Lisa? Come back next week to meet another juror!

Estonian entrepreneurs: Meet Kenneth and Sander!

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This week Promoting Enterprise is starting a series of interviews with a group of Estonian entrepreneurs to find out about what they do! From motorised scooters to furniture, these entrepreneurs are diverse, creative and not afraid to think outside of the box. Read on to meet our first two entrepreneurs, Kenneth and Sander and learn about where their entrepreneurial path has led them…

Kenneth Pert

Meet Kenneth – he is 24 and the founder of his brand Kenneth Pert Natural Furniture. Kenneth is a designer and furniture craftsman. At the moment, his company is a ‘one man show’, Kenneth has to fill different roles – from managing the business side to cleaning his workshop. At this point, he has been in the field for 5 interesting and challenging years.

What motivates you?

I am inspired by people who have overcome challenges, their own personal struggles and added some extra value to the world. People play an important part in my life. That is why my closest friends and family are also my biggest driving force. Without them I wouldn’t be who I am and where I am today.

The best thing about being an entrepreneur?

The opportunity to use my time as I wish. I have been able to focus on my own interests and to grow at my own pace. This gives me enough room to devote time to the people I hold most dear. At the same time, it is important to stay disciplined and remember that I have a lot of responsibilities.

What skills do tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need?

The skills of today’s and tomorrow’s entrepreneurs largely overlap, for example, adaptability, consistency, discipline and curiosity. There has been a rising demand for people to have emotional intelligence regardless of their role or position in an organisation. It is quite essential to identify the right people to hire, because without help, it’s almost impossible to create a successful business.

When developing a product or service a lot of research, testing and feedback analysis goes into it. In this phase being good with numbers and having analytical skills is definitely another essential entrepreneurial skill.

Sander Sebastian Agur

Sander Sebastian is the 26 year-old co-founder of Inventory.com, the first online B2B marketplace to offer a comprehensive inventory management service by comparing suppliers and transactions up to the final delivery of products. Sander is also a Senior Vice President of ERPLY Retail Platform, which is a web-based on Enterprise resource planning application with support for accounting, inventory, invoicing, e-commerce, Point Of Sale (POS) and more, offering retailers a complete IT solution that can be adapted to meet unique requirements. The company includes well known clients such as Sony, Walt Disney, Amazon, Elizabeth Arden, Garmin and many others.

At the young age of 22, Sander was chosen as the successor to the head of Estonian Air, the former national airline of Estonia, but decided to work in private enterprise instead.

What motivates you?

Learning new skills and applying them usefully. I’ve definitely failed more than I’ve succeeded. As most long-term goals require skills that we don’t have when we set the goals, this motivates me to grow together with the challenges.

The best thing about being an entrepreneur?

In my sector there are almost no limits to what can be built. Once you realise that everything around you has been created by people that are no smarter than you, it all becomes doable.

What skills do tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need?

I think skills are important, but they can also be acquired on the way. What is more important is your mindset for what’s coming and your openness to learn and make stuff happen. Everything changes so fast so you must be able to work in constant chaos. I think that’s what a startup is, nonstop chaos you need to navigate.

Anything else you want to share?

For Inventory.com, we got a small grant at the beginning of 2017 of 50, 000 EUR from the European Commission to kickstart the development, which we are super grateful for.  Unfortunately we were rejected for the second phase of the  Horizon2020 program, but we are continuing to invest our own resources to help Europe have a multinational sales channel for product exchange and we hope that our  next application in November will be successful!

The project “Inventory.com” increases the visibility and competitiveness of manufacturing SMEs on the EU market by creating conditions for an open and efficient market. Currently manufacturing SMEs lack access to suppliers and clients. They are reliant on a small number of business partners and are invisible to any other potential partners. Many SMEs, due to their niche products, find it hard to expand their client network, find suppliers and create international contacts. Product availability, specifications, price and delivery information is not available to market participants and the required information is not presented, standardised and/or not available in different languages. Therefore, companies cannot compare and decide on the best choice. This is a problem our European customers face daily and we would like to change that.

The 2017 SME Assembly will take place in Tallinn, Estonia from 22 – 24 November 2017.
The conference will be the flagship event of European SME Week.

ECOSTAR – The custom built accelerator and entrepreneurship hub for nature based business

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What kind of support is out there for green and eco-entrepreneurs? How can you sell an idea that is innovative, eventually profitable but also green and sustainable? Entrepreneurs in this field may find it difficult to convince investors or find the right support systems for their offered products and services. This is where the newly launched ECOSTAR accelerator is there to help!

