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YEC 2022 – You have more time than you thought!

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Want to know some good news? The deadline for submitting entries to the SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2022 is being extended to October 7! To the early birds who already submitted their applications – thank you and good luck during the selection process! The new deadline extension will give you the time you need to submit a winning entry.

The YEC jury will select three finalists to attend the SME Assembly in November, where they will present their essays to the 500+ delegates gathered at the assembly. The winning essay will then be selected in a public vote. The essays of all the finalists will be promoted across EU channels.

Don’t delay! Register here, and get writing!

Why and how to submit your essay?

Well, this year the competition asks young people to think about the theme: Our European economies are highly dependent on fossil fuel energies. How can future young entrepreneurs contribute to a more sustainable economy?

Are you full of ideas on how to reduce our fossil fuel dependence and eager to share them with a Europe-wide audience? Then the SME Week Youth Essay Competition is an opportunity not to be missed! 

Are you up to the challenge? To have a chance at winning a trip to the SME Assembly 2022 in Prague this November, all you have to do is to submit a 2,500-word essay in English on the theme above and submit it here before the new deadline of 7 October 2022.

So what are you waiting for? Get thinking about the future skills needed by entrepreneurs; get writing; and get in with a chance to be the winner of this year’s competition. Submit your essay  here before it’s too late!

Advice from last year’s winner

According to last year’s winner Kristina Dimova, “The people, the ideas, the future are the main pillars of the competition” and she says this competition “was a way to figure out if I’m capable of showcasing complex ideas in a simple yet compelling way”. Kristina adds that “the only competition you have is yourself” and “be brave”.

You can find more information on the previous editions of the YEC here. We will also follow with more advice and tips to help you with your entries, so make sure to visit the Promoting Enterprise News Portal regularly, and don’t forget to follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram accounts and subscribe to our newsletter.

The voice of experience: some advice from 2021 YEC winner Kristina Dimova

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The deadline for participating in this year’s SME Week Youth Essay Competition is almost upon us. But don’t worry – you can still enter, so get writing and make sure to submit your entry by September 26. To inspire you, the YEC winners from 2018, 2019 and 2020 have already shared their top tips and today it is the turn of 2021 winner Kristina Dimova, who offers some advice below.

Kristina, who is from Bulgaria, won the 2021 YEC with an essay that highlighted that humanity is the key to sustainability, both when developing a business plan for a small and medium enterprise (SMEs) and when it comes to company management. Kristina has described her participation in the competition as “a moment of pure bliss!” Read on to see what advice she has to give to this year’s participants.

How would you approach this year’s theme?

Energy has proven to be a crucial topic not only for policies in the coming years but also for our everyday lives. I would definitely try to think outside the box as I did in my essay last year and, honestly, as every single winner did in the previous years. For sure, showing examples connected to the problem will help the overall density of the essay – no matter if they are about real start-ups, or if they are focused on an imaginary entrepreneurial solution to the energy problem. However, focusing on a particular storytelling arch will bring out the originality of the idea that the participant is trying to showcase. Therefore, for me, as a representative of Bulgaria – a country that is highly dependent on fossil fuels, I’d probably think how this topic is related to my personal story. I’d ask myself what is important for me as a young person and what are the crucial steps that we have to take for a more sustainable future. However, for sure, all these ideas should be presented with an authentic story. The more authentic, the better.

Why should young people participate in this competition?

The people, the ideas, the future. These are the main pillars of the competition for me. During the Assembly, I had the chance to meet phenomenal people from all over Europe. As I have stated before, a great story can be a real game changer. Each one of these people had a great story to tell and therefore they inspired me to change my personal story arch.

When in Portoroz, I saw once again that ideas are everything, but they can be nothing without execution. All of the people there had their own cause. When you see how all these ideas have developed, that truly motivates you, especially when you are young and you have yet to test your ideas.

When talking about testing, SME Assembly 2021 was all about the future and what we could do to make it better. Lean thinking was key for most of the entrepreneurs that took part in it, and testing and validating during the process was crucial for them. However, when we talk about the future, I must say that there is a special place for youth during the event.

