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 .
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 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 .
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 .
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 .
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 .