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The voice of experience: some advice from 2021 YEC winner Kristina Dimova

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The deadline for participating in this year’s SME Week Youth Essay Competition is almost upon us. But don’t worry – you can still enter, so get writing and make sure to submit your entry by September 26. To inspire you, the YEC winners from 2018, 2019 and 2020 have already shared their top tips and today it is the turn of 2021 winner Kristina Dimova, who offers some advice below.

Kristina, who is from Bulgaria, won the 2021 YEC with an essay that highlighted that humanity is the key to sustainability, both when developing a business plan for a small and medium enterprise (SMEs) and when it comes to company management. Kristina has described her participation in the competition as “a moment of pure bliss!” Read on to see what advice she has to give to this year’s participants.

How would you approach this year’s theme?

Energy has proven to be a crucial topic not only for policies in the coming years but also for our everyday lives. I would definitely try to think outside the box as I did in my essay last year and, honestly, as every single winner did in the previous years. For sure, showing examples connected to the problem will help the overall density of the essay – no matter if they are about real start-ups, or if they are focused on an imaginary entrepreneurial solution to the energy problem. However, focusing on a particular storytelling arch will bring out the originality of the idea that the participant is trying to showcase. Therefore, for me, as a representative of Bulgaria – a country that is highly dependent on fossil fuels, I’d probably think how this topic is related to my personal story. I’d ask myself what is important for me as a young person and what are the crucial steps that we have to take for a more sustainable future. However, for sure, all these ideas should be presented with an authentic story. The more authentic, the better.

Why should young people participate in this competition?

The people, the ideas, the future. These are the main pillars of the competition for me. During the Assembly, I had the chance to meet phenomenal people from all over Europe. As I have stated before, a great story can be a real game changer. Each one of these people had a great story to tell and therefore they inspired me to change my personal story arch.

When in Portoroz, I saw once again that ideas are everything, but they can be nothing without execution. All of the people there had their own cause. When you see how all these ideas have developed, that truly motivates you, especially when you are young and you have yet to test your ideas.

When talking about testing, SME Assembly 2021 was all about the future and what we could do to make it better. Lean thinking was key for most of the entrepreneurs that took part in it, and testing and validating during the process was crucial for them. However, when we talk about the future, I must say that there is a special place for youth during the event.

A lot of policymakers and entrepreneurs not only listened to my presentation but also came and talked to me afterward about the ideas I spoke about. I gained more knowledge about entrepreneurship from the event, but not only that – because of my win I was also a speaker during the EU Industry Days 2022 conference. The best is yet to come because I’m about to take the lead position in 9Academy – a platform and business academy for professionals and entrepreneurs in Bulgaria. YEC 2021 was the push for me to see that entrepreneurship is the way for me, and I’m more than grateful for the whole experience.

Do you have any advice for the 2022 competitors?

Be brave. This is the only advice I can give to the competitors. Yes, the topic is important and it can be difficult to write a compelling essay for it. Yes, you might ask yourself – why am I writing something so complex? Because the only competition you have is yourself.

This competition was a way to figure out if I’m capable of showcasing complex ideas in a simple yet compelling way. However, it turned out to be a milestone in my career. Before it, I thought I’m only good at certain skills. Now, after the Assembly, I know that I have a skill set that has been growing after participating in the competition. So, be brave. You have nothing to lose. In addition to the competition, you will for sure win a broader perspective on a topic that is so important that it means everything to our lives.

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.

EEPA 2022 National Winners – Improving the Business Environment and Supporting the Digital Transition

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We have already had a look at the shortlisted projects in Category 1 and Category 2 of this year’s European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). Today we introduce you to the EEPA national winners in Category 3 – Improving the Business Environment and Supporting the Digital Transition. From the total 176 projects that entered the national competitions, 48 have been selected to advance to European stage of the competition, including 10 projects in Category 3.

Category 3 looks to reward innovative projects and solutions that help create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. It also aims to recognize initiatives that support the digitalisation of the European economy. Previous initiatives in this category included projects that support enterprise start-up and growth, or that simplify legislative and administrative procedures for businesses, for example. Let’s see what this year’s shortlist looks like!

