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SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2020 – 5th edition launch

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Do you have an opinion on the role that entrepreneurs can play in reshaping our future economy? Perhaps you have interesting ideas about what the EU needs to do to help entrepreneurs? Then this is the opportunity for you!

The SME Week Youth Essay Competition is launching for the fifth time with a brand new question for the youth of Europe to answer:

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?

The Youth Essay competition is organised by the European Commission Directorate General for Single Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, and is an opportunity for 18-25 year olds to share their ideas and viewpoints with key figures and stakeholders in the spheres of enterprise, entrepreneurship and SMEs.

Sound like an opportunity for you? All you need to do to have a chance at winning an all-expenses paid trip to the SME Assembly 2020 in Berlin is to submit your essay of no more than 2 500 words in English, before 18 September 2020.

Make sure to read through the rules, contact smeweek@loweurope.eu if you have any questions, and to SUBMIT before the deadline!

Rules

  • The competition is open to all 18 to 25 year olds from European Member States or COSME partners countries (see the list)
  • Essays should not exceed 2 500 words in length
  • All essays must be in English
  • Only one entry per applicant
  • The deadline for submissions is 18 September 2020
  • The three finalists will be announced in October ahead of SME Week and will compete at a grand finale in Berlin as part of the SME Assembly, where they will present their essays
  • The final winner will be chosen via a public vote

Prize

  • An all-expenses paid trip to the SME Assembly in Berlin, Germany for the three finalists, to present their essays to 500+ Assembly delegates
  • Presentation training before delivering essay live on stage at the SME Assembly 2020
  • Promotion of essays across our communication channels

See Youth Essay Competition 2020 Terms and Conditions.

Follow us for competition updates on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and be sure to follow and use the hashtag #YEC2020.

Young voices, innovative ideas – Meet Youth Essay Competition finalist Estelle

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We are back with another SME Week Youth Essay competition finalist! This time we spoke to Estelle Beuve from France about her experience entering and placing in the top 4 of the 2019 competition.

In her speech Estelle demonstrated her passion for speaking out about climate change and the impacts that this is having on both our planet, industry and the way we consume. She highlighted the issue with multinationals adopting the Producing more To Earn more principle and the devasting effects of planned obselenece. In response to this she proposed a new initiative under the new commission, “Companies for a sustainable future”.

Read Estelle’s speech here.

Estelle caught the jury’s attention in Round 1, landing herself on the Top 10 shortlist and a space to compete in Round 2 of the 2019 competition. In her Round 2 submission she explained the need to apply the “Think Small First Principle” when dealing with SMEs, specifically touching upon the need to remove red tape for SMEs in order to allow them to innovate. She also referenced the European private company status from 2008, calling it a step in the right direction and something to build on further.

Read Estelle’s second submission here.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

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.  

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

I was very surprised as the process was both very long and competitive. I didn’t expect to reach the final step – going to Finland! I was very glad to be one of the finalists of the Youth Essay Competition and I didn’t hesitate to skip classes to get there.

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2019?

The SME Assembly is all about exchanging new ideas that will shape tomorrow’s economy. We dealt with so many different topics in 3 days, among them many topical issues on which I was really eager to have a better understanding. After the Assembly I came back home to Strasbourg with a sense of achievement both personally and professionally.  

What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2019?

The most important thing that I took away was that we should not give up on containing global warming, and this can be done by helping our SMEs. It might be hard and there will be hurdles in our way but I’m sure it is feasible if we give to companies the right incentives to fight global warming at the European level. That is what the New Green Deal pledged by the European Commission is all about.

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

I’m back studying in Strasbourg for a Master’s degree in accounting and management and I’m looking forward to writing my final thesis on the Comprehensive Accounting in Respect of Ecology model. I really wish that companies could be more accountable for their greenhouse gas emissions than they have been in the past. We have already seen how ineffective CO2 quotas are and we have to urge companies to take a greener path with new mechanisms that haven’t been explored yet. 