A lot of policymakers and entrepreneurs not only listened to my presentation but also came and talked to me afterward about the ideas I spoke about. I gained more knowledge about entrepreneurship from the event, but not only that – because of my win I was also a speaker during the EU Industry Days 2022 conference. The best is yet to come because I’m about to take the lead position in 9Academy – a platform and business academy for professionals and entrepreneurs in Bulgaria. YEC 2021 was the push for me to see that entrepreneurship is the way for me, and I’m more than grateful for the whole experience.

Do you have any advice for the 2022 competitors?

Be brave. This is the only advice I can give to the competitors. Yes, the topic is important and it can be difficult to write a compelling essay for it. Yes, you might ask yourself – why am I writing something so complex? Because the only competition you have is yourself.

This competition was a way to figure out if I’m capable of showcasing complex ideas in a simple yet compelling way. However, it turned out to be a milestone in my career. Before it, I thought I’m only good at certain skills. Now, after the Assembly, I know that I have a skill set that has been growing after participating in the competition. So, be brave. You have nothing to lose. In addition to the competition, you will for sure win a broader perspective on a topic that is so important that it means everything to our lives.

This year the competition asks young people to think about the theme: Our European economies are highly dependent on fossil fuel energies. How can future young entrepreneurs contribute to a more sustainable economy?

Are you full of ideas on how to reduce our fossil fuel dependence and eager to share them with a Europe-wide audience? Then the SME Week Youth Essay Competition is an opportunity not to be missed! All you have to do is write a 2,500-word essay in English on the theme above and submit it here before the deadline of 26 September 2022.

The YEC jury will select three finalists to attend the SME Assembly in November, where they will present their essays to the 500+ delegates gathered at the assembly. The winning essay will then be selected in a public vote. The essays of all the finalists will be promoted across EU channels.

You can find more information on the previous editions of the YEC here. We will also follow with more advice and tips to help you with your entries, so make sure to visit the Promoting Enterprise News Portal regularly, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and subscribe to our newsletter.

The voice of experience: 2019 YEC winner Radu Dumitrescu has some advice

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As the September 26 deadline approaches for submitting an entry in this year’s SME Week Youth Essay Competition, on the Promoting Enterprise portal we have been speaking to previous winners to see what advice they have for this year’s participants. We have already heard from 2018 winner Marija Borg. This time it is the turn of 2019 winner Radu Dumitrescu.

In 2019, the competition asked young people aged 18-25 to prepare a speech from the perspective of the new Commissioner for SMEs and Entrepreneurship addressed to Europe’s entrepreneurs. Radu impressed the jury with his entry Silicon Europe 2030, outlining proposed measures to support European SMEs. Radu has some top tips for this year’s entrants, so read on to see what he has to say!

How would you approach this year’s theme?

Energy has proven to be a crucial topic for policies in the coming years. Young European entrepreneurs and their peers are among the most aware of our fossil fuel dependency, not to mention its environmental and even political costs. They see it as a heavy iron ball connected to our feet by a chain that is proving hard to break. As citizens and entrepreneurs, I believe they’ve realized that we’ve been using fossil fuels from countries ruled by authoritarian governments for far too long now, propping them up with our money.

A more sustainable European economy not only means smog-free cities, healthier food, and better overall quality of life. It means a safer, more democratic, freer Europe. A greener EU, and not one that simply exports its pollution, could have rendered Putin powerless, starved of funds and unable to invade a peaceful neighbor like Ukraine, uprooting millions.

If I were a contestant approaching this year’s theme, I would try to move past too familiar, albeit essential, arguments for sustainability. I would instead argue that we have a moral duty, as young entrepreneurs, to spearhead a more sustainable European economy not only for generations to come, but also for the countless people who now live under the boot of resource-rich autocrats that we subsidise.

Why should young people participate in this competition?

