Archive for ‘Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship’
In this week’s post from our June Entrepreneur in Residence, Kenny Ewan of WeFarm delivers a TEDx Talk about providing the benefits of the Internet to the 500 million small-scale farmers around the world with no Internet access.
Each month on the Promoting Enterprise blog, an Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR) will give us an insight into their entrepreneurial journey. This month’s entrepreneur is Nathan Farrugia from Malta. His company, Ultimate Performance, works with CEOs, leaders and business owners who are seeking to take their performance to a higher level in business and in life. Watch his TEDx talk here.
© Samuel Rondot
At the end of 2014, I quit my CEO role at Inspire, Malta’s leading non-profit education and health provider, and set up my coaching business in January 2015. Since then, it’s been an interesting journey of metamorphosis for me personally, building up something from scratch while delivering services to my clients through my coaching services and the Ultimate Performance, UP Executive Academy.
I spend about half of my time working one-to-one with Chief Executives and Managing Directors who want to challenge their personal and business limits and reach new heights. Often, this revolves around growing or scaling their business, developing strong leadership or a positive and empowering culture. Sometimes, it’s helping them find the internal strength to carry out an exit plan. Everyone is different, but we are all the same. We are wired to be cautious, cynical and suspicious of our own ability. This holds us back and keeps us from achieving great things. My job is to help unlock this potential by asking the right questions and helping to uncover the answers from within.
I’ve been through this growth process myself, as it took a lot of courage to quit a well-paying job with great work-life balance to venture out solo. I grew that courage with learnt techniques, which I now share with my clients. Learning how to build confidence, take risks and prepare for adversity has made me very resilient. I’ve taken on a number of extreme physical and mental challenges for charitable causes, running, swimming and cycling some of the world’s toughest races to help raise funds for charity. These challenges have also helped me develop my character and ability to feel comfortable in extreme discomfort.
For me, the journey is more important than the goal. My journey is one of self discovery and personal growth, as much as it’s about growing a business from a financial perspective.
My mind is currently focussed on developing a scalable model for my coaching business and taking it international. The challenge is always staying true to what you believe in, and being persistent to stay on the right path. Often, opportunities can take you in the wrong direction if all you are chasing is a goal. For me, the journey is more important than the goal. My journey is one of self discovery and personal growth, as much as it’s about growing a business from a financial perspective.
Chairing and running the Academy for Chief Executives franchise in Malta is helping our country’s leaders to develop themselves through peer-to-peer learning and sharing best practice. This is a great space for leadership inspiration and we want to increase our membership.
I also want to spend time in the various foundations I run, including Empower Coop and the Lino Spiteri Foundation, which are creating jobs for disabled persons. Our model is making a difference and we want to spread the word to encourage other countries to follow suit. The recent TEDx talk in The Hague generated some interest, alongside our I AM ABLE media campaign.
In addition to all this, I’m also chairman of the the Paralympic Movement in Malta and we’re gearing up for the Rio 2016 Olympics this summer. We’re a small team but it’s a great feeling to carry our national flag. I chair the Malta Voluntary Sector, which supports the 1000+ NGOs in Malta, and we’re very busy providing training programmes, funding and mentoring to the extremely active sector. Malta has a rich volunteering scene and we’re responsible for its upkeep.
Finally, we’ve just organised Xterra Malta, an annual international triathlon race, which I co-founded, that sees 200 people from 20 countries race in our beautiful Majjistral Nature Reserve. It’s a mecca for mountain bikers and sports enthusiasts and I’m very proud of our national heritage.
So I’m pretty busy at the moment, but I manage to balance this well with my wife and two young daughters, and I also make time for my own personal learning, my sport and my social life.
To keep up with Nathan, and find out what’s next for him on his entrepreneurial journey, don’t miss the second instalment of his blog here next Wednesday.
Nathan Farrugia is an entrepreneur. He attributes much of his success to a mindset that challenges the impossible and takes every obstacle as an opportunity to find new solutions to old problems. He has used this mindset to break world record endurance challenges, as well as to grow successful enterprises. He now spends most of his time coaching CEOs and business leaders on how to unlock their own performance potential as part of the UP Academy. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter.