Congratulations Estelle on being a 2019 finalist and for sharing your passion for fighting climate change with us at the SME Assembly and through your submissions. Don’t forget to read our interviews with the other two 2019 finalists Aureliano and Enzo to get an insight into the competition.

Want to hear from the 2019 winner? Come back to the News Portal next week to find out what our 2019 winner has to say…stay tuned!

Young voices, innovative ideas – Meet Youth Essay Competition finalist Enzo

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We are back with another SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2019 finalist! Today we are speaking to Enzo Ercole Ribagnac from France, who made himself stand out to the jury with his 1st submission that detailed the speech he would give as the new EU Commissioner for SMEs and Entrepreneurship.

In his speech Enzo drew on his own experience growing up in a family of entrepreneurs, and likened founders to founding members, and business shareholders to the European Member States. He spoke of the need to take risks and collaborate to bring initiatives to life, and the European challenge of supporting small and medium sized enterprises. He also emphasised and proposed actions surrounding: Developing entrepreneurship spirit and skills across the Union, Supporting innovations to play a leading role on the global market and Facilitating internationalization and access to markets.

Read Enzo’s speech here.

After impressing the jury in Round 1, Enzo made it to the Top 10 shortlist, where he impressed the jury once again with his second submission that focused on the need to incorporate the “Think Small First Principle” with regards to SMEs, the need to equip SMEs to fight against unfair advantages of big foreign tech companies and to create opportunities for SMEs to communicate with the European institutions.

Read Enzo’s second submission here.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

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.

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

I actually couldn’t believe it! I have participated in a lot of public speaking competitions before, but it was the very first time that my writing skills were recognised. I remember being on public transport when I received the “congrats email”, and I literally stopped at the next station to call a friend and tell them the news. I guess you could say I was a little bit overexcited at first.

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2019?

It was a unique event, and a great opportunity. When you think about it, our market is so large with various countries and languages, and our SMEs are so diverse and numerous. So, to build an event that brings together representatives from all sectors, from all types of companies that can discuss all issues is kind of an impossible recipe. Yet somehow it is made possible, and each year is a success!

What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2019?

I think all informal meetings and advice I took from professionals attending are my main takeaway. When I was at the event, I was a soon-to-be-graduated student looking for an end-of-studies career opportunity. Thus, I had a lot of questions about the sector, the challenges and future of European policies and also about the “European bubble”. All the people I met were very kind and took time to answer my questions and discuss further things with me. This did not stop after the Assembly and I am still in contact with most of them.

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

Well, I will be a Bluebook trainee at the European Commission in the Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (GROW), the same that organised the SME Assembly. It will be my first experience in Brussels and it’s exactly what I wanted to do. I have to say the SME Assembly and the Youth Essay Competition helped me to reach this goal!

Congratulations Enzo on being a 2019 finalist and good luck with your traineeship! Want to hear from another 2019 finalist? Come back to the News Portal next week to find out who we will talk to next…stay tuned!

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.

Youth Essay Competition 2019 – Top 10

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Ready to find out who has made it into the top 10 for this year’s Youth Essay Competition? Firstly we would like to thank everyone again for their incredible entries, which were of a very high standard and made it difficult to narrow it down to only the top 10.

The top 10 applicants will now move onto Round 2 during which they must answer the following follow-up question from our jury:

The European Commission has recently published its political guidelines for the upcoming legislative term. Among those, newly elected Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen has highlighted the importance of reinforcing SME Policy across the EU legislative board. What concrete measure or initiative would you propose to apply the “Think Small First Principle” to? And why?

Their answers will then be reviewed by the jury to narrow down the list again to the top three candidates that will travel to Helsinki to give their speech and defend their ideas in front of the SME Assembly 2019 delegates.

So who is moving on to Round 2? Have a look below!

