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Q&A with Kenny Ewan

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In this week’s column from June’s Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR), we go head-to-head with Kenny Ewan of WeFarm to find out why he decided to step out on his own, whether he had that ‘lightbulb moment’ and how he secured the funding to finance his start up.

Why did you set up your company?

I spent many years working with isolated, indigenous communities in Peru and saw first-hand the grassroots innovation and ideas they were creating to solve challenges. However, I also saw that there was a huge discrepancy in the way this knowledge was shared, and information in general was accessed, in the developing world compared to the massive trend towards decentralization of knowledge and peer to peer sharing in the Western world driven by the internet. In 2009 I was offered the chance to be part of the Cafedirect Producers’ Foundation (CPF – A UK registered charity working with small-scale farmers around the world) start-up team with Claire Rhodes. We put our ideas and experiences together to design the first version of what would become WeFarm.

When did you set up your business, and how long did it take?

we farm 2WeFarm launched as a social enterprise in January 2015, and we launched the product one month later in Kenya.  We had previously been piloting and developing WeFarm as a CPF project for several years before taking the step to launch and scale as a social business – we felt this was a much more scalable and sustainable model.

We developed the product with farming communities in Peru, Kenya and Tanzania which I think was unbelievably beneficial – it meant that we developed something that people on the ground find useful and actually want to use!

Did you have a ‘lightbulb moment’ that led to you starting your business, or which triggered a change in the way you did things?

I think the path to WeFarm being launched was more of a gradual coming together of ideas, experiences and pilots than a single lightbulb moment. However, there have a few special moments along the way. I would pick out the first international test we did with farmers in Peru and Kenya as a great WeFarm moment… I was with a group of rural farmers in Peru as the first messages came in from Kenya, and it was amazing to see people’s reaction to receiving key information from the other side of the world, all in their own language and without internet. That was the moment I knew we had something of huge potential on our hands.

Where did you source funding to set up your business?

WeFarm initially was developed and tested under the UK charity Cafedirect Producers’ Foundation (CPF) and received grant funding from Nominet Trust and Knight Foundation. Then, in 2014 we won the Google Impact Challenge Award. The prize money enabled us to put our plans to launch WeFarm at scale as a social enterprise into action.

In 2015 we were part of the Wayra accelerator programme in London, which included investment into WeFarm.

Were there any EU, national, regional or local business support services, programmes or funding initiatives that helped you set up or grow?

The Wayra accelerator programme was very valuable in getting business support, coaching, mentoring, and certainly  a lot of practice in how to pitch! We have also been part of the Ideas From Europe initiative run by the European Commission over the last few months. This has helped us gain a bit of exposure on the European stage, and culminated in a talk at TEDxBinnenhof, which was very exciting.

With hindsight, which would have been the single most valuable skill to have before setting up your business?

I’d say pitching and public speaking. It’s not necessarily fair that startup businesses are judged on a two or three minute ‘pitch’, but that is the reality. There is no doubt that the startups who can tell a great story and capture people’s imagination in a pitch find themselves with lots more opportunities across PR, funding and entry into different events.

Ultimately you obviously need to have substance behind it to succeed, but I’d certainly advise startup founders to practice, practice and practice their pitch. Or be brave enough to know it’s not your thing, and find a partner who can.

About Kenny

Kenny-Ewan 2Kenny is CEO of WeFarm, a pioneering social enterprise, scaling a unique peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing platform for the 450 million small-scale farmers around the world with no access to the internet. After graduating from the University of Dundee, Kenny went to Peru in 2002 to work on sustainable development projects with indigenous communities. He loved the country so much that he decided to stay. In 2007, he became Peru’s Country Director for ProWorld Service Corps. This international development NGO specialises in projects for isolated, indigenous communities. He returned to the UK in 2009 to join the Cafedirect Producers Foundation (CPF) start-up team. He designed and managed all of CPF’s international projects across East Africa and Latin America.

Overcoming young people’s barriers to entrepreneurship

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Young entrepreneurs, especially those who choose not to enter tertiary education, face real barriers when entering business. Fortunately, there are organisations that can help.

I am your boss

With the limited curriculum that time imposes on most educational systems, those who leave school at 16 and who don’t go on to tertiary education end up entering a world in which they lack business knowledge and experience. They frequently lack saleable skills, and usually have no access to start-up finance. These are very genuine barriers to entering the business world and make this category of young entrepreneur genuinely disadvantaged.

