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How to win EEPA? Past winners reveal their recipe for a winning formula

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What is the recipe for success? What is the secret? How can you make sure your project is one of the next European Enterprise Promotion Award (EEPA) winners? EEPA is an opportunity for public bodies and public-private partnerships from across the EU Member States, (as well as Iceland, Serbia and Turkey) to put forward their most imaginative and successful initiatives that support entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Each country selects their top national winners to compete at European level across five different categories.

Today Promoting Enterprise brings you advice from the best of the best, past EEPA winners. Ready to discover the answers? Read on…

Why should you enter EEPA?

Many of the past winners have mentioned that one of the key benefits of entering EEPA is that it provides “a valuable opportunity to step back and reflect”, as “you can’t always focus on what you did well yesterday…the analysis is important and it gives you a chance to make your learning journey visible so that others can learn from it.”

Not only does it allow for reflection but it provides an opportunity to meet with other pioneering initiatives from across Europe, as “participating in a competition is a real opportunity to meet and share with initiatives and people…learning from their experiences is very enriching”. Some winners also mentioned the increased internal learning and contact saying that “entering EEPA gives a unique opportunity to exchange experiences and contacts with colleagues, experts and other stakeholders, drawing focus to the relevant questions and impact SME development”.

All the winners agreed that winning, in the words of one winner “the most rigorous and professionally run enterprise award in the world”, was quite an experience. Ultimately this award “provides recognition from a higher recognised entity like the European Commission”, which for many has led to exciting national and international developments for their projects.

Finally very importantly “you should enter because it is fun! The whole process requires a lot of work and you need to invest the necessary time, but once that part is done you can really enjoy the experience of being in the competition.”

What should you bear in mind when you apply?

So how did this variety of winners come out on top in each of their respective categories? Each winner has their own story to tell which you can read here, but read some of the tips they wanted to share with the potential winners of the future:

  • “Apply and share as much as possible!”
  • “It is important to evaluate whether a project has the following: quality, results, strong partnership, and replicability. Our advice would be that if your project has all of the above, then you should definitely compete!”
  • “Focus your attention on strategy and results achieved.”
  • “A good idea, a quality product, enthusiasm, detailed planning, active stakeholder involvement and teamwork were the key to our success. Our recommendation to future competitors would be to make sure to find their own distinctive formula.”
  • “Develop a pitch and make it interesting and inspirational for others. Inspiration is a very important part of EEPA work, it is what makes a project stand out.”
  • “You should not be scared to point out things that you learnt from and definitely take help from others, don’t do it all on your own.”

Interested in finding out more about EEPA? Are you going to apply and compete for a European title? Be sure to contact your national coordinator for more information and check when your national deadline is. Hurry up because the deadlines are approaching!

Have a look here to read about the SME Assembly 2017 during which the EEPA finals and awards ceremony will be held.

Winners of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2016 prove diversity of entrepreneurial spirit in Europe

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30415999933_56c9c9d966_zCongratulations! The seven winners of the 10th edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) were announced by Peter Varinský with the Grand Jury Prize being awarded to a Swedish city project.

The six projects that each won their category came from France, UK, Portugal, Finland, Serbia, and The Netherlands. The categories covered the broad areas of entrepreneurship, enterprise start-up and growth, international market opportunities, and green markets. Three projects from Latvia, Ireland and Greece received Special Mentions from the EEPA jury, which comprised seven representatives from government, business and academia from the EU.

The top prize was awarded to the district of West Hisingen in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden. The  project supports the city district’s reputation as a hub of opportunities and entrepreneurship. It is divided into three parts: Entrepreneurship in education; Start your business, a course for newly arrived refugees with a business background in their home country; and Develop your business, a comprehensive business training programme.

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To see photos from the yesterday´s joyous ceremony, visit our Flickr. We will present all projects fully in coming weeks, but if you can´t wait, you can have a look at the EEPA 2016 Compendium.

Speaking of the awards, Ms Kristin Schreiber, chair of the EEPA jury and Director for COSME programme at Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, European Commission, said: “The 57 projects selected to compete at European level, not just the winners, runners-up and special mentions, are a testimony to the passion and innovation that puts ideas into practice. These are examples that can inspire the creation of an ecosystem that helps entrepreneurial spirits, nurtures enterprises and helps them grow. All these projects have tangible results: they help to create new companies and new jobs. I hope they will be an inspiration to authorities, organisations and individuals across Europe to do more for entrepreneurs and small businesses.”

