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Tag ‘SME Week Youth Essay Competition’

SME Week 2021 – Upcoming events

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The European SME week is a pan-European campaign that aims to promote entrepreneurship in Europe by helping and supporting entrepreneurs, as well as encouraging potential entrepreneurs to start their own business.

You can find out more about SME Week here on the News Portal, and watch the highlights of the annual flagship event, the SME Assembly, on our YouTube channel:

A large component of the SME Week campaign is the events included in the European SME Week event calendar. These events take place across Europe, at regional, national and cross-border level, and cover a variety of topics around the subjects of entrepreneurship, SMEs and business.

Current upcoming events include:

The calendar is updated regularly so be sure to keep checking back on events happening near you, or even online.

European SME Week – Get involved in 2021

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It is 2021 and time to start thinking about how to get involved in this year’s edition of the European SME Week. Read on to find out more about how you can get involved and where to find more information.

What is the European SME Week?

The European SME week is a pan-European campaign that aims to promote entrepreneurship in Europe. The main objectives of the campaign are to:

  • Help and support existing entrepreneurs
  • Encourage potential entrepreneurs to set up their own businesses

The campaign is coordinated by the European Commission and has events running throughout the year across all participating countries. The flagship event of the European SME Week is the SME Assembly, which takes places every autumn and is organised in collaboration with the Presidency country.

You can find information on past SME Assemblies here on the News Portal.

Where can I find out about SME Week events?

All SME Week events are submitted to the SME Week Event Calendar, and once approved are displayed publicly. You can browse events by country, dates, event types, organisers and more, to find exactly what you are looking for.

How can I get involved in SME Week in 2021?

In addition to attending existing SME Week events, you can also decide to organise your own! Events can be submitted to the calendar and national coordinators will help with selection, organisation and overall support.

If you are between the ages of 18-25, you can also get involved by participating in the annual European SME Week Youth Essay Competition.

Where can I find more information?

If you need more information on the European SME Week you can visit the European SME Week webpage or contact the SME Week Secretariat if you have specific questions.

Voices of the future – Youth Essay Competition Winner Sabine Kerssens

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The SME Week Youth Essay Competition opened for the fifth time in 2020 to ask the youth of Europe for their opinions and solutions to the following:

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?

On Promoting Enterprise, we have already had the pleasure of interviewing two of our talented finalists: Pablo Pastor Vidal and Georgina Whiteman. Make sure to read their interviews and get inspired by their submissions!

Today we have the pleasure of interviewing the 2020 winner, Sabine Kerssens, who along with the other two finalists made it all the way to the SME Assembly 2020 to present her essay and ideas to hundreds of delegates. She first impressed the jury with her ideas around the importance of cross-border collaboration and how learning from different cultures allows innovations to be inclusive. Sabine then went on to win the live vote at the SME Assembly after presenting her ideas.

We asked Sabine about her experience entering the competition, attending the SME Assembly 2020 and being selected as the 2020 winner.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

Practicing something that you would like to be better at is always a good idea, and the great thing is: you don’t need to win to learn something. As an engineer, writing an essay for a European Commission competition was not an obvious thing to do. Nevertheless, I wanted people to hear my ideas and I knew that being eloquent could help me in this. So I set my fears aside, and I practiced a new way of making an impact, through writing and submitting my ideas. So, to all the young change makers out there: participate in events like this to make sure that you give yourself the chance to find your strengths and make your voice heard in different ways. You can do it!

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

I’m so honoured that people took the time to vote, listen and enjoy my message. In my essay I advocate for a single startup scaleup market, because I believe there’s a lot to win if innovation by startups is holistically supported on an EU level. Putting a new idea out there, an idea that requires change, is unpredictable. When my name was called and I realised that I had won and that my ideas had captured the attention of the audience, I just felt adrenaline rushing through my body. I hope that with my essay, and through this competition that my ideas can be a spark for change.

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2020?