Unfortunately, they seldom attract any attention but they have plenty of potential to be successful business operators, often as self-employed business people or maybe working with a small team. But to become successful they need to obtain the necessary knowledge and skills, find experienced mentors and gain access to finance. In the United Kingdom, the organisation par excellence for helping young (and therefore disadvantaged) entrepreneurs is The Prince’s Trust, set up in 1976 by HRH The Prince of Wales when he left the Royal Navy. Now, some 40 years later and having helped over 825 000 young people in the UK, he recalled that decision saying, “What struck me was that young people weren’t being given the opportunities quickly enough. No one was putting the trust in them that they needed.” In a video on the Trust’s website, he explains his rationale in greater depth. In 2014, The Prince’s Trust International was set up to expand the Trust’s activities overseas.

entrepreneur-696968_1280The Prince is an indefatigable supporter of youth enterprise. “I have always been of the opinion that young people have the skills and energy to make a real difference to our world, and we must do all that we can to harness their talents.” In addition to The Prince’s Trust, he has set up Youth Business International. In each case, the organisation can help young people find and attend the right training courses, obtain the right skills and access the necessary funds.

Similar support can be obtained from the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme, which is financed through the EU and operates through local contact points in Member States. So, even though youthful entrepreneurs face many disadvantages, this shouldn’t stop them from developing a business.

More information and a lot of useful ideas can be found at the following organisations:

The Prince’s Trust

The Princes Trust International

Youth Business International

Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs

Supporting entrepreneurs and the self-employed – blog

If you’re aged between 16 – 25 years old, enter our European SME Week Youth Essay Competition. Learn how >>

SME Week Newsletter: Issue #2

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Entrepreneurs, national EEPA winners, competitions, and more about business in the EU

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This month is a busy one as we continue to gear up for SME Week this November. June sees the closure of all national European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) competitions in time for the European closing date of 1 July. Find out if you still have a chance to enter and win one of the prestigious European awards by searching the deadlines in the article below. Also, meet Kenny, our new Entrepreneur in Residence, and enter or promote our youth essay competition. Read more >>

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A social entrepreneur’s guide to raising investment

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Each month on the Promoting Enterprise blog, an Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR), give us an insight into his/her entrepreneurial journey. June’s entrepreneur is Kenny Ewan (UK). Watch his TEDx talk here and discover how his social enterprise helps others:

kenny ewan

Do you want to make the world a better place? I do – and that’s why I helped set up a social enterprise called WeFarm. At WeFarm we empower farmers in the developing world (of which there are more than 500 million!) to both access and share vital agricultural information without needing any access to the Internet. We use SMS in a unique way that allows isolated communities to learn from each other peer-to-peer.

WeFarm farmer

After an incredible first year of growth and success, with more than 58,000 farmers using our service already, my first few months of the this year have been spent trying to secure the investment needed to take us to the next stage.

During any funding round you have the opportunity to meet a wide range of investors – from angels to large VC firms, with investors from lots of different countries. This is particularly true for social enterprises like WeFarm, and I set out to pitch our business to both social impact investors and more traditional VCs.

Creating a compelling story that appeals to both social investors and more traditional VCs can be challenging for social businesses, but we were determined to convince people that our social impact is truly embedded within a great business model, and we were confident we can convince both sides of the investment world.

It’s been fascinating to see the differences in styles and interests between them. When I started, I assumed that we would have more opportunities with the social impact investors (for fairly obvious reasons). However, it’s been great to find that the opposite has been true and we’ve had a lot more advanced conversations with the more traditional VCs.

I think this shows something really exciting is happening: businesses with a strong social mission can interest traditional investors if the business case is right. More and more people are looking for business with a social purpose to invest in, and recognise that the returns can be even higher than average businesses.

However, being honest, the process has also highlighted for me some challenges with social impact investment, especially for more innovative businesses looking at very large scale projects. A lot of the conversations I’ve had with social impact investors have been guided by their need to put things in social impact boxes – to look at measurement and impact chains rather than big ideas.

Having spent my entire career (until now) in the international development field, I wholeheartedly agree with the importance of impact measurement and evaluation. But should this be the starting point ahead of new ideas and innovation that can’t easily be measured and put in boxes at an early stage? Ideally, of course, you need both, and I hope that slowly these two investment universes are starting to come closer together.

My advice to social entrepreneurs would be to urge you to not limit yourself in your view of what your social business is. Reach out to all the investors you can, make sure you have a compelling business model, and think big. Even as a social business, traditional investors might be best for you.

About Kenny

Kenny-Ewan 2Kenny is CEO of WeFarm, a pioneering social enterprise, scaling a unique peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing platform for the 450 million small-scale farmers around the world with no access to the internet. After graduating from the University of Dundee, Kenny went to Peru in 2002 to work on sustainable development projects with indigenous communities. He loved the country so much that he decided to stay. In 2007, he became Peru’s Country Director for ProWorld Service Corps. This international development NGO specialises in projects for isolated, indigenous communities. He returned to the UK in 2009 to join the Cafedirect Producers Foundation (CPF) start-up team. He designed and managed all of CPF’s international projects across East Africa and Latin America.

Is your organisation helping to create the most enterprising place in Britain?

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The deadline for the UK’s Enterprising Britain Awards is fast approaching. If you’re a UK-based organisation working within the enterprise promotion sector, then you need to submit your application online by Friday, 10 June in order to be in with a chance of being one of two British entrants in the pan-European EEPA competition.