  • Austria: Sharpen! Performance, from the Styrian Business Promotion Agency (SFG), aims to activate the regional ecosystem to make Styrian companies fit for international competition in digitisation and internationalisation.
  • Denmark: SME:Digital, from the Danish Business Authority, helps SMEs take advantage of business opportunities in digitalisation, automation and e-commerce, offering online guidance, individual advice, investment support, and skills and leadership development.
  • Germany: Support for the City Centre, from WFB Wirtschaftsförderung Bremen GmbH (WFB), is implementing a specially developed, strategic concept to attract new users and property owners to shape the transformation process of the inner city.
  • Ireland: Enfuse, from Dublin City Council, inspires and fuses local enterprises and MSc. students who directly collaborate, innovate, learn from each other, generating mutual benefits.
  • Lithuania: Sutelktinės paskolos “Avietė”, from UAB Investicijų ir verslo garantijos, Investicijų ir verslo garantijos, Ltd (INVEGA), is enabling SMEs to borrow faster for riskier business projects through crowdfunding platforms.
  • Montenegro: Cooperation for Development of Cross Border Business Environment Enhanced, from Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre Tehnopolis, aims to strengthen the infrastructure and capacity of organisations, to improve services and to support the development of the business environment in the cross-border area.
  • Netherlands: LifeSciences@Work Venture Challenge, from Health-Holland; Topsector LSH, helps life sciences researchers to make an impact by translating their research results into a solid business case that can form the basis for a biotech or medtech start-up.
  • Portugal: – To be announced in September.
  • Serbia: StarTech: Innovation aiming for Stars, from the National Alliance for Local Economic Development (NALED), aims to accelerate the growth of Serbian businesses and foster the transformation from a traditional to a digital economy.
  • Ukraine: Ukrainian national project Diia.Business, from the state institution “Entrepreneurship and Export Promotion Office” (EEPO) is a large-scale national project for the development of entrepreneurship and exports, implemented together with the Ministry of Digital Transformation.

All the EEPA national winners will receive invitations to the Awards Ceremony at the annual SME Assembly in November, where the winners in each category will be announced. This year the event will be co-hosted by the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the European Commission. At the SME Assembly, the jury will also announce the winner of the Jury’s Grand Prize. The winner can be from any category and the prize goes to the entry considered the most creative and inspiring entrepreneurship initiative in Europe.

If you would like to find out more about the European Enterprise Promotion Awards, visit the European Commission website. For the latest updates, visit the Promoting Enterprise News Portal – we  will let you know soon who the winners in the other five categories are so make sure to check in regularly, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter.

Celebrate International Photography Day with a look back to SME Assembly 2021

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It is International Photography Day! As we are counting the days for SME Assembly 2022, we wanted to commemorate the memories from 2021.

What a year! Relive more precious moments here.

Want to make your voice heard? Write!

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Making your voice heard is not all about who can shout the loudest. Writing in a clear and well-thought-out manner is often the best way to make people listen to what you have to say and to get your thoughts out to a wider public. To mark International Youth Day 2022, on the Promoting Enterprise Portal we are looking at how writing can help young people to realise their potential and make a greater impact. Indeed, one way this impact can be made is through the SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2022.

Writing helps young people to develop their own voice and express how they feel on a variety of subjects, which in turn helps to improve their self-expression, boost their self-confidence and become more assertive when expressing their opinions. The writing process makes it easier for people to formulate their thoughts and express them in a logical way, which in turn improves communication skills.

As with most things – practice makes perfect. The more you write, the better your writing skills will become. Writing regularly will help you become more organized in your writing, and in structuring your thoughts. At the same time, your imagination and creativity will improve. Writing gives you the opportunity to review your thoughts, expand your perspective and express yourself in a measured and well-structured manner.

What’s more, writing helps you to speak out on topics that you care about, express what is important to you and get your ideas out there. So, have we convinced you of the benefits of creative writing? If we have, why not try out your writing skills by taking part in this year’s SME Week Youth Essay Competition! The YEC gives 18-25-year-olds a platform to share their ideas with key figures and stakeholders involved in enterprise, entrepreneurship and SMEs.

The YEC 2022 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?