Please, introduce Watly (and yourself) and the vision with which it was founded.
My name is Marco A. Attisani, and I am the founder and CEO of Watly. We intend to provide solutions to some of the most fundamental and global human needs: access to clean water and sanitation, as well as free-energy and connectivity. Our mission is to improve global living standards for the most in-need people in the world.
For that reason, we are building the first thermodynamic computer in the world, Watly. Watly is also a water purification system and an electric power-station. It generates electricity off-grid to power its own internal electronics as well as thousands of external devices. It purifies water from any source of contamination, without the use of filters. Watly is exclusively powered by solar energy.
In what ways has Watly benefited from participating in professional organisations, incubators, and the like?
During the 3 years of our company’s history, we have been selected as the top start-up in different international competitions and European accelerators. We have been awarded multiple times with valuable nominations as well as with monetary prizes. I wish to name the most relevant programmes we have been a part of that actually added value to our start-up: European Pioneers and Premio Marzotto.
How would you characterise the environment for pursuing R&D in the EU?
The problem I see with EU R&D sponsors is that they are far from being as visionary and bold as their US counterparts. R&D in Europe lacks not only serious money but also an attitude towards innovation. In Europe, we lack the vision and courage to build something really unexpected and revolutionary. The Horizon 2020 program is an exception to this, but that is not good news for R&D because Horizon 2020 cannot possibly cover all R&D investment needs.
Has Watly been able to leverage EU funding?
The Horizon 2020 program is said to help the EU’s most innovative SMEs to turn their concepts and prototypes into commercially successful products. Well, I would say that this was absolutely the case for us!
Watly is one of the companies to have benefited from this great financial instrument. In September 2016, we will officially present our ultimate version of Watly, the first thermodynamic computer in the world. This will be possible only because of the SME Instrument and nothing else. We have an ambitious plan, and we really think we will go IPO in less than 8 years from now. On that day, when big investors will finally be on board and satisfied customers spread all over the planet, we will certainly remember that our first and most prestigious investor was indeed the EU. We owe Horizon 2020 a great company success, and in due course, we will deliver beyond expectations.
What results, products, or successes would you like to point out?
It is quite clear that we are addressing one of the greatest challenges of humanity but also one of the biggest business opportunities of the 21st century. There is an enormous market for those entrepreneurs and investors willing to take a step forward.
Our feasibility study leads us to a straightforward conclusion: we are among the pioneers and very few first movers of the 4th industrial revolution. For this very reason, we may also soon become the leaders of this market. Thanks to Horizon 2020 we will prove the viability of our product by September 2016.
Very soon 1 in 3 people in the world will have a disease. The health costs for governments to sustain this will quickly become impossible.
It is thus becoming blindingly apparent that the current system is not sustainable and a new approach to disease is needed to help billions of people live longer and happier lives with the prevention of illness.
This is what ultimately inspires me. I created Nuritas™ to make a difference in the lives of billions of people and to shift the outlook of current global health systems.
Nuritas™ is the first company in the world to use new technologies like artificial intelligence and DNA analysis to find and develop natural, sustainable, and affordable disease-beating molecules that have no damaging side-effects. These ingredients are able to be included in many different products, from personal care to food, to help people prevent illness.
My journey to the creation of Nuritas™ began in Mathematics and evolved into a PhD in Molecular Evolution and Bioinformatics, followed by post-doctoral work in the food area.
The most significant information that I took from my research career was that the food and health systems have to be rethought. Within all of my research and collaborations with industry, I began to understand that the key to reducing and preventing disease begins and ends with food and the best way to uncover what was really in food was looking at the data within to see what food is fully capable of. And that’s exactly what we do at Nuritas™. We are able to unlock disease-beating molecules, called peptides, within food that have life-changing effects such as reducing inflammation, reducing muscle loss and regulating blood glucose. These health issues are what billions of people are dealing with and a simple revaluation of the health system, such as what Nuritas™ is envisioning, will help these people live healthier lives.
I am extremely excited to present at TEDx Binnenhof on March 31st alongside the most innovative companies in Europe. I think we are all helping billions of people in so many ways and these incredible ideas presented on the TEDx stage are truly inspiring.
