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YEC 2020 – How to write a winning entry

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There is still time to submit your essay to this year’s SME Week Youth Essay Competition. Still a bit stuck? Need some advice? Look no further! Here on the News Portal we have brought together valuable advice from past winners to help you write the best entry you can.

So have a read, think about their advice and don’t forget to submit!

There’s a trick I use whenever I have to write something. I leave my phone and laptop behind and go to the park with a pen and a small notebook. Ideas come when I don’t allow myself to be distracted by other things, and putting pen to paper is an essential first step. Even if you scribble over twenty ideas, or an idea doesn’t work at first, write it all down. Underline each idea, develop it, put it into clearer words. Soon enough, you’ll have a winning essay.

  • Radu Dumitrescu, 2019 winner

My advice is pretty simple: plan ahead! Do not wait till the last days of submission to draft your entry. Remember that the earlier you start planning for and writing your essay, the more time you have to research the topic, structure your thoughts and review the final product. Also, I highly recommend that you give your essay a personal touch – it is ultimately the key to ensuring that your entry stands out above the rest.

  • Marija Elena Borg, 2018 winner

I am convinced that our thoughts influence our actions in a material manner. That is why my advice would be to think practically. Let me demonstrate this. There is a young Ukrainian performing artist that uses the motto “Brave, Love, Freedom”, which I would use in a practical way to prepare my entry.

Let’s take firstly the point “Love” I would interpret it in the following way: look around you, define the persons you care about, think about their needs and what innovative steps are required to improve the lives of your loved ones. Now let us look at “Freedom”: get rid of prejudice; let your critical mind absorb and analyse information around you; be open to any topic no matter if you agree with it or not, because firstly you have to listen to opposing opinions, then gather data and facts about the argument and finally build your own opinion. Finally, “Brave”: do not be afraid to talk with experts about topics like: Innovation, Political and Social strategies, Economics, and Entrepreneurship, do not be intimidated by their experience and look for seminars and conferences at which these topics are discussed. Finally, do not doubt yourself, sit down and write down all of your own ideas, because these ideas will one way or another influence the behaviour and way of thinking of those who will read or listen to them!

  • Oksana Vedminska, 2017 winner

Read more about the 2020 competition here and send any questions about the competition to smeweek@loweurope.eu

YEC 2020 – Top tips with 2019 winner Radu Dumitrescu

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We are back with the winner of the 2019 Youth Essay Competition, Radu Dumitrescu. Here on the News Portal we recently asked Radu how he was doing and what he had been up to since winning. Today we are asking him to tell us what any potential applicant needs to know…what makes a good essay and how to begin to answer the 2020 question.

Who better to ask than someone who has gone through the competition…and won! Radu shared with us how he would approach this year’s tough question and provided some helpful advice for anyone thinking about applying.

How would you approach the 2020 question?

This year, contestants have to answer two questions with which governments all over the world are struggling – how can SMEs succeed during the COVID-19 pandemic and how can the EU help entrepreneurs? The answers to these questions will be of interest to presidents, prime-ministers and business leaders alike. People in these positions already think in a certain way, and this is precisely why it is good to get the fresh perspective of a young European on these issues. We are in an entirely new situation globally, and now is the time for thinking outside the box. I would approach the 2020 question daringly, by trying to look at new ways in which businesses could operate using technology, for example.

Do you have any advice for the 2020 competitors?

There’s a trick I use whenever I have to write something. I leave my phone and laptop behind and go to the park with a pen and a small notebook. Ideas come when I don’t allow myself to be distracted by other things, and putting pen to paper is an essential first step. Even if you scribble over twenty ideas, or an idea doesn’t work at first, write it all down. Underline each idea, develop it, put it into clearer words. Soon enough, you’ll have a winning essay.

So what are you waiting for? Follow Radu’s advice, put pen to paper and don’t forget to submit. You can find all of the details of the 2020 competition here and send any additional questions you might have to smeweek@loweurope.eu or leave us a comment on any of the Youth Essay Competition posts.