Next year’s awards ceremony will take place during the 2017 SME Assembly in Tallinn, under the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

And by the way – the cake for the 10th EEPA´s birthday was delicious! 🙂

Youth Essay Competition – Final results

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Youth-banner--blog-600x150The results of the European SME Week Youth Essay Competition are in!

After careful deliberation by the judges, lengthy discussions have been had and the decision has been made.

This competition was created because we wanted to know what the young people of Europe think about entrepreneurship and the opportunities available to them in their country, and the wider European Union. The responses came from across Europe and not only did they give insight into the original question, but also what is on the minds of young people in Europe today.

Life is changing fast, and they are aware that in order to keep up they too will have to change. As one participant put it: “The ‘good old days’ mentality of getting an education and landing a steady job at a big company is over”, this reflects their view of education, that it is not designed to help meet the challenges of the present but is rather based on successful models of the past. This ties into their feelings on how they are perceived, with one essayist writing: “Even if we are young it does not mean we are stupid. It does not mean we are immature. We have a lot to offer if only you give us the chance”. They are realistic, demonstrating an understanding of the media and the tendency to feature the unicorns and multi million euro successes. One contestant wrote that “there is no need for a gigantic one-billion-dollar idea or a perfect professional business plan in order to successfully start up a business”; in other words , investment is not the only measure of success.

The variety of nationalities represented by the candidates was an early indicator of the importance placed on multilingualism and openness, a common theme throughout the essays, the authors of which recognised the importance of English for business alongside other languages on their path to success. In terms of the barriers faced, ‘red tape’ and bureaucracy are things they are aware of and frustrated by. These need to be addressed urgently. Coupled with these is the fear of failing, with one writing “we are full of energy and ideas but often lack the experience, skills and expertise to implement our plans successfully”. They need reassurance that failure is not the end of the world and that it can often signal the starting point for greater success.

It is now time for us to reveal the winner:

Congratulations to Andri Pandoura!

andri

Andri is a member of the Cyprus Children’s Parliament and has already developed an interest in human rights and advocating, which she plans to pursue in future by studying law and embarking on a career in human rights law.

The very close runners up are:

yec-runners

  • Katie Williams, a multilingual young worker from the UK currently working in the field of International Trade.
  • Francesco Foglia, an Italian journalist in European Affairs currently studying a Masters in Business Administration.
  • Frici Barabas, a Romanian entrepreneur with an online business who also teaches others how to succeed in the professional online world.

Congratulations to all our finalists and be sure to stay tuned to find out more about them in forthcoming posts! We would also like to congratulate all those who submitted an essay as the standard was very high and the final results very close.

EEPA – Investing in entrepreneurial skills

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Each week, one of six European Enterprise Promotion Award (EEPA) categories is presented on the Promoting Enterprise blog. The EEPA awards reward annually, those who promote entrepreneurship and small business at the national, regional and local level.

You can have a look at last week’s featured projects shortlisted for EEPA Category 1: Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit. This week, it is the turn of the shortlisted projects in Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills. Three projects, from Italy, Latvia and the UK, support the inclusion of the unemployed and young jobseekers into the workforce through skills development and mentorship. Two of the shortlisted projects have a focus on the crafts industry, while the third includes the creative arts as an area targeted for support.

blog-imagesThe Bottega Scuola project in Italy supports the young unemployed by encouraging craft skills and business development ideas in artistic and traditional industries through six months’ work experience. The project acts as an artisan teaching workshop intended to increase job opportunities and stimulate new local entrepreneurial initiatives. Watch their video!

The project for the Development of innovative entrepreneurship in Jelgava City and Zemgale Region in Latvia is a platform through which the local government supports innovative entrepreneurship and facilitates networking, local good practice and mentor support. One example is the successful Competence and Contact Exchange initiative for the cottage arts and crafts industry, which develops entrepreneurial skills and creates innovative new products. So far, 10 000 people have taken part in various activities for developing innovative entrepreneurship and on average 63 new entrepreneurs sign up every year! Watch their video!

students-uni-liverpoolThe Enterprise Educators Academe in the UK has created the world’s first internal, accredited, enterprise educator training programme. The training and support of over 600 staff of all disciplines to embed enterprise skills across the university curriculum has been at the heart of the programme. In the first two years alone 21 000 students were reached and over 2 000 freelance businesses created. Business and public sector projects projects benefited from student support resulting in an economic impact valued at over EUR 4.4 million (GBP £4 million). Check out their YouTube channel!

