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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:

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

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 Assembly 2019 – Day 1

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The SME Assembly 2019 is underway! Day 1 got the event off to a fantastic start and was full of events and experiences for this year’s delegates.

Kicking things off was the SME Envoy meeting, which also featured discussions on the future of SME Policy, including presentations and speeches from Amazon and Sugartrends representatives. Whilst the SME Envoys were hard at work discussing the upcoming SME strategy, other delegates had the opportunity to visit Team Finland house for an exclusive tour and showcasing of Team Finland’s work. Team Finland consists of a Finnish SME network that benefits from a variety of services, ranging from advice services to funding. Delegates were treated to an insight into what the network provides, some of the participating companies, and a traditional musical performance from Lauri Schreck on the traditional Finnish kantele.

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Next it was time to properly open the SME Assembly with the European SME Week Reception at the Finlandia Hall. At the reception, delegates listened to Petri Peltonen, Under-secretary of state – MEAE, and Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, European Commission, who shared ideas about the need to prepare SMEs for upcoming challenges like sustainability and skills shortages. The floor was then passed to Finnish music star Ida Elina, who delighted the delegates with her varied vocal and kantele repertoire.

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To close the evening, renowned thinker and academic Mariana Mazzucato from University College London gave the fourth Schumpeter Innovation in Enterprise lecture at the House of the Estates. She spoke of the importance of state finance, particularly patient finance and the importance of government support for SMEs willing to innovate. During her speech she challenged the audience to think about and approach innovation from outside of their comfort zone, and critically analyse current approaches to SME finance and to steer away from blanket SME policy.

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What’s in store for Day 2? Don’t forget to have a look at the programme, follow the live coverage on Twitter via @EEPA_EU, use #SMEAssembly2019 to be featured on the feed and check out the photos from Day 1 on Flickr!

Watch the SME Assembly 2019 highlights:

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!

Get involved in the European SME Week 2019

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The European SME week is a pan-European campaign that aims to promote entrepreneurship in Europe. It helps existing entrepreneurs find information on available support and tries to encourage more people to set up their own businesses. Coordinated by the European Commission, this campaign consists of events throughout the whole year. The main event of the European SME week is organised every autumn together with the SME Assembly and the European Enterprise Promotion Awards ceremony.

How can you take part?

With events throughout the year across 37 participating countries, there is something for everyone. Each National Coordinator is busy updating the European SME Week calendar where you can browse what is going on both in your country and across others. Have a look at the event calendar here.

Feeling motivated? Got something to share? Why not organise your own event as part of the European SME Week! Find out more about the different types of events and how to be featured in the event calendar here. There is also a set of Frequently Asked Questions for event organisers if you have any further questions.

For more information visit the European SME Week website and contact the SME Week Secretariat.

SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2019 – Launch

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Youth of Europe, it is time to make your voice heard! If you are between the ages of 18-25 the European Commission wants to hear your ideas and thoughts on the topic of entrepreneurship, SMEs and the European entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The Youth Essay competition, organised by the European Commission Directorate General for Single Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, is launching for the fourth time and is looking for submissions that answer the following:

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

The Youth Essay Competition is a chance to share your thoughts and opinions with key policymakers and entrepreneurs on a European platform within the domains of enterprise, entrepreneurship and SMEs.

This year, the competition will be divided into two rounds:

  • Round 1: This is an open call to submit your speech. This submission is due by 16 August 2019
  • Round 2: You have given your inauguration speech and journalists are asking you for more details about your ideas. If you are selected for the top 10, you will receive three ‘follow up’ questions asking you to expand upon the ideas in your speech.

In order to win the prize of an all-expenses paid trip to the 2019 SME Assembly in Helsinki, submit your speech of no more than 2 500 words in English before 16 August 2019.

Don’t know what to write? Not sure where to start? Have a look at previous winning entries:

You can also have a look at the entries from previous finalists:

To get started, read through the rules below, get writing and SUBMIT!

If you have any questions please contact smeweek@loweurope.eu

SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2019 Launch

Rules

  • The competition is open to all 18 to 25 year olds from European Member States or COSME partners countries (see the list)
  • Speeches should not exceed 2 500 words in length
  • All submissions must be in English
  • Only one entry per applicant
  • The deadline for Round 1 submissions is 16 August 2019
  • The three finalists will be announced in October ahead of SME Week and will compete at a grand finale in Helsinki as part of the SME Assembly, where they will give their speeches
  • The final winner will be chosen via a public vote

Prize

  • An all-expenses paid trip to the SME Assembly in Helsinki, Finland for the three finalists, to deliver their speeches to 500+ Assembly delegates
  • Presentation training before delivering speech live on stage at the SME Assembly 2019
  • Promotion of speeches across official social media channels

See Youth Essay Competition 2019 Terms and Conditions.

