We are back with another European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) winner testimonial! Last time we brought you the story of the first category ‘Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit’ – Culinary Action! by Basque Culinary Centre from Spain.
Today we are bringing the story of Grand Jury Prize winner COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige  by Initiative Selbständiger Immigrantinnen e. V. was also awarded first prize in Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills category at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards at the SME Assembly 2021.
COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige, which is supported by the non-profit association Initiative Selbständiger Immigrantinnen (ISI), supports migrant women with training and professional development, providing them with the skills they need to become self-employed. By providing free training, coaching and networking opportunities, both migrant women who are willing to start a business and those who are already self-employed, are enabled to put business ideas into practice and sustainably build up their own business start-ups in Berlin. The project is guided by the principle that migrant women stand up for migrant women.
Here is what they shared with us about their experience at the European Promoting Enterprise Awards 2021.
How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?
We decided to enter the EEPA 2021 upon invitation of the RKW Kompetenzzentrum, which conducts the German preliminary round of the competition. The program’s features caught our attention immediately, and we believed it was worth applying with our project “COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige”.
How did you prepare your application?
Two persons were involved in drawing up the application, which took 3-4 days in total. We prepared a tailor-made application, which not only included the general information about our project but also hard facts about its achievements and success during the last years. For example, we have provided information about the number of women attending our qualification offers and the variety of their individual features and needs, as well as concerning the increase of their individual skills progress, in terms of technical, methodological, social and personal competence. Moreover, we supplied a detailed description of the innovative traits of the project and our plans for further development in the next future.
What was it like to win the award?
If winning the award in the category “Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills” has been a big surprise on its own, the “Grand Jury Prize” came totally unexpected. It was an unbelievable, overwhelming feeling. It was such an honour to represent our team on stage and be able to dedicate the awards to all brave and amazing migrant women founders, who are the soul of our organization. We felt very proud of all of them and of our achievements. This international recognition is not only a point of arrival for us, yet most and foremost, a new starting point to grow and reach new goals.
As a project team, we are aware of carrying a big responsibility for all migrant women. As we won the award, I immediately experienced a feeling of relief. I thought, “okay, we are not alone in this. We now carry this responsibility, even at a European level, together with all stakeholders.”
How did winning the award impact your work?
Winning the awards had great resonance among our participants and partner organizations. We have received many congratulations and encouraging messages. Some magazines have reported about us.
But most important is that we make the most of the awards and their prestige in order to further promote the offers of the “COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige” and reach even more migrant women, to foster them on their way to self-employment. Thanks to years of fieldwork, we know exactly what the needs and wishes of our target group are and have the right know-how and solutions to support them in realizing their business ideas. The potential is huge. And our big success at the award ceremony gave us an extra boost to get the most out of our service for women entrepreneurs.
That’s why we are looking for the necessary financial and personal resources to achieve these goals. Any kind of support from concerned associations, foundations and authorities will be very valuable to us.
What are your plans for the future?
Our goal now is to make our qualification model for migrant women entrepreneurs known throughout Germany and, in the medium term, internationally. Where necessary, we also would like to improve and further develop our approach.
At this point, we primarily want to support refugee women, especially in their mother tongue, as well as migrant women in the pre-founding phase and those in the post-start-up phase. For these three target groups, we would like to implement specific demand-based concepts. Some pilot projects have already been carried out.
Fortunately, in 2022 our project will keep on receiving funds from ESF and the State of Berlin. Nevertheless, we believe that we could also consider further funding opportunities for the various concepts and different target groups. Only in the last three years, more than 600 participants have been registered in our database. These women still expect and need our help in order to have better opportunities to gain a professional foothold in Germany.
Winning the EEPA-Award allows us to hope for growth, and we want to take this opportunity now.
Why should others enter EEPA 2022? What advice would you give them?
The EEPA is a great chance to make your project more visible and cooperate with other organizations to spread information about your successful work. It gives you the possibility to present your project as a model, both at the national and international level and, ultimately, to reach your goals for a larger community all over Europe. Applying is definitely worth a try.
Do you want to watch other key moments from SME Assembly 2021? Relive the experience below!