YEC 2020 – Catching up with 2019 winner Radu Dumitrescu

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Today on Promoting Enterprise we are catching up with last year’s Youth Essay Competition winner, Radu Dumitrescu. Since winning last year’s competition with his speech on the paradox of the European Union, as both a daring project but constricted by regulation and jurisdiction, he has been working on his doctorate degree, working for his university’s academic journal and working on some other very exciting projects.

What have you been doing since winning the Youth Essay Competition?

Since I won the Youth Essay Competition in Helsinki in November, I’ve continued to work in two domains close to my heart – civil society and academia. I’ve taken up a role as Editorial Assistant for my university’s academic journal, Studia Politica, and I’ve kept up my job of monitoring the statements of Romanian politicians, and fact-checking them together with my colleagues at Funky Citizens. Right now Romania is struggling to cope with the COVID-19 crisis while also heading into local elections, followed by parliamentary elections, so it’s an active time for NGOs that work in the field of politics.

What was the best part about entering the Youth Essay Competition?

I’m not usually the heart of any social event and I can’t say that travelling is my passion – I know, sounds like blasphemy from the part of a European in his 20s. However, the best part about entering the competition was that I got to meet so many wonderful people and to travel to a country like Finland, taking in another magical part of Europe. The weather might have been cold, but the warmth that I received from the team of organisers, from my fellow contestants, and from everyone that I met during the SME Week. It was truly a heart-warming experience. 

What did you learn from the Youth Essay competition experience?

Probably the main takeaway from my experience as a participant in the competition was that I have the ability to make my voice heard. It’s really no small thing to step outside one’s comfort zone and say something, write something, stand for something or to express an opinion, especially when the subject is one that affects so many people, such as markets and entrepreneurship in Europe. My essay did not have a grand, revolutionary idea and it didn’t propose major changes. Instead, I wrote about the gratitude that we all owe to Europe’s small business owners and how we should help them not only survive, but thrive. I had many doubts after I submitted my essay and you can feel really small before you take that first step, but after that it gets easier. You learn a lot about yourself when you step on a stage in front of a crowd.

Last time we spoke you told us about your doctoral degree at the University of Bucharest, how is it going?

Writing my doctoral dissertation has been like trying to find my way from point A to point B in a giant metropolis by relying on maps written by others and by asking around a lot, and then towards the end it seems that no one knows what the right path is. I should say that I’m studying the discourse of populist politicians in the United States and Europe and how they interact. No doctoral student will say that pursuing their degree is easy, but I still get excited like a child when I discover something. I can’t wait to have something new to say, to break theoretical ground in one direction and be able to explain a fraction of contemporary European politics.

Do you have any other exciting projects that you would like to share?

Stuck in the house, I’ve been reading and writing a lot. I had amassed quite a lot of books that I intended to read prior to this period, so I’ve taken my time with them in quarantine, reviewing many of them on my IG page. When it comes to writing, it is my doctoral dissertation that takes up most of my time, of course. Right now I’m looking at how the discursive practices of British politicians led to them influencing one another, particularly focusing on the figure of Nigel Farage.

My other project is where I am having more fun, however. Simply put, I’m trying to write a book about one of my Erasmus+ experiences, what I learned, what I felt and how it changed my world. A book for young Europeans, encouraging them to participate in Erasmus projects. Writing a book is a dream of mine and hopefully one day I’ll see my name in a library somewhere.

Congratulations Radu on everything you have achieved so far and good luck with your dissertation and book!

Could you be like Radu? Could you win the next Youth Essay Competition? Don’t forget to apply for this year’s competition and stay tuned to the News Portal for some tips and tricks from Radu on how to write a winning entry…

Why should I enter the 2020 SME Week Youth Essay Competition?

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On 17 July 2020, the European Commission launched the 5th edition of the SME Week Youth Essay Competition. The competition is open to 18-25 year olds from EU & COSME countries and is an opportunity to make your voice heard and share your opinion with key policy makers and stakeholders involved with European enterprise, entrepreneurship and innovation.

More information on this year’s edition is available here.

This year applicants should write an essay answering the following question:

What do SMEs need to become sustainable and resilient, in the context of COVID-19 and other global challenges? How can EU policy best aid entrepreneurs?