Do you have something interesting to say on this topic? Perhaps you could draw inspiration from the theme of this year’s International Youth Day – Intergenerational solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages – and look at intergenerational approaches to resolving our fossil fuel dependency. Let your imagination run free! All you have to do is write a 2,500-word essay in English on this year’s theme and submit it here or e-mail it to smeweek@loweurope.eu before the deadline of 26 September 2022.

The YEC jury will then select three finalists to attend the SME Assembly in November in Prague, where they will present their essays to the 500+ delegates gathered at the assembly. To help you make the best possible presentation, you will receive training from the YEC team before the event. The winning essay will then be selected in a public vote. The essays of all the finalists will be promoted across EU channels.

It’s time to unleash your inner writer and submit your entry for this year’s competition. Before you start, read through the rules of the competition and please contact smeweek@loweurope.eu if you have any questions.

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.

SME Assembly 2022: Save the date!

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We are back with news on the most significant event for small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe: the SME Assembly. And what better day to announce when this key event will take place if not on the World SME Day?

We are 154 days apart from a 3-day journey on entrepreneurship, economy, policy and innovation. No need to do the math, just make sure to save the date!

This year the event will take place both in Prague, Czech Republic, and online between the 28th and 30th of November. Mark these days in your agenda because we will be getting back to share everything you need to know about the 2022 edition.

Organized together with the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Assembly will feature a mix of high-level panels, expert roundtables, interactive masterclasses and networking opportunities. We will also get to know who will be the winners of this year´s European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA), with one of the most awaited awards ceremony for the SME community taking place during the event.

If you want to quickly take a look at the highlights of the previous edition of the Assembly, feel free to relive the experience with the video below and prepare for what will come later this year!

SME Assembly 2021 Highlights

Updates about the programme and speakers will be announced on the European Commission website, here on the Promoting enterprise news portal and also via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

EEPA 2021 Testimonial – Inkludera by Inkludera

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We continue our conversations with the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2021 winners. Last time we brought you the story of Grand Jury Prize winner COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige by Initiative Selbständiger Immigrantinnen e. V., who was also awarded first prize in Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills category at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards at the SME Assembly 2021.

Today we meet the Responsible and Incusive Entrepreneurship category winner, Inkludera by Inkludera.

Inkludera is supporting social entrepreneurs with unique solutions in order to scale them and make them financially sustainable. To accomplish this, Inkludera supports the entrepreneurs in building partnerships with the public sector. Since 2013 the entrepreneurs Inkludera supports have entered into over 900 partnerships with 108 of Sweden’s municipalities. These partnerships enabled the entrepreneurs to continuously work with 27 200 people in 2020 – addressing several different social issues.

Here is what they shared with us about their experience at the European Promoting Enterprise Awards 2021.

How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?

We are grateful that the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth nominated us, and we chose to enter to honor their trust and belief in us.

How did you prepare your application?

Two persons were involved in drawing up the application, which took 3-4 days in total. We prepared a tailor-made For us, the entrepreneurs that we support are always front and center. We wanted our application to be about them, and to share their stories.

What was it like to win the award?

We were honored and happy and we thank you for the recognition!

How did winning the award impact your work?

The award is a great testament to the work we have been dedicated to during the past decade and of course a motivation going forward.

What are your plans for the future?

Apart from continuous support of our entrepreneurs, we plan to spread our accumulated knowledge and experience of scaling social entrepreneurship to further strengthen the field in Sweden.

Why should others enter EEPA 2022? What advice would you give them?

We believe it’s a great forum for being inspired by other organisations. It’s important to be true to your cause and focused on impact – in your everyday work and in your application.

Do you want to watch other key moments from SME Assembly 2021? Relive the experience below!

Discovering YEC 2021 Finalist Victoria Krah

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“Over the past 1.5 years, the resilience of Europe’s SMEs has been challenged like never
before in recent European history.” This is how the essay that brought Victoria Krah among the finalists in the SME Youth Essay Competition starts.