I still remember my time at the SME Week Youth Essay Competition in Finland. Simultaneously nervous and excited, I took to the stage and shared my thoughts on what mattered for our shared European economies. What’s more, I was doing it in front of Europe’s star entrepreneurs, representatives of various businesses associations, not to mention European officials. It’s a unique position to be in, especially when you’re young, and if I had the chance to do it again, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

Winning gave me the confidence to speak in public more, to put my ideas on paper. I went on to be awarded the Charlemagne Prize Fellowship for 2020/2021 with a project on the future of manufacturing in Europe. I am not an economist, nor did I have heaps of experience when it came to the field, but I was confident in my abilities to formulate an idea that had to be heard, just like I had in the YEC.

Do you have any advice for the 2022 competitors?

I think this year’s competitors should be bold, as befits youngsters. They should be confident in their ideas, even if they’re not the most mainstream ones. I am absolutely sure that I don’t need to remind young European entrepreneurs that innovation can come from anywhere, including themselves. They should let their voices be heard, because their absence would only make our Europe poorer.

Tell us a bit about where you are now, what winning the competition meant for you, how it benefited you.

It’s never easy to get on a stage and speak, and in some sense, after getting on it in Helsinki, I never got off. Winning YEC in 2019 gave me the confidence to apply for the Charlemagne Prize Academy Fellowship, and then press on with my doctoral thesis on populism, which I am finishing this year. It is almost as if I proved to myself that I can do well when I speak and write back then, because I’m now doing both professionally, you could say. I became a journalist at Romania Insider, writing news pieces in English on business, politics, and social topics each day. I also started a small YouTube channel, with some success. I’ve also grown personally, developing my knowledge in business and economy, which seemed somewhat off-limits to me beforehand, as domains that were only to be approached by those wiser and older. Participating, not to mention winning, in the YEC made me into a more well rounded individual. I wish that for every participant.

This year’s challenge

This year the competition asks young people to think about the theme: Our European economies are highly dependent on fossil fuel energies. How can future young entrepreneurs contribute to a more sustainable economy?

Are you full of ideas on how to reduce our fossil fuel dependence and eager to share them with a Europe-wide audience? Then the SME Week Youth Essay Competition is an opportunity not to be missed! All you have to do is write a 2,500-word essay in English on the theme above and submit it here before the deadline of 26 September 2022.

The YEC jury will select three finalists to attend the SME Assembly in November, where they will present their essays to the 500+ delegates gathered at the assembly. The winning essay will then be selected in a public vote. The essays of all the finalists will be promoted across EU channels.

You can find more information on the previous editions of the YEC here. We will also follow with more advice and tips to help you with your entries, so make sure to visit the Promoting Enterprise News Portal regularly, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and subscribe to our newsletter.

Celebrate International Photography Day with a look back to SME Assembly 2021

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It is International Photography Day! As we are counting the days for SME Assembly 2022, we wanted to commemorate the memories from 2021.

What a year! Relive more precious moments here.

Inspiration from past YEC winners and finalists

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The SME Week Youth Essay Competition (YEC) is now in its 7th edition, so the class of 2022 has a huge number of past winners and finalists from whom it can take inspiration. And as we saw last year, this can be the key to success.

In her acceptance speech, YEC 2021 winner, Kristina Dimova, paid tribute to her predecessor, Sabine Kerssens. Referring to Sabine’s ‘intriguing and complex’ essay, Kristina said that it ‘inspired me even more to participate. I wanted to see if I can do what she did so gracefully – present such an innovative idea in a way everyone can understand it.’

As we now know, Kristina was indeed able to do what Sabine had done. In her essay on the competences and skills entrepreneurs would need in the future, she concluded that ‘the only way the business ecosystem can adapt is to overcome its ego and become human. Not only towards its outside values but toward its employees as well. The Good, The Digital, and The Human are the face of the future.’ Read Kristina’s essay here.

Victoria Krah Ripoll, YEC Finalist 2021

YEC 2021 was a close-run thing. Finalist, Victoria Krah Ripoll described three start-ups that had coped with uncertainty during the pandemic by meeting the challenges of digitalisation and sustainability. ‘However,’ she wrote, ‘there is another fundamental skill without which none of those businesses would have survived or even come to live: creativity. (…) One could argue that creativity is the catalyst for innovating. Indeed, innovation itself could be defined as the victory of creativity.’ Read Victoria’s essay here.

