The voice of experience: some wise words from 2020 YEC winner Sabine Kerssens

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We have already had some top tips from the winners of the 2018 editions of the SME Week Youth Essay Competition. Today, 2020 YEC winner Sabine Kerssens shares her wisdom, enabling this year’s entrants to benefit from her experience. If you are considering entering this year’s competition, perhaps Sabine can give you some inspiration, but make sure to submit your entry by the deadline of September 26.

Sabine impressed the competition jury with her ideas about the importance of cross-border collaboration and how learning from different cultures makes innovation more inclusive. Below, she has some tips on how to approach this year’s challenge and gives some advice to participants. Read on to see what she has to say!

How would you approach this year’s theme?

The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an immense challenge to achieve because the many stakeholders all have incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements. People adapt, our economy adapts, and innovative entrepreneurs are closest to the scene. When I wrote about innovations contributing to a sustainable energy future in the past, I had not anticipated the emergency we are in today.

However, our entrepreneurs are already out there and adapting. I hope future essay writers will write about that adaptability. This year’s theme has three key ingredients: European economies, high dependency, and fossil fuel energies. To steer away from an unsustainable economy, one of the three needs to change, or perhaps all three of them. So what is it that we can adapt? I would approach this year’s theme with my hopes for a fair economy, fair for us and for the planet. I would continue by thinking about what entrepreneurs could change to help achieve this. In addition, bonus question: What do these entrepreneurs need from policy makers to think, dream and build big?

Why should young people participate in this competition?

Dear future writers, you have a voice worth listening to. Please speak up! Sometimes the brightest ideas don’t make an impact simply because they are not heard by decision makers. You can imagine, that some ideas don’t leave their social bubble. Recently a campaign went viral, because “In the Netherlands, there are more CEOs called “Peter” than female CEOs”. Like this, the voices of Peters might seem louder than yours, even when they shouldn’t. What if this Peter hadn’t seen your latest TikTok on climate change? Can they really represent your community? Take this platform offered to you, to help spark innovative ideas today. I know it made a difference in how far my ideas traveled, I hope it will for you too (even if you’re called Peter).

Do you have any advice for the 2022 competitors?

Take your time. Read old essays, see what still sticks some days later. It might be their key message, the structure of their arguments, their tone of voice, or anything else. Practice what you think captures your idea best, and most of all: keep your audience in mind! Easy right? So just enter! We promise that we won’t grade you. You can’t fail this class. You can only learn from it. Cheesy, I know, but it’s true. Oh, and possibly you will win a great experience. Dream big!

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.