In conversation with: 2015 Grand Jury Prize Winner

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.

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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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.