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Youth voices of Europe – Meet Youth Essay Competition winner Oksana Vedmidska

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‘What skills do tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need?’, was the question that we posed to the youth of Europe for this year’s edition of the SME Youth Essay Competition.

Today, Promoting Enterprise is excited to present this year’s winner, Oksana Vedmidska from Ukraine! Oksana first impressed the Youth Essay Competition jury with her passionate essay and then went on to blow the audience away with her ideas at the SME Assembly 2017. Interested in what impressed the jury? Read her essay here and continue reading to find out more about her and her thoughts about the SME Assembly 2017.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

Firstly, I decided to enter the competition, because entrepreneurship is a topic which is personal for me. Thanks to entrepreneurship, my family was able to survive difficult economic times in Ukraine in the 90s. Secondly, and this is probably because of the fact that my parents are involved in entrepreneurial activities, I myself adore the independence and passion that stands behind your freelance work or your own company.

In addition, this probably has something to do with my genes. I must admit that if one looks at Ukrainians from a historical perspective, they will see that we are used to being owners. This began from being owners of small agricultural plots, where we worked hard to cover the needs of our families. As a result we developed crucial skills like practical thinking, responsibility, independence and the ability to take risks – qualities and skills which are crucial for an entrepreneur. I believe Ukrainians inherited these skills and qualities and that is why we strive to establish our own small businesses/start-ups.

Thirdly, I considered the Youth Essay Competition to be a fantastic opportunity to spread my ideas and talk about problems and solutions concerning entrepreneurship that we face nowadays.

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2017?

The SME Assembly 2017 was characterised by an incredible spirit of innovation and what the future holds. I was very delighted to see that we spoke about digitalisation as one of the keys of entrepreneurial success. Somehow in our ordinary lives we do not notice the importance of this topic and do not discuss opportunities it gives and the risks it involves, but during the Assembly we were really able to recognise the importance of e-governing, e-commerce, data exchange etc. not only for entrepreneurs and customers but for the society as a whole.

Moreover, a highlight of the SME Assembly 2017 was probably social entrepreneurship. I cannot remember any project of the Ideas from Europe which did not have some significance for society. Somehow the final purpose of each start-up was to guarantee benefits to a human-being. To my mind, that is a big step in the business environment, when a person is not simply seen as a customer by a business, but as a human-being with different specialised needs. If I had an investment fund, I would definitely provide venture capital, not only with the purpose to obtain some gains, but also because successful implementation of a social business project would improve the environment our global society lives in, and in which our kids will continue to live.

The theme of this year’s SME Assembly was to ‘Start. Scale. Spread your wings’, what does that mean to you?

From a practical point of view, I would reinterpret it as ‘Develop an idea. Study your potential market niche. Write a business plan. And go for it, no matter what’. In my way of thinking, an entrepreneur is a dreamer, who respects the material bounds of our world. I would take this slogan and use it in schools to inspire teachers to change the old-fashioned science-oriented way we use to teach our children and also in order to motivate kids and adolescents to work on their entrepreneurial skills.

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

Revealing personal plans is like revealing a sweet dream you had last night and since you want to keep the odds on your side you try to keep it secret… 🙂

In reality I am busy with my second degree that I have just started at the University of Applied Science of Darmstadt. So for the next 3 years I plan to study Information Law there. That is probably why all of my time will be devoted to studies, work and discussions concerning development and possibilities of improvement of our society. Anyway, we will see what is in store for me, one thing I know for sure is that there are still so many countries to visit, cultures and languages to learn, and experiences to gather and share, so I will not sit still!

That’s it for the 2017 finalists and winner! If you missed the finalist exclusive interviews be sure to read about Evlampia Karavangeli and Pavle Kostic on the News Portal. Where will these young finalists find themselves next? We will have to wait until 2018 to find out…

Helping Latvian youth realise entrepreneurial dreams – EEPA 2016 Special Mention

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Innovative business ideas can come from all sorts of people, as seen today in the next European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2016 winner interview. Read about these successful project journeys, and pick up their useful tips and tricks for future applicants.

This interview looks at one of the EEPA 2016 Special Mentions, Latvian project Radam Novadam (Create for County), represented here by project coordinator Andris Cheksters. This project, which received Erasmus+ funding that was granted by Agency of International Programms for Youth in Latvia, is a competition for students with three key objectives: To generate added economic value in Latvian regions, To discover and unleash the skills and abilities of students to help them along in their careers and finally to build a new generation of socially responsible entrepreneurs.

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

I first heard about the EEPA competition when I was working on the project, and thought it looked like a good opportunity. We were planning to launch the project one more time and thought that should we be recognised with this award that it might help us obtain the necessary funding to continue providing this opportunity for students to get into the entrepreneurial mindset.

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How did you go about preparing your application?

We actually applied quite late in June, and in Latvia the national winners are announced in July so we did not have much time to prepare. It was actually a surprise when we found out we were national winners because we did not hear anything for quite a while so just assumed that nothing had happened and forgot about the application.

What was it like to win the award and what kind of response did you receive?

It was definitely a surprise and it felt good to be promoted on a European level. We actually were surprised twice, first by being announced as national winners and again when we found out we were going to be a special mention at the SME Assembly 2016 in Bratislava! It made our work feel appreciated and recognised, which is great for our project because the student teams in the competition can also benefit from extra exposure.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work?