The UK competition has four categories:

  • Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit
  • Building enterprise skills
  • Improving the business environment
  • Support for exporting

We spoke to Derek Kozel from the Enterprising Britain team about what they’re looking for in a winning entry, and more:

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What is Enterprising Britain and what is its relationship to the EEPA Awards?

The Enterprising Britain Awards are part of the Government’s drive to increase entrepreneurial activity in the UK. They are managed by Investment in Young People on behalf of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).The awards recognise and celebrate organisations across the UK that support the development of an entrepreneurial culture through their work on developing new start-up businesses and putting support and infrastructure in place that helps existing business grow. In more recent years the competition has also added an additional focus on organisations that work with young people to inspire them about enterprise and running a business. Two of the finalists will be put forward to the EEPA competition and if chosen may have the chance of representing the UK at the SME Assembly 2016. The competition started in 2004 and predates the EEPA.

What makes a town, city or area the ‘Most Enterprising Place in Britain’?

Impact. The Enterprising Britain Award judges look for the entrant that can show the greatest impact on its geographical location through their activity. This could be in terms of overall numbers of new jobs; total change in the physical infrastructure that supports the growth of the business community; or a pronounced change in how business and job growth/prospects are perceived in any particular area.

What are you looking for in standout entries?

The ability to demonstrate the impact that their project has achieved, both on their initial targeted criteria, but also a more wider general impact from their activity – the Added Value effect.

Enterprising Britian Awards - 2nd November 2015-116 (1)

Last year’s Enterprising Britain Awards ceremony

How have you promoted the competition so far? Have you worked with any partners?

We’ve promoted the awards through our extensive contact lists of local authorities and business support organisations from across the country. We also use the EBA website and targeted emails to community contacts and a wide range of other organisations that are active in this area which we’ve had contact with over the years. We also have regular activity promoting the awards through our social media accounts @entbritawards as well as working with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills media team.

What kind of response have you had so far?

We tend to have a build-up of interest and have an initial batch of organisations that have started to complete their entries. Our experience from the past three years of running the competition is that entries tend to arrive at the last minute, as we continue to promote the competition and follow up all of the organisations that have registered and expressed an initial interest.

What advice would you give to organisations thinking of entering the competition?

Enter – the competition is free to enter, and could lead to an awards presentation at the House of Commons as well as representing the UK in the European Enterprise Promotion Awards. Past winners of the Most Enterprising Place in Britain have been featured on national TV and continue to gain an advantage from this award in their ongoing publicity and marketing of their project.

The other point would be not to leave it till the last minute. We often have entries that are submitted close to the deadline that for some reason hit a “technical hitch” and that just adds to the pressure of getting the entry in. If you submit your entry a few days before the deadline it gives everyone a bit more time to deal with any unexpected problems.

Finally, where can prospective entrants find out more info?

The Enterprising Britain Web site should be their starting point as this sets out all the details on the categories, entry criteria and rules and how to enter.

European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2014: Winners announced

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eepa-ceremony-2014

 

The seven winners of the eighth annual European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) were announced in Naples at the SME Assembly, which is the cornerstone of European SME Week.

The Grand Jury Prize was awarded to Encouraging Business Start-ups by Mothers with Young Children, a Hungarian project that seeks to help mothers develop the skills and mind-set to launch and run successful businesses. It offers online resources and training programmes. The project also holds the Entrepreneurial Women’s Roundtable to help mothers navigate the world of business and build relationships with one another.

Winners in the six official categories included organisations from Lithuania, Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, Germany and Portugal. These and many other initiatives encompassed areas as diverse as technology, sustainability and textile and proposed innovative solutions to a range of issues from pollution to lack of corporate social responsibility.

Below is the breakdown of winners and runners-up in each of the six competing categories.

 

Category 1: Promoting Entrepreneurial Spirit

Winner:

Lithuania – Mobile Apps Laboratories

Responsible organisation: App Camp, JSC

 

Runners up:

Austria  AplusB build!

Responsible organisation: build! Gründerzentrum Kärn GmbH

Netherlands – 20-80 Learning

Responsible organisation: Willem van Oranje College

 

Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills

Winner:

Bulgaria  Brandiko

Responsible organisation: Ministry of Economy & Energy

 

Runners up:

Germany – Brennerei Next Generation Lab

Responsible organisation:  Wirtschaftsförderung Bremen GmbH

Serbia – Western Balkans Business Challenge

Responsible organisation: Junior Achievement Serbia

 

Category 3: Improving the Business Environment

Winner:

Spain – Start-up in 3

Responsible organisation: Ministry of Finance and Public Administration (MINHAP)

 

Runners up: 

Italy – Grow and Compete with Business Network  Contracts

Responsible organisationUnioncamere Emilia-Romagna

United Kingdom  The Sharp Project

Responsible organisation: The Sharp Project

 

Category 4: Supporting the Internationalisation of Business

Winner:

Italy – Mirabilia: European Network of UNESCO Sites

Responsible organisation: Matera Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Crafts and Agriculture

 

Runners up:

Netherlands – Get in the Ring

Responsible organisation: Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship

France –The Living Heritage Company Label

Responsible organisation: Directorate for Competitiveness, Industry and Services

 

Category 5 – Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency

Winner:

Portugal – AMS – Thinking Ahead

Responsible organisation: Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade of Portugal, Public Enterprise (“AICEP”) in partnership with AMS-BR STAR PAPER, S.A. (“AMS”).