Sabine Kerssens, YEC 2020 Winner

Sabine Kerssens’ YEC 2020 essay, which so inspired Kristina Dimova, tackled the question of how EU policy can best aid entrepreneurs in becoming sustainable and resilient in the context of COVID-19 and other global challenges. Sabine’s answer was by creating a single start-up scale-up market. ‘We need to centralise the journey of young entrepreneurial talents that grow into the multinational CEOs of tomorrow’, she wrote. ‘By learning from their lessons we create a test bed that brings the EU one step closer to connecting all multinationals, SMEs and individuals of Europe.’ Read Sabine’s essay here.

Pablo Pastor Vidal, YEC 2020 finalist

Like Kristina, Sabine overcame some tough competition to win the YEC. 2020 finalist, Pablo Pastor Vidal gave three answers to the question: by focusing on grassroots projects that take account of the needs around them, by not being scared of progress and the digital revolution, and by being aware of new ideas without forgetting old problems. As regards the main lesson he had learned from the pandemic, Pablo wrote, ‘I will always remember how fragile humans are. But at the same time, this individual fragility is what makes us so special, because when we unite, we can be stronger than ever.’ Read Pablo’s essay here.

Radu Dumitrescu, YEC 2019 Winner

In YEC 2019, entrants were challenged to write the speech that they would give to Europe’s entrepreneurs if they had just been named Commissioner for SMEs and Entrepreneurship. Winner, Radu Dumitrescu proposed to speak about measures to which he would apply the ‘Think Small First’ principle. One was encouraging international trade. ‘Small-scale entrepreneurial firms that act locally but sell and buy internationally are the prime movers and employers of society, and we must not forego them in favour of corporate giants’, he wrote. Read Radu’s essay here.

Marija Elena Borg, YEC 2018 Winner

YEC 2018 winner, Marija Elena Borg addressed the question ‘What steps should entrepreneurs and government take to become more innovative?’ She outlied five steps: allocate time for creativity and innovation; surround themselves with creative, inquisitive and proactive people; adopt management skills that will allow for the creation of an innovation culture; invest in public-private partnerships; and expect failures. Marija Elena concluded that ‘people are the primary cause for innovation within both enterprises and government departments.’ Read Marija Elena’s essay here.

For more information on how to enter YEC 2022, click HERE.

Look out for further inspiration on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter.

Youth Essay Competition 2022 – things to keep in mind

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With the 2022 Youth Essay Competition (YEC 2022) having been launched on 30 June, we know that many of you will be steaming ahead with writing your entries. To help you avoid any pitfalls, we’ve put together a list of five things you should keep in mind before you send your essays in.

  1. Check you’re eligible

Before you even start work, the first thing you need to do is to make sure you’re eligible to enter. For this, you have to be aged 18-25 (inclusive) and a citizen of a country that participates in COSME – the EU programme for small and medium-sized enterprises.

The COSME countries are as follows: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine.

2. Stay on topic

As you all doubtless know by now, the theme for YEC 2022 is ‘Our European economies are highly dependent on fossil fuel energies. How can future young entrepreneurs contribute to a more sustainable economy?’ We are sure you have interesting opinions on all kinds of subjects, but when writing your entries we really need you to stay on topic and avoid any (or at least too many) digressions.

3. Don’t write too much

Although we know that you’ve all got a lot of great ideas on what is a really important topic, our jury can only read through so many essays in a day. So keep your writing concise and to the point, and don’t go over 2 500 words or your entry won’t be accepted. Also, remember that we can only accept one entry per applicant.

4. Mind your language

Of course, it’s always easiest to express yourself in your native language. But for a competition like YEC 2022, it’s vital that all of the jury members understand the points you’re making. For this reason, entries have to be in English. What’s more, writing in English will help make sure that your essay is read by as many key business figures as possible.