  • Aleksandra Kochman (Poland)
  • Aureliano Undreaj (Albania)
  • Emilianos Panayiotou (Cyprus)
  • Lucia Ariel Hotti (Italy)
  • Frederik Kusse (Belgium)
  • Enzlo Ercole Ribagnac (France)
  • Estelle Beuve (France)
  • Giurca Paula Ioana (Romania)
  • Radu Domescu (Romania)
  • Magdalena Stoyanova (Bulgaria)

Well done to our top 10 and best of luck for Round 2! Don’t forget to keep checking the Portal to find out who the jury select to travel to Helsinki in November later this year…

The SME Week Youth Essay Competition is an opportunity to make your voice heard and to take your ideas to a key SME stakeholders and policy makers on a European platform.

For more information read the launch post, or contact smeweek@loweurope.eu and follow @EEPA_EU on Twitter and @PromotingEnterprise on Facebook for the latest information.

Youth Essay Competition 2019 – Round 1 submissions closed

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The SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2019 has closed for submissions. This year the competition has two rounds, with the first round open to public submission for young people aged from 18-25 from COSME and EU Member States.

This year we received submissions from 20 different countries, with the top two being Albania and Romania, followed closely by Italy, Greece, Turkey and Ukraine. Thank you for sending in your thought provoking answers to the following question:

“Write the speech that you would give as the new Commissioner for SMEs and entrepreneurship to Europe’s entrepreneurs”.

So what happens now?

This year all applicants will have to make it through two different rounds in order to be in with a chance of being in the top three that will travel to the SME Assembly 2019 in Helsinki this year. The round 1 submissions are now being carefully deliberated in order to choose a top 10. These top 10 round 1 winners will be announced right here on the Portal where they will have to get ready for their next challenge.

In round 2 our top 10 will have to convince the jury that they should be selected to go to Helsinki by answering three ‘follow up’ questions. These questions will be focused on ideas expressed in their speeches, and ask for further elaboration. Stay tuned to find out who will be going on to round 2…

Thank you to everyone that submitted their speeches, and good luck!

Youth Essay Competition 2019 – Marija’s Top Tips

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The Youth Essay Competition 2019 deadline is approaching and it is time to start finalising those essays! Today on promoting Enterprise we are back with last year’s Youth Essay Competition winner Marija Elena Borg. Last week she told us about what she has been up to since winning last year and what she learnt from taking part.

This week she is sharing her top tips for how to approach the 2019 question, and make your entry stand out. Read through her tips on how to write a winning essay below and don’t forget to submit your entry before 16 August 2019.

How would you approach the 2019 question?

This time round, the Youth Essay Competition is centred around the submission of an inauguration speech. Therefore, all participants should keep in mind the following two objectives when carrying out this task:

  • The need to make a good, lasting impression; and
  • The importance of leaving the audience with no more than three takeaways.

In all probability, we have all witnessed speeches that are overly technical or refer to pointless details. This should be avoided at all costs! Instead, make sure that the speech you’re drafting is clear, concise and founded upon a logical thought process. What is equally important is that your opening words are very carefully selected in order to instantly grasp the attention of the audience.

Do you have any advice for the 2019 competitors?

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.

Don’t forget that you can read Marija’s essay or look at her final presentation for inspiration, and read her winner’s interview here. Missed our catch-up with her last week? Be sure to read it here to find out what she has been up to since winning the competition.

For more information on the SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2019, read the launch post to find out what we are looking for. Still have questions? Please contact smeweek@loweurope.eu and follow @EEPA_EU on Twitter and @PromotingEnterprise on Facebook for the latest information.

Youth Essay Competition – Catching up with Marija

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The SME Week Youth Essay Competition is an opportunity to make your voice heard and to take your ideas to a key SME stakeholders and policy makers on a European platform.

Today on Promoting Enterprise we are excited to be catching up with last year’s winner Marija Elena Borg! Marija impressed both the competition jury and then the SME Assembly 2018 delegates with her essay on the links between innovation and the holistic growth of organisations. So what has she been up to since winning the competition and what did she take away from the experience? Keep reading to find out!