By investing in entrepreneurial skills, these projects continue to support ongoing regional initiatives to integrate young people and the unemployed in the workforce. All 6 EEPA category winners will be revealed at the EEPA Awards Ceremony during the SME Assembly on 24 November in Bratislava, Slovakia, when the Grand Jury prize-winner will also be announced.

EEPA 2016 shortlist announced!

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In total, 343 National EEPA entries were received from 31 participating countries in 2016, which were then narrowed down by the national EEPA coordinators to 57 projects put forward for the European level of the competition.

At a meeting in Brussels on 27 September, the EEPA Jury drew up a project shortlist for each of the EEPA’s six project categories.  Let´s meet 18 shortlisted winners for EEPA 2016!

eepa-2016-shortlist
The winners are spread pretty evenly across Europe, with only Serbia featuring on the list more than once, with winning projects in the Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit and Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency categories. We will present all of the shortlisted projects, category by category, on the Promoting Enterprise blog over the next six weeks.

The winner in each category will be revealed at the EEPA Awards Ceremony during the SME Assembly on 24 November in Bratislava, Slovakia, when the Grand Jury prize-winner will also be announced. All of the national winners will have their costs covered to send one representative to attend the SME Assembly, while shortlisted projects will be able to send two representatives.

Congratulations to all of the shortlisted projects – they are all worthy winners, and the EEPA Jury will have a difficult task in selecting the winning projects in each category. We wish them all the best of luck at the SME Assembly in November.

 

Birmingham crowned this year’s ‘most enterprising place in Britain’

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Birmingham has been named the ‘most enterprising place in Britain’ by the 2016 Enterprising Britain Awards.

Birmingham has been named the ‘most enterprising place in Britain’ by the 2016 Enterprising Britain Awards, Small Business Minister Margot James announced today (24 September 2016).

The winning project saw Birmingham City Council team up with 6 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to improve confidence, encourage investment, and attract and retain business talent. It supported 1,000 businesses, generating £87 million in private sector investment and creating or safeguarding 4,300 jobs, as part of the ambitious plans to build a Midlands Engine for Growth.

Companies to benefit from the project include Westfield Sports Cars which accelerated production of a new prototype vehicle and Induction Technology Group which invested in new manufacturing equipment, leading to an increase in global sales.

Small Business Minister Margot James said:

“We have 900,000 more small businesses than in 2010 and they have an important role to play in building an economy that works for all. It’s great to see the support available for business owners making a real difference and driving entrepreneurial spirit across the UK.”

“These awards recognise the value of local support and show what can be achieved when people who know their community best make their own decisions. Congratulations to all 4 winners.”

Run by Investment in Young People (IiYP), on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Enterprising Britain awards celebrate local initiatives which boost business and growth.

Liverpool John Moores University, the Borough of Broxbourne Council and Kent International Business also won awards for building enterprise skills, promoting entrepreneurial spirit and supporting exports, respectively.

Birmingham City Council and Liverpool John Moores University will now go forward as the UK entries to the European Enterprise Promotion Awards.

Initiatives in Buckinghamshire, Peterborough, Warwickshire, Belfast and Glamorgan also received recognition from the judges.

Neville Reyner CBE DL Hon.DLittNeville Reyner CBE DL Hon DLitt, Chairman Investment in Young People (IiYP) said:

“Competing against strong entries from across the UK, this year’s Enterprising Britain Award winners are great local initiatives which are really helping entrepreneurs build businesses to drive local economies, create jobs and encourage enterprise. We wish Birmingham City Council and Liverpool John Moores University the best of luck in the European Enterprise Promotion Awards.”

Creating the right environment for new business to flourish across the country will play a vital role in the government’s industrial strategy, as Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark recently underlined with the appointment of ministerial local growth champions in every area.

Q&A with Kenny Ewan

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In this week’s column from June’s Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR), we go head-to-head with Kenny Ewan of WeFarm to find out why he decided to step out on his own, whether he had that ‘lightbulb moment’ and how he secured the funding to finance his start up.

Why did you set up your company?

I spent many years working with isolated, indigenous communities in Peru and saw first-hand the grassroots innovation and ideas they were creating to solve challenges. However, I also saw that there was a huge discrepancy in the way this knowledge was shared, and information in general was accessed, in the developing world compared to the massive trend towards decentralization of knowledge and peer to peer sharing in the Western world driven by the internet. In 2009 I was offered the chance to be part of the Cafedirect Producers’ Foundation (CPF – A UK registered charity working with small-scale farmers around the world) start-up team with Claire Rhodes. We put our ideas and experiences together to design the first version of what would become WeFarm.