It was not particularly big news on a national level, but it was a big thing both for myself and all the project partners. There were several articles written about the project, and the exposure the award gives definitely helped with our credibility. I am not sure if this is a direct result of the exposure, but around the same time we also managed to secure some funding we had applied for to help continue running the competition for students.

Can you already see a long-term impact or do you have any expectations?

The award has already helped in terms of scaling up the project, which really suits my vision for this project’s future. In future hopefully this project can be replicated across different European countries so that all European students and youth can start companies and use their local advantages in order to create international teams and in turn successful businesses. The project has a different structure to other ‘business idea’ competitions with a reality show style format and a focus on actual results and created economic values, so I want to bring this innovation and entrepreneurial opportunity to other European countries.

Why should others enter EEPA 2017? What advice would you give them?

This award provides recognition which is always good for project, especially if that recognition comes from a higher and recognised entity like the European Commission. This level of validity and credibility makes it much easier to launch a project or to look for funding, which is support we need with our innovative approach.

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The project will re-launch again on 6 February to continue the search for inspiring entrepreneurs!

www.radamnovadam.lv

Meet the 30 under 30 social entrepreneurs changing Europe in 2017

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From innovating scientists to high school founders, this year’s 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs list highlights entrepreneurs making an impact combating climate change, empowering the visually impaired, and activating developing markets.

The members of this year’s 30 Under 30 Europe list are culled from over one thousand online nominations and research by a team of reporters at Forbes and across Europe. Candidates for the Social Entrepreneurs list were evaluated by a panel of experts in their fields: Jean Case of the Case Foundation; Cheryl Dorsey of Echoing Green; and Randall Lane of Forbes Magazine. The final list is built from the recommendations of our judges.

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Here are some of notable areas the Under 30s will be impacting Europe and the world in 2017:

Making Fresh Produce Accessible

Agricool cofounders Guillaume Fourdinier, 29, and Gonzague Gru, 29, are making cities more sustainable with their Cooltainer, a storage container capable of producing fresh produce year round. The French duo recently harvested a $4.3 million funding round that will enable them to ramp up production in 2017.

Integrating New Arrivals

Ninon Demuth, 27, is using food as a catalyst for long-lasting refugee integration. She cofounded Über den Tellerrand, an organization that connects refugees with locals through refugee-led cooking classes, street food markets and cookbooks. The idea is catching hold: already they’ve spread to 25 cities in four European countries.

Inspiring Entrepreneurs of the Future

Ben and Jodie Cook, both 28, the husband and wife team behind Clever Tykes, realised that their entrepreneurial spark began in early childhood. Looking to inspire the next generation of leaders, they developed a series of children’s books featuring enterprising young role models. They scored a major partnership with the Lloyds Banking Group in late 2016 that now enables them to offer the books free of charge to every primary school across the United Kingdom.

Reducing Our Carbon Footprint

Scientist turned entrepreneur Julian Melchiorri, 29, invented the first synthetic biological leaf that mimics the work of an actual leaf. By absorbing carbon dioxide and emitting breathable oxygen, the BioSolar Leaf holds limitless possibilities from increasing air quality in cities to even potentially making life on another planet possible.

These are only a few of the trailblazers leading the way to a better future. Meet the rest of the social entrepreneurs in the full Under 30 Europe – Social Entrepreneurs List.

Source: www.forbes.com

Social Entrepreneurship in the spotlight at Germany’s SME Week Conference 2016

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Germany’s main SME conference ahead of this year’s European SME Week focused on the lively social enterprise scene that has developed in the country. According to the keynote speaker Kristin Schreiber, from the European Commission’s Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, one in four new companies set up across the EU is a social enterprise.

160628_KMU-Konferenz_SprecherThe German national event, which took place on 28 June, brought together almost 130 experts from networks, funding bodies, science and academia as well as entrepreneurs. In line with the motto of this year’s conference – ‘Addressing social challenges. Undertaking dedicated action. Embracing responsible entrepreneurship’, the discussion focused on what social enterprises need in order to flourish.

The main idea behind this conference was to make social enterprises more widely known and to promote their interests and needs among established players, such as chambers of commerce, consultancy firms and funding bodies. A particular highlight of the conference was the four presentations given by social entrepreneurs to showcase their innovative business ideas:

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Ralf Sange< Andrea-Victoria Noelle is co-founder of Beliya GmbH, a designer label for bags and accessories that works for a good cause: for every bag sold, a child in Africa is sponsored for one school year.

Ralf Sange > from Gründer 50plus UG supports people over the age of 50 who are considering setting up their own business.

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< Anne Kjær Riechert founded the ReDI School of Digital Integration gGmbH where refugees – mostly from Syria – become students, learning computer programming and coding so that they can find a job in Germany.

Martin RSOMartin Reh > co-founded the RSO Shift GmbH, a company that constructs a medical device for developing regions that cleans, disinfects and sterilises operating equipment using nothing but solar power.

The discussion also focused on the results of a study on social entrepreneurship published by the German Economic Affairs Ministry.

A video of the conference highlights, with subtitles in English, is available here below.

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