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

As the Malta Business Bureau’s Senior EU Funding Executive, I am committed to continue developing my skills on both project writing and management. Therefore, over the last months, I have immersed myself in the submission of new proposals and the implementation of ongoing projects. A particular highlight has been my two-week experience in Brussels, working alongside an experienced entrepreneur on the project development front.

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

Definitely the opportunity to challenge myself! The Youth Essay Competition gave me a clear incentive to properly brainstorm on the topic of innovation and voice my thoughts and reflections in the form of an essay. Being one of the three finalists also meant participating in the SME Assembly in Graz, pitching my ideas directly to European entrepreneurs and policy-makers.

What did you learn from the Youth Essay competition experience?

To put it simply, this experience has taught me that nothing is really impossible as long as you value and believe in your strengths and capabilities. Time and experience play a crucial role in the process of building self-belief – one simply needs to be patient, treat failures as lessons learnt and keep on exposing oneself to new challenges and opportunities.

Don’t forget that you can read Marija’s essay or look at her final presentation for inspiration, and read her winner’s interview here. Still want more advice from Marija? Curious about how she would approach this year’s question? Come back to the News Portal next week to find out!

For more information on the SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2019, read the launch post to find out what we are looking for. Still have questions? Please contact smeweek@loweurope.eu and follow @EEPA_EU on Twitter and @PromotingEnterprise on Facebook for the latest information.

Youth Essay Competition – What can you expect from the SME Assembly?

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The SME Week Youth Essay Competition is an opportunity to make your voice heard in front of the people that matter for entrepreneurship and industry. Once a year, entrepreneurs, policy makers, innovators and other SME stakeholders, gather at the prestigious SME Assembly, to tackle issues facing industry, gather new ideas and share experiences to help create a more robust, innovative and SME friendly European ecosystem.

But what is it like to attend? What can you expect from the SME Assembly as a Youth Essay Competition finalist? We asked the finalists from last year’s edition what they thought of the SME Assembly 2018 to give you a sneak peek of what it is like to attend! Curious about what they thought? Have a read through their answers below:

“This year’s edition of the SME Assembly provided an excellent learning and networking platform for European entrepreneurs and policy-makers. The organisation of a variety of activities, including business tours, matchmaking sessions, debates and participatory workshops, sparked the interest of attendees and prompted their active participation.

My highlight of the SME Assembly was the Mentoring Workshop, during which experienced entrepreneurs spoke about promoting start-up mentoring. Considering that in comparison to other continents such as North America, entrepreneurs in Europe seem to be more reluctant to enter into a mentor-mentee relationship, this workshop showcased real success stories, proving that mentoring can be equally rewarding for both parties. ”

Marija Elena Borg, 2018 winner

“The SME Assembly was a fantastic event, with people from all over Europe (and indeed, the world) coming together for the purpose of supporting business, ideas, and innovation in Europe. People from all industries, and all different career levels, shared their stories with me, and it was a very humbling experience to be able to gain so much knowledge just by simply getting to know people. I made some great friends too! The speeches, debates, and policy sessions were varied and incredibly useful, my favourites were The Big Debate and Bridging the Skills Gap. The App made sure I knew exactly where to go and when to be there, and Graz was such a beautiful city to explore during my free time. Overall it was a life-changing experience that has inspired me to work on an entrepreneurial venture.”

– Ngaio Olsen-Stahl, 2018 finalist

“It was a fantastic opportunity to listen to many interesting debates and speakers, and to network with policymakers, SME leaders, and other interesting people. I left the event filled with inspiration and ideas which made it such a wonderful trip. Moreover, I had never been to Austria before so I was also glad to have the opportunity to see the beautiful city of Graz!”

Joakim Davidsson, 2018 finalist

For any questions on the SME Week Youth Essay competition, contact smeweek@loweurope.eu, read the competition launch post for all of the information on this year’s edition and don’t forget to SUBMIT before 16 August 2019.

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