 

Runners up:

Malta – EU LIFE+ Investing in Water

Responsible organisation: Malta Business Bureau

Turkey – Developing a Widely Applicable, Low-Cost Model for Clean Production in the Textile Finishing Industry

Responsible organisation: Uludağ Textile Exporters Association (UTEA)

 

Category 6 – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship

Winner:

Germany –Wiesbaden Engaged

Responsible organisation: Municipality of the City of Wiesbaden – Agency for Social Work

 

Runners up:

Poland – Consortium of the design “Construction and equipment of the Intramunicipal Vocational Rehabilitation Centre”

Responsible organisation: Polish Association for Persons with Mental Handicap, Szczecin Branch

France – The Entrepreneurs Team

Responsible organisation: National Association of Designer Groups (ANGC)

 

Special mentions:

United Kingdom  Primary to Professional

Responsible organisation: Gower College Swansea

Austria – Sources of Strength

Responsible organisation: Industrie- und Wirtschaftsentwicklung Murtal GmbH

Portugal – DO IT – Ideas of Portuguese Origin

Responsible organisation: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 

15 countries have projects in European Enterprise Promotion Awards shortlist

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The 2014 EEPAs will be presented in Naples, Italy

The 2014 EEPAs will be presented in Naples, Italy

Hundreds of projects competed in the 2014 national competitions for a chance to represent their country in the European Enterprise Promotion Awards, due to be presented in October.

A record number of 31 countries entered the 2014 EEPAs. 22 projects from 15 countries – Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Turkey and the UK – were shortlisted during the jury meeting held earlier this summer.

Commenting on the shortlist, Ferdinando Nelli Feroci, the newly appointed Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, stressed the creativity and imagination used to produce these outstanding results. He said it proves exactly why harnessing and celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit is so important to driving the growth of European business. He believes that the 22 shortlisted projects will inspire and encourage young people and women especially, to choose entrepreneurship as a viable career path.

 

Shortlist for the 2014 European Enterprise Promotion Awards

Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Austria: AplusB build! Start-Up Centre’s two main goals are to promote entrepreneurship as a career option and stimulate entrepreneurship by providing coaching, training and financial support for innovative start-up projects in the Carinthia region. Their goal is to support 8-10 new start-up projects each year, and the initiative has already funded more than 95 start-ups, with over 90 per cent of these companies trading successfully.

Responsible organisation: build! Gründerzentrum Kärn GmbH

Organisation website: www.build.or.at

 

Hungary: Encouraging Business Start-ups by Mothers with Young Children helps mothers to acquire the entrepreneurial skills and mindset to start a business and make it profitable. The project delivers online resources including a blog, Facebook page, e-learning training programmes and a weekly newsletter, as well as the Entrepreneurial Women’s Roundtable meeting to help mothers navigate the world of business and network with each other. The project also hosts the annual Mother Company of the Year competition and the Business Mums’ Conference.

Responsible organisation: Gazdagmami Kft.

Organisation website: www.gazdagmami.hu

 

Lithuania: Mobile Apps Laboratories is an initiative to promote entrepreneurship in information and communication technologies. Working in the four biggest Lithuanian education institutions, Mobile Apps Laboratories bring together young people with academics and industry professionals to deliver ‘App Camp’ during their bachelor, master or PhD dissertation works, with the objective of bringing innovative new products and services to the market. It also aims to increase the number of women starting businesses in information technology.

Responsible organisation: App Camp, JSC

Organisation website: http://www.appcamp.lt/

 

Netherlands: International Business College 20:80 Learning is an entrepreneurial programme for students in secondary education. The young students complete the standard Dutch secondary school course in four days per week (80%) and during the remaining time (20%) they have an International Business College (IBC) day where they set up and run their own business. There are currently 10 active IBC schools and 350 students involved in this education programme.

Responsible organisation: International Business College

Project website: www.20-80learning.nl

 

Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills

Bulgaria: Brandiko educates students on how to build a brand and register the brand as a Community Trade Mark. Students establish training companies and are mentored on how to build and manage their own brand, market the brand and use it to increase sales. Pupils also learn about the importance of intellectual property protection. More than 1,700 students have completed the Brandiko programme.