Today we are finding out more about what motivated Victoria Krah to enter the SME Youth Essay Competition, but also what are her plans for this year. You can read Victoria’s essay here.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

Honestly, the way I stumbled upon the YEC was more or less a coincidence: I was googling for something productive to do, as, due to the pandemic, many of my plans and professional opportunities had been cancelled and I was at that point in time in the process of figuring out what to do. I do enjoy writing and solving and reflecting upon problems, so when I saw the announcement, I though I would give it a try as I had nothing to loose. For this, I would encourage everyone to just give it a try!

What was it like to be announced as a finalist of the 2021 competition?

When I received the email from the SME office in autumn, I thought it was a thank-you-for-your-participation kind of email. It took me actually a couple of hours to reread it and become aware that I was one of the finalists. At first, I was somehow overwhelmed by it, but then it made me very happy obviously. I told my family about it and later on mentioned it to a couple of friends.

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2021?

Sadly, I was only able to attend the SME Assembly in an online format. However, I was very impressed by the organisation and the way the platform worked, which made it very easy to feel included. One can see that the team worked very hard to make it possible- although, unfortunately, I did not get to know fellow finalists Rui and Kristina in person.
If I had to choose one of the many workshops, masterclasses and lectures of this year’s assembly I enjoyed the most, it would probably be the Annual Schumpeter innovation lecture, as it provided a good framework and background knowledge for the rest of the event.

Victoria Krah YEC 2021 Finalist_3

What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2021?

I liked this year’s emphasis on “togetherness”: That, simply put, if we – the EU member states – do not work together, we work against each other. Collaboration is key when tackling bigger hurdles, such as mitigating the economic and social impact of the pandemic and make European economies and societies more resilient and better prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the green and digital transitions particularly.

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

As I actually really enjoy studying and learning, I am currently planning on pursuing a PhD in the field of social sciences, if possible. In particular, I would like to investigate, through a case study, non linear or hybrid wars and the new kinds of (political) weapons being used by some governments in order to disrupt and influence the geopolitical scenario.

See who were her competitors, the other two finalists of this year’s SME Week Youth Essay competition.

Check out the latest news on the SME Assembly and the Youth Essay Competition by regularly visiting the Promoting Enterprise blog. Subscribe to the SME Week Newsletter to stay up to date!

Bulgarian Kristina Dimova wins SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2021

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Kristina Dimova, 22 year-old from Bulgaria, was proclaimed a winner of this year’s SME Week Youth Essay Competition during the SME Assembly 2021.

“Change is inevitable. That’s why businesses must adapt or perish. The way they could adapt is by being as human as possible. The main thesis of my essay is that humanity is the key to sustainability not only for the business plan of the company but in the context of management. However, humanity should be combined with key factors such as digital transformation, ecology, and economic growth.”

This was the focus of Kristina’s winning entry which answer the question: “What do SMEs need to become sustainable and resilient in the context of COVID-19 and other global challenges? Think about the competences and skills needed in the future for an entrepreneur, describe three promising and sustainable start-ups in 2030”.

During the final of the Youth Essay Competition on the third day of the SME Assembly, she also added:

“Crucial to SMEs’ ability to adapt to changing circumstances, will be their willingness to change their management model. Sociocracy would be the “secret ingredient” with four ground rules: consensual decision-making, a hierarchy of circles, double linking between circles, and election of leaders. Sociocracy would also allow businesses to reach the required flexibility to thrive in an ever-changing world.”

The other finalists of this year’s SME Week Youth Essay competition were Victoria Krah, half Spanish, half German, and Rui Teixeira from Portugal.

About Kristina Dimova

Kristina Dimova is currently studying Journalism BA at Sofia University. She had the opportunity to participate in Erasmus+ at the University of Lodz. Her academic interest in journalism continues with her role as a scholar of KAS Media Programme SEE Bulgaria. Her professional interest is connected with her role as an Editor at GoGuide – one of the biggest lifestyle magazines in Sofia – and her experience as a co-founder of Slovo 111 – Youth Media in Bulgaria, which has lasted for a year. She is also part of the team of 9Academy – a business academy for entrepreneurship and personal development as a Content Creator. In the meantime, she works as a Social Media Specialist in a PR agency, in Sofia. She had the chance to see how the European Parliament works as a journalist in a Plenary Session in Strasbourg in 2019. She won a contest for an Essay, held by European Parliament, Bulgaria, and FJMC, Sofia University, and had the chance to be one of the six finalists for the Megalizzi-Niedzielski prize for aspiring journalists, part of the Youth4Regions programme.