Follow us for competition updates on TwitterFacebook and Instagram and be sure to follow and use the hashtags #SMEWeekYouth and #YEC2019

Youth Essay Competition 2018 – Who is going to Graz?

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Today is the day that we all find out who is going to Graz to the SME Assembly 2018 from the European SME Week Youth Essay Competition!

Firstly, a big thank you to everyone that submitted an entry for this year’s Essay Competition. The standard was very high and the jury spent lots of time and effort deliberating the shortlist, which was then narrowed down to the final top three candidates.

We would firstly like to give special mentions to the following entrants who made it onto the competition jury shortlist:

  • Antonios Vasilakis Kinalis
  • Babatunde Onabajo
  • Georgina Whiteman
  • Klemens Okkels
  • Roberta Dobra
  • Rory Daniels

These entries were of a high quality and received much praise from the judges, so congratulations on being on the shortlist!

Now comes the time to announce the top three finalists who will be joining us at the SME Assembly in Graz to present their essays and compete for the public vote. Please congratulate:

So who will be this year’s winner? We look forward to meeting the top three and finding out next month in Graz!

The Youth Essay Competition jury would also like to give a special mention to Vincent Straub from Germany. The jury were only able to select three finalists, but felt that his essay was very strong and well written and as such deserved recognition.

SME Week Newsletter 2017: Issue #9

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Season’s Greetings

 

With the last edition of the 2017 SME Week Newsletter, we would like to extend our season’s greetings to all of our readers as well as: the EEPA 2017 winners, the SME Assembly 2017 delegates, all YEC participants and in particularly this year’s finalists: Pavle Kostic and Evlampia Karavangeli and winner: Oksana Vedmidska, the Ideas from Europe finalists and finally the European Investment Project Portal.

We look forward to having you back with us on the Portal in the New Year and wish you a successful year ahead.

Read more >>

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SME Assembly 2016 – Day 1

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What a great start! The SME Assembly 2016 is now well under way after kicking off yesterday on Wednesday 23 November in Bratislava, Slovakia. The day was full of events including business tours, the SME Week Reception and the Schumpeter Lecture to name a few. Missed out or couldn’t attend all sessions? Don’t worry here is a quick round up of yesterday’s highlights.

30396367203_4bccaec88b_zIt all started bright and early with the first business tour of the day to go and see none other than Slovakia’s flying car! Yes you read that correctly, the entrepreneurs behind this automotive innovation showed delegates the product of their efforts, a flying car that makes use of existing aviation and automobile infrastructure to offer a future with the possibility of real door-to-door travel. The second business tour took delegates to GA drilling. This innovative SME in the drilling sector is working towards revolutionising current drilling technology to allow for cheaper and more efficient drilling, with the idea of providing affordable and sustainable geothermal power to all. Delegates were treated to a very interactive demonstration of the unique plasmabit technology that is currently under development.

30396363193_7fbaf6809e_zThere was little time to rest as the next events got underway, with the SME Week Reception starting first in the Old Market Hall where the guests were welcomed by State Secretary  of the Slovak Republic Rastislav Chovanec. The reception was full of fun as national winners, exhibitioners and other attendees had the chance to meet, network and socialise. The Committee of the Regions introduced the 2018 EER Awards, and a regional polish project, Selvita (a drug research company) was also given the floor. Along with all these introductions, guests were treated to a taster of what is to come in the following days of the SME Assembly.

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30397309743_ef1f04c0a9_zTo finish off an amazing first day with the presence of Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowská over dinner at the Restauracia Hrad, a small group of delegates was invited to the Schumpeter Lecture. Special guest speaker Philippe Aghion from Harvard University delivered a captivating lecture. Professor Aghion addressed the trials of promoting innovation in Europe and the need for Europe to adapt and reform, saying that ‘If we want to revive the idea of Europe, we have to deliver abroad’, when speaking of Europe’s performance on the global market.

To see photos from the first day, visit our Flickr. It was an eventful day to say the least and with so much going on it was great to see everybody active on Twitter helping to promote #SMEassembly2016! So stay tuned, follow live Twitter updates if you just can’t get enough (@EEPA_EU) and bring on Day 2…

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