ECOSTAR is the research-enterprise impact hub and accelerator that promotes entrepreneurship and innovation for nature-based businesses. The initiative is promoted by a university-enterprise partnership between European and US-based institutions, and it is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, and other private investors. It’s an Impact Hub that promotes the start-up and acceleration of new business initiatives with a positive impact on environment and society. It’s a Research-Business alliance that links universities and companies, providing networking and market-oriented training. It focuses on business models that make profit by marketing, promoting and enhancing biodiversity, and ecosystem services. The initiative provides business opportunities and real benefits for the environment through the following main actions:

JOIN: Create a wide research-enterprise network at EU level, linking together entrepreneurs, scientific and business mentors, and investors, wanting to create value for nature through new business ideas.

LEARN: Deliver a series of specialised entrepreneurship and innovation trainings targeted to MEEB through multidisciplinary approaches to teaching and learning.

GROW: The ECOSTAR Nature-Accelerator selects and invests in early-stage impactful startups that are developing innovative and sustainable solutions for disrupting the agriculture, forestry and natural resource sectors.

E-learning technology, business model case studies, EU support networks, and free ad hoc MEEB business plan advice, are some of the methods that are delivered through a strong and committed partnership of businesses and universities at country and European level.

To find out more about this exciting initiative and to read some of the success stories from participating eco-ventures, visit their website: www.ecostarhub.com

The future of innovation and enterprise – What can we expect?

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Tue David Bak, director of Innovation and Growth for Region Zealand in Denmark, is back for a final interview with Promoting Enterprise. Today the subject is the future, what does it hold for innovation and enterprise? What can we expect? What are the trends telling us? Read on to find out…

What trends do you see in innovation?

In Denmark specifically, the public sector is embracing innovation, which I see as a positive thing. Overall, user driven innovation is increasing, as consumers and users begin to play larger roles in development, and there is a shift from only research based innovation. The current trend is disruption of society as there is a need for innovation for us to advance.

What measures/steps are you taking to encourage digital innovation in Region Zealand?

In Region Zealand we currently don’t do enough and as such we are not a front runner in the digital space. In Denmark however there have been some steps towards pushing companies to work digitally and make that digital transformation. The Danish Business Authority (which takes care of company registrations and working in the Danish public sector) took the controversial decision to make it mandatory for all companies to digitally invoice if they wanted to work in the public sector. Initially there was a lot of resistance but overall it helped – and is still helping companies – to transition to the digital sphere. As such, Denmark has no physical paper trails for monetary transactions and the public sector is going fully digital. That is truly innovative.

As director for innovation and growth, what do you see as the future of enterprise?

The same situation can be seen across all the EU countries, the public sector is under enormous strain which has and will continue to be a catalyst and driver for innovation. This in turn will result in increased cooperation and further blurring of public and private divisions. This blurring of divisions also relates to how the idea of employment is changing and evolving, which is not to say it is negative, but simply means that new working models are beginning to emerge. I see the future of enterprise as no longer including the ‘employee’ concept, I think this will be phased out. It is not uncommon now and nor will it be in future to have multiple jobs or hybrid employment models, alongside an overall merging of individuals and companies.

What does the future of enterprise look like in Denmark? Do you think it is different to global trends or where the future of enterprise will go globally?

Denmark has always had a strong focus on creating a business environment conducive to startups and entrepreneurs. So far we have been successful, but we also need to change in order to stay competitive and innovative. The new focus now needs to be on helping startups to scale up. So the big question for us now is how do we scale up in Denmark? Perhaps a larger and certainly important question is, how do we scale up in the EU?

Innovation in large companies: CP Kelco, Region Zealand

If you enjoyed this insightful interview with Tue David Bak, be sure to read his other interviews right here on the Promoting Enterprise Portal.

First interview: Innovation – What is it and how can it be fostered?

Second interview: Startup Culture – Tue David Bak shares his insights and predictions

Startup Culture – Tue David Bak shares his insights and predictions

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Promoting Enterprise is proud to welcome back Tue David Bak, director of Innovation and Growth for Region Zealand in Denmark. In his second interview with us, Tue sheds some light on startups, accelerators and incubators in Region Zealand and Denmark, current trends and the regional influences on startup culture.

Do you have many accelerators and incubators in Region Zealand? Are they successful?