If you are interested in expressing your opinion and submitting an answer to this year’s question, you have until 18 September 2020.

If you are still thinking about whether or not to apply for this competition, we encourage you to read through what last year’s winner Radu Dumitrescu, and his fellow finalists Estelle Beuve, Aureliano Ulndreaj, and Enzo Ercole Ribagnac, had to say about their reasons for entering.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

I entered the Youth Essay Competition in order to reignite a few ideas, namely that European business leaders deserve the respect of the Union. I wanted to advocate for a more united approach towards companies in Europe as part of my vision of a European Federation, and I wanted to make my voice heard.

I was just finishing my European voluntary service, at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Moldova, when I heard about the SME Assembly. I wanted to be a part of it and felt I had something to contribute, so I applied. I have a background in economics and accounting and want to use that to pave the way towards a greener economy. Specifically my vision of a greener economy is one that motivates companies to take the lead in reducing their carbon footprint rather than the green washing that is so common when you read any CSR report. 

I was intrigued by the essay topic. Being a student of political science, the format of the essay (a political speech) made it a very attractive opportunity for me to test my abilities. I also saw this competition as a very interesting challenge, as I was not very familiar with the field of SMEs. However I believe that the unknown (in this case the field of SMEs) is always worth exploring.

Several factors influenced my entry in the competition. When I first saw the advert, I was an intern in a European project funded by the DG Grow and related to SMEs. This experience helped me to accumulate a lot of knowledge concerning European SMEs struggles in Europe and abroad. After the internship I moved to Italy during the summer to study Italian. This gave me plenty of time to think about my essay, use the knowledge I had accumulated but also try to include my personal experience. Both my parents are small entrepreneurs in the French West Indies and their business is often part of our family’s discussions. All things considered, I think I entered the competition because I had a lot to say and time to work on a submission that I was proud of and that reflected my opinion and ideas.

For any questions on the SME Week Youth Essay competition, contact smeweek@loweurope.eu and read the 2020 competition launch post for all of the information on this year’s edition. Good luck and don’t forget to submit!

Young voices, innovative ideas – Meet Youth Essay Competition winner Radu

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Time to meet the winner of the 2019 Youth Essay Competition…Radu Dumitrescu! Radu was chosen as the winner of the 2019 edition of the Youth Essay Competition during the finals which took place at the 2019 SME Assembly held in Helsinki, Finland.

In Radu’s speech that he submitted in Round 1, he demonstrated a keen understanding of the make-up of Europe’s economy, citing the traditional SME definition which goes up to 250 persons employed, as only being representative of 0.2% of the SMEs in Europe’s economy. He highlighted that a far greater number are micro enterprises, and thus are unable to influence through media connections or pressure governments on vital policy. Radu took a firm stance in his speech, presenting the Commissioner role as one that should support and advocate for all types of SMEs and encourage them to step outside of the box in order to foster a ‘Silicon Europe’ for 2030.

Read Radu’s speech here.

After successfully communicating his passion and drive during Round 1, the jury wanted to hear more of his ideas and chose him as one of their Top 10 submissions to compete in Round 2. In Round 2 Radu spoke of the paradox of the European Union, as both a daring project but constricted by regulation and jurisdiction. He touched upon the importance of incentives for SMEs and creating a nurturing environment for “the lungs of the European economy”, and ensuring “that they  grow, not perish”.

Read Radu’s second submission here.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

I entered the Youth Essay Competition in order to reignite a few ideas, namely that European business leaders deserve the respect of the Union. I wanted to advocate for a more united approach towards companies in Europe as part of my vision of a European Federation, and I wanted to make my voice heard. 

How did you feel when you found out that you were going to Helsinki?

I felt extremely excited! I had never been to Scandinavia, nor had any member of my immediate family, so my excitement was doubled by that of my parents. I have to admit that flying is a personal fear for me, but I couldn’t let that get in the way of this wonderful opportunity.

What was it like to be announced as the winner of the competition?

