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Tag ‘Andri Pandoura’

Meeting the voices of tomorrow – Youth Essay Competition winner Andri Pandoura

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Are you ready to meet the winner of the Youth Essay Competition? At only 16 she is challenging us all to reconsider our thoughts on youth entrepreneurship and the opportunities offered to the younger generations to make their voices heard at the European level. Please welcome Andri Pandoura!

Andri is currently studying in her native Cyprus, but has already developed a keen interest in youth and human rights. She has further developed this interest through her membership of the Cyprus children’s parliament and plans to take it further by studying human rights law at university. Today she shares with us what drove her to participate, her thoughts on presenting at the SME Assembly 2016, where she sees the future of entrepreneurship and finally her words of wisdom for other ambitious young people.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

I saw it as an opportunity to write about my interest in youth rights and voice my opinions as a young person in Europe. There is a lot of over complication, so my idea was to take a simple, even childlike approach to this topic and think about all the small steps that can lead us to something bigger. In general there are not many opportunities for those of us under 18 to participate in such competitions so I think that every time there is an opportunity like this one we should take it!

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What did you think about the SME Assembly 2016?

I thought it was amazing and the ‘opportunity of a lifetime’. There was such a welcoming atmosphere and I got to speak to and interact with inspiring people who did not care that I was 16. Initially I thought that the presentation would be stressful, and honestly I was stressing about it since I found out, I thought I might even faint on stage. In the end though all the staff and other speakers really helped me to relax and feel comfortable and I just did it. I think the assembly is a great initiative as well as the competition itself and really hope it continues again next year so that others can have the same opportunity to make their voices heard.

Looking 10 years ahead from now, in 2026, what do you think entrepreneurship will be?

I don’t believe that the actual definition of entrepreneurship will change, but it will become more accessible and anyone will be able to become an entrepreneur. I hope that there will be cross-generational cooperation as we have a lot to learn from each other and this can contribute to a constant flow of innovation and ideas. Education will also continue to play a big role 10 years from now, and it will develop alongside the advancement of technology. I think entrepreneurs will be coming up with things we can’t even begin to imagine!

Alongside this I think there will be a focus on working with clients to give them what they want, for example, working with students to see what it is they want and need for their education. This in turn will hopefully lead to an increase in the number of start-ups, particularly youth ones. Start-up and SME culture will have developed and we will see more support in the form of bodies, panels and organisations designed to foster entrepreneurship.

I want to take this opportunity to say to other young people that you should not be afraid of actually trying, and that if you fail then just try again. Winning this competition has made such a difference and given me such an amazing platform which has led to other opportunities. I would not be able to say I’ve been invited to attend a session of the European Economic and Social Forum in Brussels as the guest of Cypriot delegation if I had not entered this competition, so I wanted to say thank you and encourage everyone to take all the opportunities available to you.

Read Andri’s entry here.

SME Assembly 2016 – Day 3

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That’s a wrap! The SME Assembly 2016 has come to an end after 3 days of networking, events, speeches, awards, masterclasses and most importantly bringing together people who value entrepreneurship and the creation of an SME friendly Europe.

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A look at where the world of entrepreneurship would be ‘Ten Years On’ was the opener for Friday, with delegates imagining what kind of world entrepreneurs, startups, scaleups and all those in between would encounter in 2026. The panelists included a range of experts from across Europe and industries, including: Michael Mellinghoff (TechFluence), Cristina Fernandez (Global Entrepreneurship Network), Ladislav Ambrovics (MINIT Slovakia) and Kenneth Ryan (KPMG Slovakia). They all shared their visions of entrepreneurship in 2026, with a common theme being a shift in entrepreneurial focus from solving an existing problem, to enhancing the customer experience. As part of the opening, Youth Essay Competition winner Andri Pandoura presented her winning entry and implored the audience to “Don’t only work for youth, but work with them. Ask them for their opinion and show you care”.

The fast paced and high energy programme from Days 1 and 2 continued on Day 3 with an array of masterclasses and policy sessions, covering topics from social enterprise to crowdfunding, from sustainable clothing to virtual reality. There was also the Scale Up Lab organised by Ideas From Europe, which challenged participants to form clusters on issues affecting scaleups. For pictures of these sessions have a look at the albums on Flickr!