Responsible organisation: Ministry of Economy & Energy

Organisation website: www.mi.government.bg

 

Germany: BRENNEREI Next Generation Lab enables master’s students and graduates to learn and develop new entrepreneurial approaches. Together with professionals from the science and creative industries, scholars work full-time in inter-disciplinary teams to solve the real problems of companies or public entities. The activities include analyses and finding novel approaches that are socially relevant in the areas of communication, product design, and use of new media. Approximately 60 applications from all over Europe have been received for the 2014 scholarship.

Responsible organisation: WFB Wirtschaftsförderung Bremen GmbH

Organisation website: www.wfb-bremen.de

Project website: www.brennerei-lab.de

 

Serbia: Western Balkans Business Challenge is a unique competition for high school students from Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. In mixed teams (4 students from each country), they compete to provide the best business idea for the challenge put before them. The initiative develops entrepreneurial and financial skills and motives the students to think proactively. At least 1,500 students and 200 business community representatives have participated in the competition so far.

Responsible organisation: Junior Achievement Serbia

Organisation website: www.ja-serbia.org

 

UK: Primary to Professional (P2P) engages primary and secondary school pupils introducing them to important entrepreneurial skills including creativity, innovation and risk taking and leads to a specialist enterprise academy for start-up businesses. This has developed into supporting business start-ups with the first Start up Weekend in Wales and the new Tech Hub for new Tech Entrepreneurs. More than 4,000 secondary school pupils have taken part in Young Business Dragons and enterprise is now embedded in a number of educational institutions across Swansea.

Responsible organisation: Gower College Swansea

Organisation website: www.gowercollegeswansea.ac.uk

 

Category 3: Improving the Business Environment

Austria: Sources of Strength has five clear objectives to improve the manufacturing economy in the Murtal-Murau region. These include building a sustainable image of the industrial/manufacturing economy, positioning this sector as an attractive employer, strengthening the integration of businesses in the region and developing an industrial tourist product and launching this into the tourism market. Since its inception, 61 leading companies have come together to strengthen the integration of industry and trade services in the region.

Responsible organisation: Industrie- und Wirtschaftsentwicklung Murtal GmbH

Project website: http://kraft.dasmurtal.at

 

Italy: Grow and Compete with Business Network Contracts promotes and disseminates a business contract culture and to support companies interested in setting up business networks, particularly to facilitate internationalisation processes and increase competitiveness in foreign markets. The project includes a training phase and a customised support phase for businesses expressing an intention to aggregate through network contracts. So far, the project has led to 12 network contracts being finalised, involving 50 businesses.

Responsible organisation: Unioncamere Emilia-Romagna

Organisation website: www.ucer.camcom.it

 

Spain: Start-up in 3 is a technology platform that streamlines and simplifies business creation and business start-up procedures, linking existing platforms through a single point of access and connecting all the Local Authorities in Spain. The aim of the project is to reduce the time between the establishment of the company and the time it takes for the enterprise to become operational to just three days which is achieved by registering the enterprise through a cloud-based system.

Responsible organisation: Ministry of Finance and Public Administration (MINHAP)

Organisation website: www.minhap.es

 

UK: The Sharp Project has converted a redundant distribution centre into a media hub for over 60 companies, including those specialising in digital content production, digital media and TV and film production. It is where space, power, connectivity and people converge in the inspiring surroundings to develop careers and compete on a global stage. The aim of the project is to reduce barriers that prevent creative and digital businesses from growing, creating work and generating wealth.

Responsible organisation: Manchester City Council

Project website: http://www.thesharpproject.co.uk/

 

Category 4: Supporting the Internationalisation of Business

France: The French Label Living Heritage Company focuses on quality assessment and is awarded by the French Government to distinguish companies with excellent craft and industrial skills. Recognised businesses are characterised by a long trading history, innovation capabilities and rare know-how that has helped establish their reputation. Since 2005, the label has been awarded to 1,157 companies, who account for 53,000 jobs and more than €11 billion in cumulative turnover.

Responsible organisation: French Government

Organisation website: http://www.dgcis.gouv.fr/

 

Italy: Mirabilia: European Network of UNESCO Sites links together areas of common historical, cultural and environmental significance for the first time. The project is aimed at creating a network of places recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage sites, but which are lesser known to Italian and international tourism, with the aim of promoting them in a co-ordinated and organised way to Italian and foreign tourists.

Responsible organisation: Matera Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Crafts and Agriculture

Organisation website: www.mt.camcom.it

Project website: www.mirabilianetwork.eu

 

Netherlands: Get in the Ring is a worldwide platform for start-ups to raise capital. It brings together the most promising entrepreneurs from around the world and gives them a chance to secure an investment of up to €1,000,000 by pitching in front of prominent international investors. There have been 1326 participating start-ups attracting over €6million in investments.