As I saw it, by the morning of the speech I had already won. I got to visit Finland and the magical atmosphere of Helsinki near Christmas and I had the opportunity to meet wonderful people from all around the continent, most of all my fellow finalists, with whom I made friends immediately. It was a complete surprise, and I was glad to be able to make my University, my fellow Young European Federalists and my family proud. 

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2019?

The SME Assembly was unlike anything I’ve ever attended. Maybe the only comparison I can think of is the European Week of Regions and Cities in Brussels, which I had the honour of attending in 2018. In Brussels and in Helsinki I felt the same energetic vibe, the same multilingual, multicultural environment that enriches Europe culturally – and economically – every day. The hotel was stunning as well, and everyone was helpful and friendly.

What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2019?

My main takeaway from the Assembly was the confirmation of something I already intuitively knew – that Europe is populated by extraordinary business leaders, innovators, and that EU, through its representatives, DGs and agencies, is listening to them. It even listened to a 24-year old from Romania when it came to the future of business in Europe. It is fresh ideas – they are what businesses depend on, and the SME Assembly managed to gather so many of them.

What is next for you? Any exciting plans to share?

I am now pursuing a doctoral degree in the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Bucharest. I plan to read and write as much as I can and hopefully publish papers and even books within the field. That’s my dream. 

Congratulations Radu for winning the 2019 SME Week youth Essay Competition! Don’t forget to read our interviews with Radu’s fellow finalists Aureliano, Enzo and Estelle, to follow their journeys through the 2019 competition.

Romanian Radu Dumitrescu wins SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2019

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Radu Dumitrescu, 24 year-old from Romania, was proclaimed a winner of this year’s SME Week Youth Essay Competition during the European Commission’s SME Assembly.

Radu Dumitrescu is one of the Editors-in-Chief of The New Federalist web magazine. He has a Master’s in Comparative Politics and is interested in voter behaviour, European affairs, and corporate personhood.

In his speech as potential EU Commissioner for SMEs and Entrepreneurship he said: “So, what is our goal? To put the new industries at the heart of European SMEs – to create ‘Silicon Europe’. We can no longer afford to linger in coal, petrol, manufacturing jobs, farming and hard labour. They cannot be abandoned either, but the way to the future is through the digital, the online, the streaming and the virtual. That is where the state of the future will be, where voters will have their say, where poets will forge their dreams and where love will take hold of couples. But first, it is where money will be made – and European SMEs will pioneer the way during my term.”

The other finalists of this year’s SME Week Youth Essay competition were:

  • Enzo Ercole Ribagnac (France)
  • Estelle Beuve (France)
  • Aureliano Ulndreaj (Albania)

The four finalists presented their speeches on the stage of the SME Assembly in Helsinki.  This was followed by a live vote from the audience to determine the winner.

The SME Week Youth Essay competition, run by the European Commission, is in its fourth edition.  This year the competition asked young people aged from 18-25 to prepare a speech from the perspective of the new Commissioner for SMEs and Entrepreneurship addressed to Europe’s entrepreneurs. Entries were received from 20 different countries, with the top two being Albania and Romania, followed closely by Italy, Greece, Turkey and Ukraine . The top 10 applicants then had to propose concrete measures and initiatives that could benefit from the application of the ‘Think Small First Principle’.

Read Radu’s Submissions:

Read Enzo’s Submissions:

Read Aureliano’s Submissions:

Read Estelle’s Submissions:

More information on the Youth Essay Competition is available here.

About the SME Assembly

The SME Assembly is the annual flagship event of the European SME Week and is hosted by the current European Commission presidency. This year the Assembly was hosted by the Finnish Presidency of the European Commission in Helsinki on 25–27 November 2019. Delegates from across the world came together to hack policy, discuss enterprise and create the governance structure of the Small Business Act.

Watch the SME Assembly 2019 highlights:

SME Week Youth Essay Competition – Who is going to Helsinki?

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The 2019 Youth Essay Competition jury have decided who will be going to Helsinki to give their speech in front of the SME Assembly 2019 delegates. After much discussion and debate our jury narrowed it down to their Top 4 finalists and would like to congratulate:

  • Enzo Ercole Ribagnac
  • Radu Dumitrescu
  • Estelle Beuve
  • Aureliano Ulndreaj

Well done to our finalists! Read through their short biographies and speech summaries below and get ready to watch them compete at this year’s Assembly for the chance to be the 2019 SME Week Youth Essay competition winner.