5. Be on time

Last but not least, the deadline for sending your essays in is 26 September 2022. You can upload them HERE or e-mail them to smeweek@loweurope.eu. Any work received after 26 September won’t be considered. So manage your time well and be punctual!

Keep an eye on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal for more tips to help you with your entries, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter.

YEC 2022 now open for entries!

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The moment you have all been waiting for has finally arrived! We are happy to announce the launch of this year’s SME Week Youth Essay Competition (YEC). Now in its 7th edition, the YEC gives 18-25-year-olds a platform to share their bright ideas with key figures and stakeholders involved in enterprise, entrepreneurship and SMEs. Read on for all the details about this year’s competition!

The Youth Essay Competition is organised by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. Every year, the competition aims to focus young minds on resolving a key societal challenge.

This year’s challenge

This year the competition asks young people to think about the theme: Our European economies are highly dependent on fossil fuel energies. How can future young entrepreneurs contribute to a more sustainable economy?

Do you have something to say on this topic and would you like to get your ideas out there? Then the YEC is for you! All you have to do is write a 2,500-word essay in English on the theme above and submit it here before the deadline of 26 September 2022.

The YEC jury will then select three finalists who will attend the SME Assembly in November, where they will present their essays to the 500+ delegates gathered at the assembly. If this sounds scary, don’t worry – you will receive presentation training before the event. The winning essay will then be selected in a public vote. The essays of all the finalists will be promoted across EU channels.

The voice of experience

By giving young people the opportunity to share their views with key players in the world of entrepreneurship, the competition aims to achieve a greater goal – to raise the profile of entrepreneurship as an attractive career choice for young Europeans. European young people have been enthusiastic in their engagement with the competition, so let’s hear from some of them.

For Kristina Dimova from Bulgaria, who won the 2021 edition of YEC, the experience was “a moment of pure bliss.” “Many representatives of various institutions and companies who were in the audience during the competition congratulated me on this thesis. The fact that they have appreciated the youth perspective is what truly made me happy and is the biggest success,” she said.

Sabine Kerssens, the YEC winner in 2020, also found the experience to be extremely positive. “The Youth Essay Competition is a great start to participating in a greener and happier world. It helps you get your thoughts aligned, practice getting that message to your audience through writing, and be heard!” she said.

So – it’s time to get thinking, get typing, and submit. Before you start, read through the rules of the competition and please contact smeweek@loweurope.eu if you have any questions.

You can find more information on the previous editions of the YEC here. We will also follow with more advice and tips to help you with your entries, so make sure to visit the Promoting Enterprise News Portal regularly, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and subscribe to our newsletter.

SME Assembly 2022: Save the date!

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We are back with news on the most significant event for small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe: the SME Assembly. And what better day to announce when this key event will take place if not on the World SME Day?

We are 154 days apart from a 3-day journey on entrepreneurship, economy, policy and innovation. No need to do the math, just make sure to save the date!

This year the event will take place both in Prague, Czech Republic, and online between the 28th and 30th of November. Mark these days in your agenda because we will be getting back to share everything you need to know about the 2022 edition.

Organized together with the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Assembly will feature a mix of high-level panels, expert roundtables, interactive masterclasses and networking opportunities. We will also get to know who will be the winners of this year´s European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA), with one of the most awaited awards ceremony for the SME community taking place during the event.

If you want to quickly take a look at the highlights of the previous edition of the Assembly, feel free to relive the experience with the video below and prepare for what will come later this year!

SME Assembly 2021 Highlights

Updates about the programme and speakers will be announced on the European Commission website, here on the Promoting enterprise news portal and also via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

It’s that time of year again – Youth Essay Competition (YEC) 2022 is launching soon!

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The launch of the seventh edition of the SME Week Youth Essay Competition is imminent. Work is continuing on the concept for this year’s competition and we will make an announcement soon – so make sure to check the Prompting Enterprise portal regularly for details. In the meantime, read on to learn about the competition and be inspired by previous winners.