Click here to read Kristina’s essay.

Check out the latest news on the SME Assembly and the Youth Essay Competition by regularly visiting the Promoting Enterprise blog. Subscribe to the SME Week Newsletter to stay up to date!

European Enterprise Promotion Awards Class of 2021

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Over the past months, you have followed us as we showcased the best projects in the six European Enterprise Promotion Awards categories here on the Promoting Enterprise portal. The EEPA story of these projects reached its climax on the second day of the SME Assembly on November 16, when the winners in the six categories were announced.

We extend our warmest congratulations to our entire EEPA class of 2021 and in particular to our category champions.

Category 1 – Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Spain: Culinary Action! by Basque Culinary Centre

Category 2  – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills

Germany: COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige by Initiative Selbständiger Immigrantinnen e. V.

Category 3 – Improving the Business Environment & Supporting the Digital Transition

Portugal: Digital Commerce Programme by ACEPI – Digital Economy Portugal in partnership with CCP – Portuguese Commerce and Services Confederation and with Municipal Council of Viana do Castelo

Category 4 – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business

Spain: Iberian Centre for Research and Forest Firefighting – Firefighting Open Innovation Lab-CILIFO (FOIL-CILIFO), Fundación by Delegación Fundación Finnova

Category 5 – Supporting the Sustainable Transition

Slovenia: Green Penguin, Iskraemeco, d.d

Category 6 – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship

Sweden: Inkludera by Inkludera

Grand Jury Prize

Germany: COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige by Initiative Selbständiger Immigrantinnen e. V.

The SME Assembly is not over yet! Make sure to join us for the final day of the Assembly to attend the streamed sessions. You can also follow the live coverage on Twitter @EEPA_EU. Haven’t registered yet? Last minute registrations are still possible but be quick! You can register here.

 

SME Assembly 2021 – Day 1

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The 2021 SME Assembly, the first pan-European post-COVID EC conference to be held in person, is finally underway. The three-day programme, packed with panel discussions, workshops, masterclasses and award ceremonies, got off to a fantastic start on 15 November in the beautiful town of Portorož in Slovenia.

The 3-day event kicked off with a presentation from the Slovenian Digital Center showcasing some of the best and most innovative projects that the Slovenian business sector has to offer. The SME Assembly delegates learnt how the Slovenian companies are tackling the digital transition to ensure continued sustainable and green development.

The highlight of Day 1 was the Schumpeter’ Innovation in Enterprise’ Lecture. For the first time this year, the lecture was delivered by a non-economist. The climate scientist Professor Lučka Kajfež Bogataj delivered the speech in front of hundreds of delegates. As a pioneer in researching the impact of climate change and a joint recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, Professor Bogataj spoke about the effects of climate change on SMEs. She focused on the role of SMEs and enterprises in achieving the transition to a sustainable economy and explained how businesses could prepare and adapt to face climate change. Measuring and managing emissions from onsite operations, powering operations with renewable energy, and demanding more climate policy are some of the actions that SMEs could take to boost their environmental performance. You can find all about Professor Bogataj’s address in a separate blog post.

The opening day of the 2021 SME Assembly ended with the European SME Week Reception, where the Slovenian presidency presented some traditional crafts, arts and cuisine.

Welcoming guests on behalf of the presidency, the Slovenian Envoy Jernej Salecl spoke about the need to put the green economy and digital transformation is at the heart of all strategies for SMEs.

Hubert Gambs, Deputy Director-General at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW), highlighted the need to stay together and be resilient in order to achieve recovery.

What’s in store for Day 2? Follow the live streaming or take a look at the live coverage on Twitter via @EEPA_EU. Remember to use #SMEAssembly2021 to be featured on the feed and check out the photos on Flickr! Haven’t registered yet? Last minute registrations are still possible but be quick! You can register here.

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      Want to know some good news? The deadline for submitting entries to the SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2022 is being extended to October 7! To the early birds who already submitted their applications – thank you and good luck during the selection process! The new deadline extension will give you the time you need to submit […]
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