I hope that what we are doing here at Nuritas™ inspires others to join us in the journey with collaborative work and partnerships. We look forward to meeting you all there and changing the world together!
We are living in an age where we have gained incredible opportunities from technology, and especially the decentralization of knowledge that the internet has brought us, yet sadly not everyone shares this privilege.
We came up with the idea for WeFarm after spending years working with smallholder farmers and indigenous communities in Latin America and Africa. Every day, I would see farmers come up with low-cost, innovative solutions to their problems, but these ideas wouldn’t travel very far.
As the majority of smallholder farmers live in remote areas without internet access it is challenging for people to share and access vital information easily. Simple pieces of advice or information can make a big difference, such as saving animals from disease or improving harvest yields. When you keep only a few animals and earn less than $2 a day this can make a major impact in people’s lives.
We wanted to design an easy way for smallholder farmers to share information, and in the process, challenge the idea that people living in poverty need only top down advice, and aren’t capable of participating in the crowdsourcing models we have come to rely on in the West.
Using WeFarm, the world’s’ 500 million small-scale farmers can access this type of information, even without access to the internet. With WeFarm, small-scale farmers can ask questions about agriculture and receive answers back from fellow farmers around the world, in a matter of minutes. I’ve seen farmers learn about growing new crops, find solutions to their problems and even research how to start a microbusiness.
The guiding principle behind my business is very simple: if farmers can gain access to information that will improve their farming practice, they can lift themselves and their families out of poverty.
2015 was an incredible year for us. WeFarm launched successfully in Kenya, Uganda and Peru and we quickly scaled to reaching more than 50,000 farmers. Even more exciting than that, farmers love using WeFarm! Every month we process more than 100,000 SMS, and in total there have been more than 7 million interactions on our system.
WeFarm utilises the incredible aggregated data that we gather through these conversations to provide unique insight to the corporates that source from these farmers, as well as the governments and NGOs that work with them.
With WeFarm our dream is to revolutionise the way that half of the world’s population accesses information, and by the end of 2016 we aim to connect 1 million farmers to WeFarm. And that is just the beginning..!
I’m very excited to be participating in this year’s TEDxBinnehof and to be recognised as one of the winning Ideas from Europe was a real honour. I’m looking to learn about some of the latest European innovators, as I love to hear about grassroots innovations and big thinking world-changing innovations in equal measures. We are also very excited to be presenting WeFarm on such a global stage.
WeFarm is currently in the process of raising investment in order to scale significantly, with the goal of reaching a million farmers by the end of 2016. We are also developing partnerships with corporate businesses, companies that source from smallholders, and NGOs. If we could find contacts within the investment scene, or people looking to partner with us, that would really help WeFarm in our journey to becoming the world’s largest social network for farmers.
By Diana Kool in Meet our speakers
For more information about TEDxBinnenhof | Ideas from Europe and the speakers, please contact Diana Kool or Michiel Stol.
Follow us on social media
www.ideasfromeurope.eu | #TEDxB16 | #IdeasfromEU
My journey, and more specifically PolyCare’s journey started on a bright January day six years ago. But for nearly 150,000 people it would be their last day. Over a million people would lose wives, husbands, children and friends. 200,000 homes would be destroyed. Countless businesses lost their premises, their staff and countless people even lost the will to carry on. Nature had played it’s wicked hand and Haiti lay in ruins.
I was struck with a desire to do something rather than watching those terrible images on the TV. But what?
Over the weeks that followed I sided with the locals and became increasingly frustrated with the slow reconstruction process. Unfortunately this problem is all too common after disasters. For both my colleagues and myself this was all the motivation we needed. So the challenge was set. How could we produce a system that built faster and stronger? That provided homes that improved health, wellbeing and longevity, as well as being much better at withstanding the worst that nature could deliver?
A chance meeting with a former East German engineer provided the catalyst. He designed a system that overcame many of the current issues by using ordinary desert sand to make polymer concrete elements in a LEGO style construction. A system so simple, unskilled survivors themselves could do most of the building. This issue was crucial to us. We wanted a system that not only built homes, but also one that empowers people to help themselves and to once again provide the motivation to live, to hope and to dream of the future.