Responsible organisation: Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship

Project website: www.getinthering.nl

 

Category 5: Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency

Malta: EU LIFE+ Investing in Water is aimed at identifying water saving measures amongst best practice enterprises, disseminating this information to others and supporting their implementation. The project is focussed on sharing information through face to face meetings, printed materials and an interactive CD, workshops and via the website. The project has identified 26 best practice enterprises and saved an estimated 141 million litres of water per annum.

Responsible organisation: Malta Business Bureau

Organisation website: http://www.mbb.org.mt/

Project website: http://www.investinginwater.org/

 

Portugal: AMS – Thinking Ahead set itself the challenge of becoming ‘the most efficient supplier of tissue on the Iberian Peninsula’, achieving this through innovation and differentiation. It has revolutionized traditional industrial processes by installing a pipeline connection to its pulp supplier; a unique alliance that has reduced CO2 emissions by 11,000 tonnes per year and generated significant competitiveness in external markets.

Responsible organisation: Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade of Portugal, Public Enterprise (“AICEP”) in partnership with AMS Gomà-Camps, S.A. (“AMS”)

Organisation website: http://www.portugalglobal.pt/PT/Paginas/Index.aspxhttp://www.amspt.eu/

 

Turkey: Developing a Widely Applicable, Low-Cost Model for Clean Production in the Textile Finishing Industry is a pioneering project which develops models to reduce the quantity of raw materials used in the textile industries and promote sustainable production. The project has resulted in solid methodologies and processes that can be widely adopted and used by a multitude of manufacturing businesses at almost no cost.

Responsible organisation: Uludağ Textile Exporters Association (UTEA)

Organisation website: www.uib.org.tr

 

Category 6: Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship

France: The Entrepreneurs Team helps young and unskilled people, including those excluded from school, to succeed in employment and autonomy. Offering teaching and coaching based on entrepreneurship, the project involves two main phases; a University Diploma in Business Creation which is accessible to the unqualified, followed by socio-professional support in conjunction with an entrepreneurship advisory body and a University. The project has supported 167 individuals; 23% have successfully created their own business.

Responsible organisation: Association Nationale des Groupements de Créateurs (ANGC)

Organisation website: www.groupement-de-createurs.fr

 

Germany: Wiesbaden Engaged – the corporate citizenship strategy of the city of Wiesbaden – promotes the social sense of responsibility of businesses and entrepreneurs in Wiesbaden. They have developed four key activities within the project; an annual day promoting social engagement, two long term projects promoting integration and employability, an award for engaged businesses to establish a local reputation and participation in a national corporate social responsibility networking and consultation project.

Responsible organisation: Municipality of the City of Wiesbaden – Agency for Social Work

Project website: www.wiesbaden.de

 

Poland: The Construction and Equipping of the Intramunicipal Vocational Rehabilitation Centre aims to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities, particularly mental disabilities, enabling them to participate equally in society and in a professional capacity. The Rehabilitation Centre offers employment within eight departments including catering, laundry, garden maintenance, cleaning and hygiene, assembly/disassembly and recycling. Employees not only earn an income, but also receive training in vocational and social skills to encourage independent living.

Responsible organisation: Polish Association for Persons with Mental Handicap, Szczecin Branch

Organisation website: www.psouuszczecin.org.pl

 

Portugal: DO IT – The idea behind Portuguese Origin is a competition to use the experience, talent and dynamism of Portuguese emigrants to benefit their country of origin. Under the slogan ‘They think of it there, they do it here”, the project aims to select and promote ideas and support the realisation of social entrepreneurship projects which contribute to transforming emigration trends in an effective way for Portuguese society and the country as a whole.

Responsible organisation: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Organisation website: www.gulbenkian.pt

Take a look at past European Enterprise Promotion Awards winners: 2012; 2013; Grand Jury Prize 2006-2012.

European Enterprise Promotion Awards holds 2014 jury meeting

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Members of the EEPA jury and EEPA secretariat meeting in Brussels

Members of the EEPA jury and EEPA secretariat meeting in Brussels

The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) jury met on 9 July, 2014 in Brussels, to consider a record number of entries from 31 countries, including from 28 EU member states.

After much deliberation, 22 projects have been shortlisted. The winners for each of the six categories will be announced at an Awards ceremony at the SME Assembly in October.

The 2014 jury is made up of members of the outgoing Greek Presidency of the Council and the current Italian Presidency along with representatives from government, business, and academia. Joanna Drake from the European Commission’s Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry, chairs the jury.

Projects from the following countries were shortlisted: Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Turkey and the UK.

Find out more about the impact and objectives of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards.

Watch highlights from the 2013 ceremony:

Winners of the 2013 European Enterprise Promotion Awards

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The 2013 EEPAs were presented in Vilnius

The 2013 EEPAs were presented in Vilnius

Category | Grand Jury Prize

A special prize awarded to the entrepreneurial initiative considered the most creative and inspiring in Europe.

Winner

Think Small First – Introduction to Micro Companies in Latvia

Think-Small-First–Introduction-to-Micro-Companies-in-Latvia

The Latvian Chamber Of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) developed Think Small First to help bring Latvia out of the economic crisis.