Organised by the European Commission Directorate-General for Single Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, the YEC is an opportunity for 18-25-year-olds to share their ideas and viewpoints with key figures and stakeholders in the spheres of enterprise, entrepreneurship and SMEs. More generally, the goal of the competition is to raise the profile of entrepreneurship as an attractive career choice for young Europeans. European young people have been enthusiastic in their engagement with the competition, so let’s hear from some of them.

Kristina Dimova from Bulgaria won the 2021 edition of YEC with an essay that highlighted that humanity is the key to sustainability, both when developing a business plan for a small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and when it comes to company management. We asked Kristina what it was like to be announced the winner of last year’s competition. Her response? “A moment of pure bliss!”

Kristina Dimova, winner of the 2021 SME Week Youth Essay Competition

Kristina was declared the YEC winner at the 2021 SME Week Assembly, which was held in the beautiful city of Portorož in Slovenia. Her main takeaway from the Assembly was that time is limited and that we should spend our time in a worthwhile way, making the most of life for ourselves, other people, and the world in which we live. “Every single business idea must be sustainable both for the environment and for society’s needs. In a world where people are more divided than ever on so many topics, we need to find the way to the right solutions for each of us. The SME Assembly 2021 showed me that with the right steps, finding the path towards re-establishing unity is possible,” she said.

You can read Kristina’s essay here. In her acceptance speech, Kristina said that she had been inspired to participate by the previous year’s winner – Sabine Kerssens. Sabine impressed the jury with her ideas about the importance of cross-border collaboration and how learning from different cultures made innovation more inclusive. Sabine won the live vote at the SME Assembly after presenting her ideas.

2020 SME Week YEC winner Sabine Kerssens

Sabine was very positive about her SME Assembly experience. “Through the Youth Essay Competition, the finalists shared the stage with some of the most fascinating speakers within and beyond the European Union. It was inspiring and uplifting to learn from the engaging sessions.” She had some words of advice for potential participants: “To all the young change makers out there: participate in events like this to make sure that you give yourself the chance to find your strengths and make your voice heard in different ways. You can do it!” You can read Sabine’s essay here.

In addition to the winners, finalists from previous years have also shared their experience of the competition with us. Victoria Krah was a finalist in 2021 and, in this interview, she talks about what motivated her to enter the competition and about her plans for the future. You can read Victoria’s essay here. Likewise, Pablo Pastor Vidal was a finalist in 2020, having impressed the jury with his ideas on sustainability and resilience. You can read Pablo’s essay here.

In 2022, it could be you receiving the Youth Essay Competition prize! We will be announcing the competition details soon, so make sure to visit the Promoting Enterprise News Portal regularly and to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

Empowering girls and women in business

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For over a century, March 8th has been seen as a day that holds special meaning for women. On International Women’s Day, we asked ourselves a question: how can we empower girls and women, entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs to be?

This brings us back to one of the workshops that took place during SME Assembly 2021 that was built around this topic and brought to light a number of actions we all can take, no matter our role in the business community.

Here is a list of three simple actions that would help empowering girls and women in business:

I. Promote women entrepreneurs

The data from WEgate, the e-platform launched by the European Commission to support women entrepreneurs across Europe, shows that women need to see examples of other women entrepreneurs, they need to have business models and to find references in which they can recognize themselves, as Eva Merloni, Project Manager at WEgate, told us during the workshop.

II. Support girls and women to enhance their digital and entrepreneurial competences

This will boost their confidence to use those competencies in STEM areas by spotting opportunities, innovating and creating value for society. This will bring a positive impact on the economy by enabling the application of these transversal competences to societal challenges and different economic sectors.

III. Access to finance

Quoting Virginia Woolf who said that in order to become a writer a woman needs a room of her own and 500 pounds, Margherita Bacigalupo, Scientific Officer at Joint Research Centre (JRC) at European Commission’s Science Service, highlighted that women need access to finance and that economic independence is key in the evolution of women entrepreneurs.

This is just a small part of what was discussed during the workshop we mentioned at the beginning of this article, so we invite you to watch the entire session below:

For more information on this topic, please follow the European Commission website, follow Promoting Enterprise News Portal, as well as our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.

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