Disaster relief is not the only application for this technology. It is estimated that over 1.3bn people are without a proper home. Indeed the majority of countries have a housing deficit. In many slums and favelas, ‘a home’ means just a few sticks and some plastic sheet. Believe me, visiting such places is a chilling experience that leaves me with memories that do not fade. Nor should they. In a civilized world we must do better, and we can do better!
Like many other inventors this journey of ours has not been easy. We knew that very many had failed before us. Of course we have had setbacks, but we are testing the bounds of what is possible and challenging the status quo. Two years on from our first demonstration, the rate of development has been exceptional. Governments and the public, rather than agencies and companies are now promoting our system and we are in the planning stages of projects across three continents. Everywhere we go there is much excitement about what we do and TED TALK has been a great stimulus for all of us to build faster and better.
So we continue with renewed energy and conviction to drive this technology forward. Our goal would make a difference to millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people on the planet. We can provide the method that allows them to help themselves.
After my university degree in physiotherapy I set up my own business, but longed to be involved in organisations. After a few short steps, I became CEO of a leading therapy centre for persons with a disability, helping turn it into one of my country’s most successful non-profits. In order to create a wider impact, we merged with another leading educational organisation to form Inspire, becoming our country’s largest non-profit service provider. Our aim was to enable persons with all types of disabilities to find their rightful place in society through education, therapy, social inclusion, lobbying for change and supporting advocacy.
Despite all our efforts to educate and support from both school to end, a very small fraction actually found gainful employment. Even with an investment of millions of € the rate of employment of disabled persons hovered around 5%. These were mostly those with higher function. The vast majority of those with more complex needs ended up in institutions or unfulfilled at home. Something was going terribly wrong.
Our aims for inclusion were to create sustainable employment that did not exclude them from mainstream workforce. However business were concerned about the poor productive outputs of the individuals when they took on complex tasks. We needed to find a better way. Sheltered employment is not inclusive and we wanted to be within the enterprises.
We set up a cooperative of persons with complex needs and partnered with a couple of open-minded businesses to set up a ‘hybrid’
supported ‘team’ environment that took over the responsibility of a part of the business. We worked on assembly, packaging, back office administration and document management and found that if we dissected the work processes up and matched these micro-processes to the skills of the individual, and actually ‘removed’ any tasks that mis-matched, productivity shot up. The individuals enjoyed the tasks they felt they were good at, and their motivation soared. We then matched the ‘removed’ tasks to the strengths of other people from our database, motivating them too. With this matching, we created a ‘specialist’ work team that performed well enough to make their jobs sustainable. We played a business process to the strengths of the individuals, rather than the usual way of recruiting the skill set to meet the business needs, and it worked. We are now acting on a national level with a range of different ‘options’ for businesses to take on vulnerable people. It really is working…
I hope TEDxBinnenhof will help us raise awareness that we need a paradigm shift for us to be able to maximise human capital. The advancement in technology is leaving too many behind, and over the next decade many jobs will become redundant if we continue to use the current model of job-creation. The first to suffer will be those who are more vulnerable, but the next in line will be the less qualified or those without specialised competencies. We need to rethink job definitions and pay more attention to the specific abilities people have, rather than their inabilities (or disabilities). Only then can we draw out the maximum potential of an individual.
If we are to get this idea further, we need people to have open ears and open minds. Anyone interested in exploring ways to bring out the potential of persons with a disability through job-carving, skills matching and policy making, please do get in touch.
By Diana Kool in Meet our speakers
The Grand Jury Prize was awarded during the European Enterprise Promotion Awards ceremony, during the SME Week 2015. It is an award that can be given to an initiative from any category, and was given to the entry considered to be the most creative and inspiring entrepreneurship initiative in Europe.
We asked Lisboa Empreende/Lisbon Micro-Entrepreneurship, the winners of the 2015 Grand Jury Prize, a few questions about winning this prestigious award. The programme works to support responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship – from helping to develop business plans to advising on how best to obtain funding.
- What did you learn from your experience with the European Enterprise Promotion Awards?
It was a great experience with lots of visibility in the entrepreneur environment.