When did you set up your business, and how long did it take?

we farm 2WeFarm launched as a social enterprise in January 2015, and we launched the product one month later in Kenya.  We had previously been piloting and developing WeFarm as a CPF project for several years before taking the step to launch and scale as a social business – we felt this was a much more scalable and sustainable model.

We developed the product with farming communities in Peru, Kenya and Tanzania which I think was unbelievably beneficial – it meant that we developed something that people on the ground find useful and actually want to use!

Did you have a ‘lightbulb moment’ that led to you starting your business, or which triggered a change in the way you did things?

I think the path to WeFarm being launched was more of a gradual coming together of ideas, experiences and pilots than a single lightbulb moment. However, there have a few special moments along the way. I would pick out the first international test we did with farmers in Peru and Kenya as a great WeFarm moment… I was with a group of rural farmers in Peru as the first messages came in from Kenya, and it was amazing to see people’s reaction to receiving key information from the other side of the world, all in their own language and without internet. That was the moment I knew we had something of huge potential on our hands.

Where did you source funding to set up your business?

WeFarm initially was developed and tested under the UK charity Cafedirect Producers’ Foundation (CPF) and received grant funding from Nominet Trust and Knight Foundation. Then, in 2014 we won the Google Impact Challenge Award. The prize money enabled us to put our plans to launch WeFarm at scale as a social enterprise into action.

In 2015 we were part of the Wayra accelerator programme in London, which included investment into WeFarm.

Were there any EU, national, regional or local business support services, programmes or funding initiatives that helped you set up or grow?

The Wayra accelerator programme was very valuable in getting business support, coaching, mentoring, and certainly  a lot of practice in how to pitch! We have also been part of the Ideas From Europe initiative run by the European Commission over the last few months. This has helped us gain a bit of exposure on the European stage, and culminated in a talk at TEDxBinnenhof, which was very exciting.

With hindsight, which would have been the single most valuable skill to have before setting up your business?

I’d say pitching and public speaking. It’s not necessarily fair that startup businesses are judged on a two or three minute ‘pitch’, but that is the reality. There is no doubt that the startups who can tell a great story and capture people’s imagination in a pitch find themselves with lots more opportunities across PR, funding and entry into different events.

Ultimately you obviously need to have substance behind it to succeed, but I’d certainly advise startup founders to practice, practice and practice their pitch. Or be brave enough to know it’s not your thing, and find a partner who can.

About Kenny

Kenny-Ewan 2Kenny is CEO of WeFarm, a pioneering social enterprise, scaling a unique peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing platform for the 450 million small-scale farmers around the world with no access to the internet. After graduating from the University of Dundee, Kenny went to Peru in 2002 to work on sustainable development projects with indigenous communities. He loved the country so much that he decided to stay. In 2007, he became Peru’s Country Director for ProWorld Service Corps. This international development NGO specialises in projects for isolated, indigenous communities. He returned to the UK in 2009 to join the Cafedirect Producers Foundation (CPF) start-up team. He designed and managed all of CPF’s international projects across East Africa and Latin America.

Overcoming young people’s barriers to entrepreneurship

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Young entrepreneurs, especially those who choose not to enter tertiary education, face real barriers when entering business. Fortunately, there are organisations that can help.

I am your boss

With the limited curriculum that time imposes on most educational systems, those who leave school at 16 and who don’t go on to tertiary education end up entering a world in which they lack business knowledge and experience. They frequently lack saleable skills, and usually have no access to start-up finance. These are very genuine barriers to entering the business world and make this category of young entrepreneur genuinely disadvantaged.

Unfortunately, they seldom attract any attention but they have plenty of potential to be successful business operators, often as self-employed business people or maybe working with a small team. But to become successful they need to obtain the necessary knowledge and skills, find experienced mentors and gain access to finance. In the United Kingdom, the organisation par excellence for helping young (and therefore disadvantaged) entrepreneurs is The Prince’s Trust, set up in 1976 by HRH The Prince of Wales when he left the Royal Navy. Now, some 40 years later and having helped over 825 000 young people in the UK, he recalled that decision saying, “What struck me was that young people weren’t being given the opportunities quickly enough. No one was putting the trust in them that they needed.” In a video on the Trust’s website, he explains his rationale in greater depth. In 2014, The Prince’s Trust International was set up to expand the Trust’s activities overseas.

entrepreneur-696968_1280The Prince is an indefatigable supporter of youth enterprise. “I have always been of the opinion that young people have the skills and energy to make a real difference to our world, and we must do all that we can to harness their talents.” In addition to The Prince’s Trust, he has set up Youth Business International. In each case, the organisation can help young people find and attend the right training courses, obtain the right skills and access the necessary funds.