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Then it was finally time for the SME Assembly 2016 to draw to a close. Costas Andropoulos, from DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, along with Sabine Soeder the Founder of CoCreative Flow, presented the conclusions and highlights of the Assembly. We were then treated to a sneak preview of what to expect next year, as the Estonian SME Envoy Viljar Lubi took the stage to get us ready and excited for the 2017 SME Assembly set to take place in Tallinn!

Thank you to everyone that joined us this year in Bratislava, and to all who couldn’t be there but followed our coverage, we hope you enjoyed it all and we look forward to seeing you in Estonia in 2017! 

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SME Assembly 2016 – Get ready for Wednesday!

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The wait is almost over! The SME Assembly 2016 is taking place in Bratislava on 23-25 November, 2016. Around 600 delegates will be present, including experts and entrepreneurs from across Europe with a common goal to collaborate on helping European enterprises strive and scale up in Europe and beyond.

The event will kick off with the Business Tours and the European SME Week Reception, both hosted by the Slovak Presidency. Harvard Professor Philippe Aghion will also be speaking during the invitation-only Schumpeter Lecture.

The second day of the Assembly will include keynote addresses by EU SME Envoys and European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elżbieta Bieńkowska. After that – Get in the Ring! As part of the Global Startup competition entrepreneurs will have to face off in a pitching competition in a real boxing ring to convince, persuade and present their visions to a jury. The day will culminate in the presentation of the nominees and announcement of the winners in the EEPA Awards, followed by a gala dinner. Have a look at the EEPA shortlist to find out who the 2016 candidates are!

Friday will begin by celebrating the EEPA’s tenth birthday. The session Ten Years On will be dedicated to predictions on how the world of SMEs, start-and scale-ups will look like in 2026. The winner of the Youth Essay Competition, Andri Pandoura, will present her prize-winning entry and her views on what the EU can do to encourage youth entrepreneurship. The rest of the day, participants will have the opportunity to participate and collaborate during the many policy sessions, workshops and master classes.

Want more details? Download the programme here. With seminars, pitch battles, an exhibition and so much more, this event is one to look forward to!

Youth Essay Competition – Final results

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Youth-banner--blog-600x150The results of the European SME Week Youth Essay Competition are in!

After careful deliberation by the judges, lengthy discussions have been had and the decision has been made.

This competition was created because we wanted to know what the young people of Europe think about entrepreneurship and the opportunities available to them in their country, and the wider European Union. The responses came from across Europe and not only did they give insight into the original question, but also what is on the minds of young people in Europe today.

Life is changing fast, and they are aware that in order to keep up they too will have to change. As one participant put it: “The ‘good old days’ mentality of getting an education and landing a steady job at a big company is over”, this reflects their view of education, that it is not designed to help meet the challenges of the present but is rather based on successful models of the past. This ties into their feelings on how they are perceived, with one essayist writing: “Even if we are young it does not mean we are stupid. It does not mean we are immature. We have a lot to offer if only you give us the chance”. They are realistic, demonstrating an understanding of the media and the tendency to feature the unicorns and multi million euro successes. One contestant wrote that “there is no need for a gigantic one-billion-dollar idea or a perfect professional business plan in order to successfully start up a business”; in other words , investment is not the only measure of success.

The variety of nationalities represented by the candidates was an early indicator of the importance placed on multilingualism and openness, a common theme throughout the essays, the authors of which recognised the importance of English for business alongside other languages on their path to success. In terms of the barriers faced, ‘red tape’ and bureaucracy are things they are aware of and frustrated by. These need to be addressed urgently. Coupled with these is the fear of failing, with one writing “we are full of energy and ideas but often lack the experience, skills and expertise to implement our plans successfully”. They need reassurance that failure is not the end of the world and that it can often signal the starting point for greater success.

It is now time for us to reveal the winner:

Congratulations to Andri Pandoura!

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Andri is a member of the Cyprus Children’s Parliament and has already developed an interest in human rights and advocating, which she plans to pursue in future by studying law and embarking on a career in human rights law.

The very close runners up are:

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  • Katie Williams, a multilingual young worker from the UK currently working in the field of International Trade.
  • Francesco Foglia, an Italian journalist in European Affairs currently studying a Masters in Business Administration.
  • Frici Barabas, a Romanian entrepreneur with an online business who also teaches others how to succeed in the professional online world.

Congratulations to all our finalists and be sure to stay tuned to find out more about them in forthcoming posts! We would also like to congratulate all those who submitted an essay as the standard was very high and the final results very close.

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