Taking part in the Ceremony was a fantastic experience, we met some very interesting projects and contacts. We also shared experience, challenges and solutions for the creation and growth of SMEs.
- What did winning the Grand Jury Prize at the 2015 SME Assembly in Luxembourg mean to you?
Recognition (and more motivation) for the project, and also being recognised in Lisbon for the promotion of entrepreneurship and the economic development of the city.
Lisbon Micro Entrepreneurship is a programme developed by the municipality to help entrepreneurs to start small business in Lisbon.
The idea is to use the institutional power of the municipality to celebrate partnerships with public and private entities in order to promote business in Lisbon, facilitate access to finance and boost entrepreneurship.
Since 2013, we have made more than 1000 contacts, worked with more than 200 entrepreneurs with potential businesses and helped to establish more than 70 businesses, creating 160 jobs.
The main clients of Lisbon Micro-Entrepreneurship are unemployed people with skills (mostly people with college degrees and work experience), aged between 30 and 50 years old.
Our work is divided in 3 main sectors:
Mentoring – We help people to work on their business concept; business plans; and coaching through the whole process of the project development. Sometimes, this also includes further mentoring after the business is established.
Access to finance – We use partnerships with public institutions, private institutions and banks that permit access to credit products with very special rates.
Access to spaces – We help businesses to get access to either public (public offers in parish councils) or private spaces with special conditions (this includes collaborative work space and, business incubators, for example).
This award is very important to the project, because it gives it credibility and will help when negotiating new partnerships, particularly with the financial institutions that have better conditions for entrepreneurs. It also allows us to support more entrepreneurs.
- What advice can you give to other SMEs wanting to take part in the Awards?
We would advise other cities and/or regions to have a proactive strategy to support entrepreneurship; create networking among the various players; and partner up to meet the needs of SMEs.
It is important to participate in the EEPAs because it gives you the opportunity to meet new projects, potential partners, share and learn from each other about how to support the creation and growth of SMEs.
To find out more about Libson Micro-Entrepreneurship, watch this short video.
The seven winners of the 2015 European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) have been announced, with the Grand Jury Prize being awarded to a Portuguese project.
The project, Lisboa Empreende/Lisbon Micro-Entrepreneurship, is a programme that works to support responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship – from helping to develop business plans to advising on how best to obtain funding.
Lisboa Empreende/Lisbon Micro-Entrepreneurship was set up in 2013 with the aim of invigorating the city’s economy and promoting job creation. It forms part of Lisbon Municipal Council’s global strategy to support entrepreneurship and brings together public, private, local and national bodies to enable anyone to get support for projects. The programme helps entrepreneurs develop ideas and business plans, assists in obtaining funding and provides support on project implementation. The organisation has already successfully set up 50 companies, created over 100 jobs and held over 550 meetings with entrepreneurs.
See Lisboa Empreende on Business Planet: Why Lisbon is luring entrepreneurs (video)
Six other projects from the Netherlands, Ireland, United Kingdom, Estonia, Spain and Germany were recognised for their work on fostering entrepreneurial spirit, improving and simplifying business creation and investing in skills. Projects from Denmark, Malta, Slovenia, and Greece also received Special Mentions from the EEPA jury. The Awards ceremony took place in Luxembourg on 19 November 2015 as part of the SME Assembly, the main event of the European SME Week.
Since 2006, the European Enterprise Promotion Awards have rewarded public bodies and public-private partnerships who have shown excellence in promoting entrepreneurship and small businesses. Over 3100 projects have entered during this time, and have supported the creation of thousands of new companies. The awards’ objectives are to create a greater awareness of the role entrepreneurs play in European society and encourage and inspire potential entrepreneurs. This is achieved by identifying and recognising successful activities and initiatives to promote enterprise and entrepreneurship, and then showcasing and sharing examples of best entrepreneurship policies and practices.
Winners of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2015
Grand Jury Prize Winner
Portugal – Lisboa Empreende/Lisbon Micro-Entrepreneurship is a successful, inspiring and innovative programme stimulating micro-entrepreneurship in Lisbon through a comprehensive range of measures focusing on disadvantaged groups, while staying open to all future entrepreneurs.