Through the youth essay competition, the finalists shared the stage with some of the most fascinating speakers within and beyond the European Union. It was inspiring and uplifting to learn from the engaging sessions. Though I would always wish for an in-person meeting, as I’m very keen to meet and thank all the people that were behind the screens (literally), I was incredibly impressed by the professionalism of the organisation and the overall impact of the event.

What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2020?

The youth don’t see the corona crisis as something separate from the climate crisis. Therefore, both challenges were a reoccurring theme in this year’s competition. Throughout the Assembly, I saw a want to do things differently in the future, specifically to “build back better”. By bringing the youth, innovators and global leaders on stage together you don’t have to wait for the future.

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

I work with a non-profit to help Dutch startups and scaleups rise with the best talent, markets, technology and capital by 2023. My goal is to make the journey for innovators to scale internationally data-driven. The aim is for risk-taking change makers to be able to rely on and accelerate through the knowledge and experience of generations. If you have ideas or thoughts on the single startup scaleup market, on what innovators need or on what I should be doing after 2023: please reach out via LinkedIn!

Congratulations Sabine! If you would like to watch Sabine’s winning presentation at the SME Assembly you can catch up on our YouTube channel, and don’t forget to read her submission and learn about her ideas for the single startup scaleup market.

Watch the SME Assembly 2020 highlights:

Voices of the future – Youth Essay Competition Finalist Georgina Whiteman

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The fifth edition of the SME Week Youth Essay Competition, held in 2020, challenged applicants to present their answers and arguments for 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?

Today on Promoting Enterprise we have the pleasure of interviewing Georgina Whiteman, who was one of the three selected finalists that made it all the way to the SME Assembly 2020 to present her essay and ideas to hundreds of delegates. Georgina impressed the jury with her arguments on how EU policy should focus on entrepreneurship education in order to invest in a future generation of sustainable and resilient SMEs.

We asked Georgina about her experience entering the competition and attending the SME Assembly 2020.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?
I’ve been entering the competition for the past few years now as I really love the idea of getting young people to discuss the future of entrepreneurship – I got a special commendation two years ago for one of my essays! I really loved the topic this year, and it was incredibly relevant to the next stage in my career journey – pursuing my PhD looking at how young people transition into entrepreneurship. The idea of developing a youth-centric entrepreneurship policy, and looking at entrepreneurship education as a core function of this, was too irresistible to resist writing on! 

What was it like to be announced as a finalist for the 2020 Competition?
Really incredible – in my last year of being considered a ‘youth’ as well, it was nice to make the final on my final chance to enter! 

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2020?
I really enjoyed it – I particularly loved the Joseph Stiglitz talk – he’s an inspiration of mine. I loved getting to know the other finalists as well, everyone was rooting for each other and it was such a positive environment to be a part of. 

What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2020?
I love the idea of thinking local – concentrating on local impact rather than global impact, and it’s something I am taking forward with me in the work I am doing in the upcoming years surrounding youth social entrepreneurship education. 

What is next for you? Any exciting plans to share?
I’m in the first few months of my PhD that is centred around youth entrepreneurship and how youth become entrepreneurs – so there’s that. I’m also working on a few social entrepreneurship related youth projects across Europe, so I’m looking forward to 2021 and getting started on all of these plans. 

Congratulations to Georgina on being one of the 2020 finalists! Did you miss Georgina’s presentation? Don’t worry you can catch up or watch it again:

You can also read through Georgina’s essay here.

Keep coming back to the News Portal to read our interview with the 2020 winner Sabine Kerssens, and don’t forget to check out our interview with fellow finalist Pablo Pastor Vidal.

Watch the SME Assembly 2020 highlights:

Voices of the future – Youth Essay Competition Finalist Pablo Pastor Vidal

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In 2020 the fifth edition of the annual SME Week Youth Essay Competition was launched and asked Europe’s youth 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?