The initiative has helped micro-enterprises by promoting the creation of a special tax rate and simplified tax accounting system. It has also introduced a micro-credit programme and has made information about launching a business available in one place.

The LCCI has played one of the leading roles in discussions held in the Latvian Parliament, the Saeima. This included initiating amendments of laws to enable implementation of the concept of micro-enterprises. Through support from the Ministry of Economy, the Saeima supported the Micro-Enterprise Tax Law, which came into effect on 1st September 2010. In addition, improvement of the regulatory framework is ongoing, thus providing support to the smallest enterprises.

As a result of this initiative, a total of 28,000 enterprises have utilised the simplified tax accounting system and the number of micro-enterprises in Latvia is continuing to grow.

Overall, the introduction of the concept of micro-enterprises in Latvia has helped to further the country’s rapid economic growth within the European Union and provide a favourable climate for small businesses to operate.

Contact

Lita Kokale, Head of Public Relations

Krišjāņa Valdemāra Iela 35

Riga, LV-1010

info@chamber.lv

www.chamber.lv

 

Category | Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Recognising actions that promote an entrepreneurial culture and mindset. Raising awareness about entrepreneurship in society.

Winner

MyCity, The Finnish Economic Information Office, Finland

The MyCity learning entity is a miniature city, built from mobile wall elements, and includes at least 15 different local and regional enterprises and public services. Students work within his or her own trade in the city and receive wages. They also act as consumers and citizens of the society. Approximately 70 pupils work at the same time at the MyCity site. MyCity, sponsored by the Finish Ministry of Education and Culture, operates in eight different municipalities and 24,000 sixth graders and 1,000 teachers have visited the sites.

Contact

Tomi Alakoski, Executive Director

yrityskyla@tat.fi

www.yrityskyla.fi

www.tat.fi

 

Category | Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills

Recognises regional or local initiatives to improve entrepreneurial, vocational, technical and managerial skills.

Winner

Senior Enterprise, The Mid East Regional Authority, Ireland

Senior Enterprise is specifically designed to encourage a greater involvement with enterprise by those aged 50 and over and to raise awareness of their potential to start a business, acquire or invest in a business started by someone else, or to become a volunteer mentor. To date almost 1,000 individuals over 50 years of age, who have received support from Senior Enterprise in Ireland, the UK and France, have set up new businesses.

Contact

John Byrne, Director

jbyrne@seniorenterprise.ie

www.seniorenterprise.ie

www.mera.ie

 

Category | Improving the Business Environment

Recognising measures to simplify administrative procedures for businesses, particularly for start-ups.

Winner

Starters’ Agreement for Entrepreneurs

The Belgium Starters’ Agreement helps aspiring and existing entrepreneurs to succeed. Entrepreneurs enter into a starters’ agreement with the City of Ghent, Belgium, to draft a business plan, appeal for professional advice and specialist guidance, follow training and development courses and to continue the independent business activity for at least three years in Ghent. With this contract, entrepreneurs can receive support of a maximum of €5,000 for education, professional guidance and investment. All start-ups that have been established as independent enterprises in Ghent for less than two years can apply for a starter’s agreement. One of the most important objectives of the agreement is to increase the success rate of starting companies during their first years and to prevent failures. To date, a total of 171 starters’ agreements have received a positive recommendation by the evaluation committee, with 166 of these approved by the Council of the Mayor and aldermen.

Contact

Ria Dossche, Advisor

ria.dossche@gent.be

http://www.oogent.be/nl/e-loket/start-in-gent

 

Category | Supporting the Internationalisation of Business

Recognises policies to encourage enterprises and particularly small and medium-sized businesses to benefit more from the opportunities offered by markets both inside and outside the European Union.

Winner

Portuguese Shoes: The Sexiest Industry in Europe, Portuguese Association of Footwear Industries, Components, Leather Goods and their Substitutes, Portugal

The Portuguese footwear industry exports more than 95% of its production to the most demanding international markets. In order to allow the sector to continue to take firm steps in a competitive international environment, the APICCAPS, a national business association, with the support of the Compete Programme, has taken various measures to promote Portuguese footwear. The current campaign has helped to promote around 120 SMEs at professional events all around the world. A campaign symbol for Portuguese shoes was developed using the slogan ‘Portuguese Shoes: Designed by the Future’. The image promotes a mark of quality and seeks to establish Portuguese Shoes as a sophisticated innovation. As a result of this strategy, footwear exports have grown more than 20% in the past two years.

Contact

Paulo Gonçalves, Director of Communication

paulogoncalves@mail.apiccaps.pt

www.apiccaps.pt

 

Category | Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency

Recognises policies and initiatives at national, regional or local level that support SME access to green markets and help to improve their resource efficiency through, for example, green skills development and matchmaking as well as funding.