In Denmark we have actually worked to avoid having too many regional accelerators and incubators, we prefer to have these bodies on a national level so as to keep them open to all Danish and even global companies. Global companies are not excluded from accessing our incubators and accelerators. As long as they have a Danish license and a physical presence in Denmark they can access all the resources. Through this openness we hope to facilitate a link between the Danish and global markets, thus making Denmark just as attractive as the Silicon Valley and other innovation hubs.

What trends are you seeing on the startup scene?

There is an increasing acknowledgement from startups that they do need help. The old idea of two guys in a garage doing everything on their own and not needing any support is starting to be replaced by the realisation that getting a startup to take off is difficult and that there a multitude of resources to draw from and that they are there for a reason. This links to another trend which is an overall change in mindset regarding partnerships. Similar to the collective realisation that they need help, startup founders are specifically beginning to value the need for partnerships with mentors, larger companies etc.

What trends are you seeing in startup culture? For example, does geography play a role?

Absolutely, just looking at the differences between Northern and Southern Europe is an illustration of the role of geography. I have more experience and expertise in Northern Europe, and overall I have seen that there is a strong entrepreneurial culture in Northern Europe, including acceptance of changes of career as a ‘normal’ part of professional life.

Even within countries geography is a big influence, a startup or company located in a rural area will not behave in the same way as an urban counterpart. Rural startups are more traditional working on the idea of being your own boss and are often less aggressive in their approach to scaling up. They are also more in line with the traditional Danish culture which means not standing out or drawing attention to yourself. In contrast urban areas are experiencing an aggressive growth of entrepreneurs.

Innovation in startups: Synchrotron-based microscopy at laboratory scale (Xnovo)

Tue David Bak will be back next week on Promoting Enterprise for his final interview on the future of innovation and enterprise and what Denmark and the EU need to focus on to stay competitive.

Read his first interview: Innovation – What is it and how can it be fostered?

Coworking spaces – the new workplace norm?

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As the concept of employee and place of work begins to change and become more fluid, there has been a global rise of ‘coworking spaces’, which serve as transient spaces where individuals and companies can work alongside a variety of professionals. Whilst these spaces provide flexible physical locations without traditional constraints, do they actually work? Do they really promote cross-sectorial cooperation and innovation? Are they conducive to entrepreneurship?

Different studies and interviews of those that use coworking spaces and founders of these spaces have revealed key messages that point to what makes these innovative spaces different to traditional office environments. With reported higher levels of satisfaction and productivity, ongoing research has highlighted the following reasons for their attractiveness:

  • People who use coworking spaces see their work as meaningful.
  • They have more job control.
  • They feel part of a community.

In an environment where collaboration and assistance are the norm, work takes on new meaning, stands out and can even be a valuable asset to another space user. The spirit of collaboration can exist in traditional office spaces, yet can also be accompanied by office politics and internal competition. By working with ‘strangers’ from a range of professions, this can help strengthen each individual work identity, add value to each unique contribution and ultimately eliminate the sometimes counterproductive aspect of internal competition.

When it comes to job control there is no denying that the world of work is changing and the once accepted 9-5 schedule with rigid policies, pushy bosses and no room to manoeuvre is being replaced by the need for autonomy and ultimately flexibility for workers. Coworking spaces allow for necessary but minimal routine and structure without traditional constraints. These spaces are normally available at all hours, meaning that working days can vary depending on when long hours and days are needed, to when a few hours are sufficient. This allows for healthy balance between professional responsibilities, family obligations and other social needs, through the flexible schedule a coworking space promotes.

Finally, the sense of community these spaces create is another strong factor in their attractiveness. Autonomy and flexibility are aspects that can be achieved from a home office, yet this can be isolating and result in decreased productivity. In contrast, the coworking spaces offer both interactive and individual work stations, giving users different working style options as well as the chance to socialise and expand their personal and professional networks.

With the ever changing workforce and working styles, . Taking into account the figures, the studies, the interviews and the ongoing research, there are definitely some benefits to coworking spaces, but can these benefits be translated into entrepreneurial success? Entrepreneurs often think outside of the box, so perhaps working spaces that fall outside of the ‘traditional box’ of structured and rigid office spaces are what these pioneering and innovative minds need to build their networks, launch their ideas and ultimately bring innovation into our daily lives.

For more information:

https://hbr.org and www.dynamicbusiness.com.au

Interested in coworking spaces and what it is like to run one? Read through the Promoting Enterprise interview with ‘The Library Group’ CEO and founder Anne-Sofie van den Born Rehfeld on Instagram! Find out about her entrepreneurial journey and what led her to set up and run her network of coworking spaces in Brussels.

Facebook: The Library Brussels           Website: www.thelibrarygroup.be

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