Today on Promoting Enterprise we have the pleasure of interviewing one of the 2020 finalists who made it all the way to this year’s SME Assembly 2020 and presented his essay to the hundreds of delegates. Pablo Pastor Vidal from Spain impressed the jury with his ideas on sustainability and resilience, calling them the words of the next decade.

We asked Pablo about his experience entering the competition and attending the SME Assembly 2020.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?
Since I was a child I have always been very interested in how to come up with solutions to the social problems we face every day and I think that is why I ended up studying Law and Political Science. I remember that the day I discovered the SME Youth Week essay competition I had just had one of these big talks with my parents about how we need to innovate more and support each other even more because everyone has problems and, near them, there will always be another person with solutions. I think that is what we should do in Europe, especially in this era of our history where everything is more complicated than ever: we need to learn from each other and listen because sometimes we are just making the same mistakes that someone has made before us. 

What was it like to be announced as a finalist of the 2020 competition? 
I am a shy person, so at first, I just told a couple of friends and my family that I was a finalist because I personally thought my ideas would not change people’s minds that much. However, as soon as I told someone about it they loved reading my essay and told me that it made them think about topics that no one had pointed out to them before, and I loved to hear that! We all have the power to influence the people we know with our ideas but I just could not believe mine would captivate the attention of a jury composed of highly respected people in the world of SMEs in Europe as well. 

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2020?
It was probably one of the most enriching events I have attended. I know all the team was working really hard to make it possible, especially because all had to be transferred to an online platform this year. Although it was a pity that we had to go online, because I would have loved to meet each and every person face-to-face, that did not make me enjoy the overall conference and intense workshops any less. Now I am already looking forward to the next edition in Ljubljana and I plan to bring some experiences of the Spanish SME landscape with me.

What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2020? 
First of all, needless to say, this event is a must for everyone that wants to communicate and learn about SMEs, because it is not only enriching but diverse: there were experiences from all over Europe and the world. Moreover, I think the experts confirmed very important points that Sabine, Geena and I stressed a lot in our essays: that, in a nutshell, we are going from a vertical vision to a horizontal one, with all the consequences that has, not only in the organisations themselves but in the values regarding the environment, their resilience and their capacity to look forward and think long-term. Therefore, I think we need to engage more people creating with their minds, hearts and hands and more academics to ensure we learn from the mistakes we might make along the way. 

What is next for you? Any exciting plans to share? 
Right now I am working with a team of lawyers from all over Spain to create an innovative startup that tries to solve the everyday problems of small and medium legal firms and guide them through their digital transformation. Our mission is also to promote more economically accessible legal help to the majority of the population. I am really excited about this project and I hope to share more news about it soon.

I am also looking forward to graduating from my current studies. I know for sure I want to become a leading young voice in the promotion of small and medium enterprises, but at the same time, I do not know where my passions will take me! Until then, I hope we can make 2021 one of the best years for the growth and promotion of the SMEs. 

Thanks to everyone that made this competition and experience possible! 

Thank you Pablo and congratulations on being a 2020 finalist! You can read Pablo’s essay and watch him present at the SME Assembly:

Keep coming back to the News Portal to read our interview with fellow finalist Georgina Whiteman and the 2020 winner Sabine Kerssens.

Catch up with the SME Assembly 2020 highlights:

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!

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 a trip to the SME Assembly 2021 in Slovenia is to submit your essay of no more than 2 500 words in English, before 25 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 25 September 2020
  • The three finalists will be announced in October ahead of SME Week and will compete at a grand finale as part of the SME Assembly, where they will present their essays
  • The final winner will be chosen via a public vote

Prize

  • An opportunity to attend and present at the SME Assembly for the three finalists, to present their essays to 500+ Assembly delegates
  • Presentation training before delivering essay live at the SME Assembly 2020
  • Promotion of essays across our communication channels
  • A trip to the 2021 SME Assembly in Slovenia

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.

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