Similar support can be obtained from the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme, which is financed through the EU and operates through local contact points in Member States. So, even though youthful entrepreneurs face many disadvantages, this shouldn’t stop them from developing a business.

More information and a lot of useful ideas can be found at the following organisations:

The Prince’s Trust

The Princes Trust International

Youth Business International

Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs

Supporting entrepreneurs and the self-employed – blog

If you’re aged between 16 – 25 years old, enter our European SME Week Youth Essay Competition. Learn how >>

SME Week Newsletter: Issue #2

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Entrepreneurs, national EEPA winners, competitions, and more about business in the EU

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This month is a busy one as we continue to gear up for SME Week this November. June sees the closure of all national European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) competitions in time for the European closing date of 1 July. Find out if you still have a chance to enter and win one of the prestigious European awards by searching the deadlines in the article below. Also, meet Kenny, our new Entrepreneur in Residence, and enter or promote our youth essay competition. Read more >>

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A social entrepreneur’s guide to raising investment

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Each month on the Promoting Enterprise blog, an Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR), give us an insight into his/her entrepreneurial journey. June’s entrepreneur is Kenny Ewan (UK). Watch his TEDx talk here and discover how his social enterprise helps others:

kenny ewan

Do you want to make the world a better place? I do – and that’s why I helped set up a social enterprise called WeFarm. At WeFarm we empower farmers in the developing world (of which there are more than 500 million!) to both access and share vital agricultural information without needing any access to the Internet. We use SMS in a unique way that allows isolated communities to learn from each other peer-to-peer.

WeFarm farmer

After an incredible first year of growth and success, with more than 58,000 farmers using our service already, my first few months of the this year have been spent trying to secure the investment needed to take us to the next stage.

During any funding round you have the opportunity to meet a wide range of investors – from angels to large VC firms, with investors from lots of different countries. This is particularly true for social enterprises like WeFarm, and I set out to pitch our business to both social impact investors and more traditional VCs.

Creating a compelling story that appeals to both social investors and more traditional VCs can be challenging for social businesses, but we were determined to convince people that our social impact is truly embedded within a great business model, and we were confident we can convince both sides of the investment world.

It’s been fascinating to see the differences in styles and interests between them. When I started, I assumed that we would have more opportunities with the social impact investors (for fairly obvious reasons). However, it’s been great to find that the opposite has been true and we’ve had a lot more advanced conversations with the more traditional VCs.

I think this shows something really exciting is happening: businesses with a strong social mission can interest traditional investors if the business case is right. More and more people are looking for business with a social purpose to invest in, and recognise that the returns can be even higher than average businesses.

However, being honest, the process has also highlighted for me some challenges with social impact investment, especially for more innovative businesses looking at very large scale projects. A lot of the conversations I’ve had with social impact investors have been guided by their need to put things in social impact boxes – to look at measurement and impact chains rather than big ideas.

Having spent my entire career (until now) in the international development field, I wholeheartedly agree with the importance of impact measurement and evaluation. But should this be the starting point ahead of new ideas and innovation that can’t easily be measured and put in boxes at an early stage? Ideally, of course, you need both, and I hope that slowly these two investment universes are starting to come closer together.

My advice to social entrepreneurs would be to urge you to not limit yourself in your view of what your social business is. Reach out to all the investors you can, make sure you have a compelling business model, and think big. Even as a social business, traditional investors might be best for you.

About Kenny

Kenny-Ewan 2Kenny is CEO of WeFarm, a pioneering social enterprise, scaling a unique peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing platform for the 450 million small-scale farmers around the world with no access to the internet. After graduating from the University of Dundee, Kenny went to Peru in 2002 to work on sustainable development projects with indigenous communities. He loved the country so much that he decided to stay. In 2007, he became Peru’s Country Director for ProWorld Service Corps. This international development NGO specialises in projects for isolated, indigenous communities. He returned to the UK in 2009 to join the Cafedirect Producers Foundation (CPF) start-up team. He designed and managed all of CPF’s international projects across East Africa and Latin America.

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    • How to win EEPA? Past winners reveal their recipe for a winning formula April 20, 2017
      What is the recipe for success? What is the secret? How can you make sure your project is one of the next European Enterprise Promotion Award (EEPA) winners? EEPA is an opportunity for public bodies and public-private partnerships from across the EU Member States, (as well as Iceland, Serbia and Turkey) to put forward their […]
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