Responsible organisation: Lisboa Municipal Council
Promoting Entrepreneurial Spirit
Netherlands – ZomerOndernemer changes mind-sets and improve entrepreneurial skills of young people during their summer holidays. The project is based on ‘learning by doing’, and has impressive results with almost ¼ of participants deciding they want to be entrepreneurs.
Responsible organisation: The New Entrepreneur Foundation
Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills
Ireland – Going for Growth encourages female entrepreneurs to be ambitious and supports them in achieving their growth aspirations with a mix of measure encompassing role models promotion, networking and peer-learning.
Responsible organisation: Fitzsimons Consulting in association with the Gender Equality Division, Department of Justice and Equality
Improving the Business Environment
United Kingdom – Creative Quarter aims to support creative SMEs in generating prosperity and creating jobs by developing a highly-skilled local workforce ready to compete in the knowledge economy.
Responsible organisation: Creative Quarter Nottingham Limited
Supporting the Internationalisation of Business
Estonia – GameFounders is a global game industry accelerator that aims to support technical teams in developing a product business model. The project has already supported 28 teams from 16 countries, all of whom are still operating.
Responsible organisation: GameFounders OÜ
Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency
Spain – Green Business Network is the first networking platform in Spain to specialise in green business. It follows a comprehensive approach, including support for start-ups, for business consolidation, for new green business lines of existing companies, and for environmental innovation.
Responsible organisation: Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment
Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship
Germany – Enterability is a project benefitting people with disabilities. It combines measures relevant for this group with a sound start-up expertise, employing a diversity of tools: seminars, mentoring, or peer-counselling.
Responsible organisation: Social Impact GmbH
I don’t know if everyone knows the full story, but a few months ago, 12 to be exact, I embarked on a new venture with an amazing team. As a special education teacher, I noticed long ago that there was something missing when it came to technology for children that are non-verbal. Programs were often hacked and revised by parents thirsty for the right technology for their children that are often diagnosed with learning disabilities. Despite the best efforts, something was missing.
I wasn’t the only one to notice this. In fact, a long time friend of mine and successful gamer, Kim and his colleague Stian noticed that the apps designed for children of special needs were no where near as sophisticated as those games made for children without learning differences. It was around that time that Kim was approached by a friend of his named Roald. Nine years ago Roald’s wife gave birth to a wonderful, amazing baby girl who was diagnosed with autism. I don’t know what most parents would do in the situation – but what Roald did was exceptional – he gave up his profession as a sports agent and went on to become a scientist examining the issues that his non-verbal daughter faces on a daily basis. When the 4 of us met we knew we had the makings of something special. Hence Superplus was born.
So here we are. SuperSpeak is in Beta and ready to be tested. We should be all set right? We’ve got an educator, a scientist and a two genius game developers. Surprisingly, the answer is NO!
Something was missing AND THAT IS YOU! We need YOU to be our fifth founder.
What are we asking? We are calling on you, as a family member, educator, friend, counselor, neighbor…what have you… to download SuperSpeak and give us your opinion. You are the ones on the front lines, every day, working with a child who as learning differences. You are the ones who can tell us what works best for your ‘SuperKiddo.’ What resonates with them and what doesn’t? What do they like and what do they not like? What are their milestones and when have you met them? YOUR experience is just as important as my years in the field, Roald’s discoveries at Yale University and Kim and Stians’s amazing success in the gaming world. You are the champion for your SuperKiddo and we need your feedback, via our survey, to create a holistic app that will help non-verbal children. YOU will be our final partner. We can’t be successful as a company until our fifth partner is active and on board.
In the appreciation of your time and your efforts, after you download SuperSpeak and answer our survey, you will be entered for a chance to win a prize. We are a small, stealthy and focused company, and this is just a small token of our appreciation. We will also gift you SuperSpeak for a year. Again, small gestures, but we, as a company, and you, as a person who knows a non-verbal child, have bigger goals that go beyond freebies. That said, it is a pretty cool prize, click here to get set up.
That is it. That’s our call to you. Partner with us to create something that will improve children’s’ lives. Together we will help children be happier and healthier! We can do this – we can make something special – but only if we do it together.
If you are ready get started just click here http://bit.ly/1zawTJA and you will be up and running in no time!