Enzo Ercole Ribagnac

A French student passionate about the economy and issues related to SMEs, particularly issues related to internationalisation.

“Setting up an organization by taking risks in the hope of profits and results that we know will bring something new to the world”. This sentence could be either the definition of entrepreneurship or a short summary of the European Union construction. Indeed, coming from a family of entrepreneurs, I have recently been amused about how the life of entrepreneurs can be similar to European history. Like every success story, it all started with a great idea of a few that decided to put their qualities together and realize something greater. You entrepreneurs call them “founders” I call them “founding members”.

Read Enzo’s Submissions:

Radu Dumitrescu

Radu Dumitrescu is one of the Editors-in-Chief of The New Federalist web magazine. Radu has a Master’s in Comparative Politics and is interested in voter behaviour, European affairs, and corporate personhood.

So, what is our goal? To put the new industries at the heart of European SMEs – to create ‘Silicon Europe’. We can no longer afford to linger in coal, petrol, manufacturing jobs, farming and hard labour. They cannot be abandoned either, but the way to the future is through the digital, the online, the streaming and the virtual. That is where the state of the future will be, where voters will have their say, where poets will forge their dreams and where love will take hold of couples. But first, it is where money will be made – and European SMEs will pioneer the way during my term.

Read Radu’s Submissions:

Aureliano Ulndreaj

From a young age I had a distinctive curiosity for subjects related to politics due to the fact that politics are based on human relations and how the living standards of people can be improved from an economic and social perspective. Thus, I decided to engage in politics through my studies, and do a BA in Political Science and International Relations. Throughout my studies I had the opportunity to carry out and participate in different research projects with a focus on regional relations in the Balkans and Albania’s Integration process to the European Union. My main aspiration is to become active in politics and specifically have the privilege to be part of the group of people who will accompany and lead Albania to its long waiting destination, the European Union family.

My speech is focused on two leading factors. The first is to present the most integral areas which need an immediate improvement in order to raise the standards of EU entrepreneurship. The second is the presentation of my personal, strong motivation and belief that EU entrepreneurs have what it takes to succeed in this field and compete with the rest of the world. The messages derived from this speech are firstly to inform that the solutions to the issue of entrepreneurship will be discovered only by an intensive and truthful desire of the policy-makers to understand the challenges that EU entrepreneurs face in their ventures. Secondly, my message to the entrepreneurs themselves is to be courageous, take risks, have faith in themselves and their ideas and most importantly to not give up on their dreams and aspirations, no matter the objections.

Read Aureliano’s Submissions:

Estelle Beuve

I’m Estelle Beuve I’ve been aware of European issues since I started to get involved with the Young European Federalists (JEF Europe) in 2016. When I was studying my Bachelor in Accounting and Management at Saint-Brieuc I started a mandate as a treasurer of Les Jeunes Européens Rennes. I helped the organisation find new partnerships with local institutions and started helping to raise awareness on the European Union in schools within their programme Europe at school. A year later, I became president of the association and launched a twinning with a local section in Aarhus, Denmark. In July 2018, we visited them to exchange our best practices. Once done with the bachelor, I wanted to go for a gap year and I decided to move to Chisinau, Moldova. As a European Voluntary service I worked for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Moldova from October 2018 to June 2019 where I had the opportunity to promote European projects and learn both Romanian and Russian. Now I’m about to start my Masters in Strasbourg and I would like to become a chartered accountant and auditor.

I’ve imagined the next commissioner for SMEs and entrepreneurship taking into consideration the current environmental issues by offering a better set up for SMEs in Europe. For this, they introduce a new programme and will do their best to put forward legislative reforms so that “sustainable entrepreneurs” can be competitive in an open market context. Moreover, they pledge to bridge the gender gap in Europe as it is still deep by making clear that women are also the sustainable entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

Read Estelle’s Submissions:

For more information on the Youth Essay Competition have a look at this year’s Top 10 and the 2019 competition launch.

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