Winner

The Town of Gürsu Developing with Unlimited Clean Energy, Municipality of Gürsu, Turkey

Key aims of the Town of Gürsu project are to increase the use of green energy in Gürsu to prevent environmental pollution caused by the use of fossil fuels, to save energy used for municipal services and to help socio-economic development of the town. Since the initiative began, four innovative applications have been configured, tested and applied. A photovoltaic solar energy plant was developed and Gürsu is now well-known for using clean solar energy in all of its service areas. The project aims to enable Turkey to take a leading role in renewable energy investments at both regional and national levels. Since the project began, Gürsu has obtained 40% of its electricity needs from the sun in the 5 months of winter and 100% in the 7 summer months.

Contact

Hüseyun Özmen, Strategic Planning Division Manager

huseyinozmen@gursu.bel.tr

www.gursu.bel.tr

 

Category | Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship

Recognises regional or local actions promoting corporate social responsibility and sustainable business practices.

Winner

Integration of Disadvantaged People , AV Mobilita s.r.o., Slovakia

AV Mobilita s.r.o. is a sheltered workshop specialising in integrating disabled people into all areas of life. As a pilot organisation, it focused on car repairs and it now co-ordinates other sheltered workshops forming part of the Škoda Handy Disabled Persons Project in Bratislava, Prešov, Banská Bystrica and Žilina. It participates in the cultural, social and sporting activities of Associations of Registered Disabled Persons throughout Slovakia. The scheme has facilitated the smooth integration of disabled people into society through mediation of special-priced vehicle sales and through comprehensive theoretical and practical training of applicants seeking a licence to drive a car. In 2009, the workshop received an award from the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic for the integration of disabled persons into the workplace.

Contact

Klaudia Valušková, Owner of Auto Valušek

klaudia.valuskova@avmobilita.sk

www.avmobilita.sk

Winners of the 2012 European Enterprise Promotion Awards

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Winners of the 2012 European Enterprise Promotion Awards

Winners of the 2012 European Enterprise Promotion Awards

Category | Grand Jury Prize

A special prize awarded to the entrepreneurial initiative considered the most creative and inspiring in Europe

Winner

Making enterprise a realistic option for the hard-to-reach

Outset, YKTO Ltd, United Kingdom

Outset-YKTO

Outset is designed to show the unemployed that self-employment and enterprise is a realistic alternative to unemployment.

Specifically created to help the most vulnerable groups, including the long-term unemployed, recently redundant, under-25s, women, people from minority ethnic backgrounds, people with mental and physical disabilities and those who are over 50 years of age, the programme takes a unique approach to supporting start-ups. A national project that works in urban and rural settings, it seeks to change beliefs about the ability to start a small business.

The project ethos involves using support teams that often have similar challenging backgrounds, come from the same local areas and have had first-hand experience of being self-employed or running a business. Outset actively reaches, through all types of community spaces, from sports centres to Diwali and Chinese New Year festivals to find the people that will benefit most. This in-person outreach is reinforced by highly effective, targeted promotions including radio ads with direct response SMS facilities, quirky and enticing posters, postcards and flyers plus online and email marketing and lots of social media such as Facebook and Twitter. We use normal, jargon-free language.

Since the start of the programme, Outset has engaged with over 6,000 people. Of those, 673 have started a business, together creating 890 jobs. Outset Finance has helped its clients raise £790,258 from a variety of funding sources to either start or expand their business.

Most importantly, the businesses that Outset support do last: survival rates, particularly for women entrepreneurs, far outstrip national averages. Within disadvantaged client groups, conversion rates from engagement to start are approximately 1:5 and Outset’s new business survival rate after four years is over 80%.

Contact

Bev Hurley, Chief Executive

St John’s Innovation Centre, Cowley Road, Cambridge CB4 0WS, UK

bev.hurley@ytko.com

www.outset.biz

 

Category | Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Recognising actions that promote an entrepreneurial culture and mindset and raise awareness about entrepreneurship in society.

Winner

Boosting women’s entrepreneurship by providing easy access to financing Women’s Co-operative Bank Ltd Women’s Co-operative Bank ‘initiative’ Ltd, Cyprus

The Women’s Co-operative Bank seeks to boost women’s entrepreneurship by providing easy access to financing. The organisation identifies gaps in the economy, promotes support programmes for female entrepreneurs and provides free advice and guidance, as well as loans, that are tailor-made to the needs of small business owners. Since the project began, women’s entrepreneurship has increased in Cyprus overall from 12% in 2001, to 28% in 2012.

Contact

Artemis Toumazi, Chairman/Director

Sinergatikos Organismos Protovoulias, Ginekon Kiprou Ltd, 30 Pavlou Valdaseridi Street, Branches 1-4, 6018 Larnaca, Postal Code 42251 6530, Larnaca, Cyprus

womens.coop.bank@cytanet.com.cy

www.womenscoopbank.com.cy

 

Category | Investing in Skills

Recognises regional or local initiatives to improve entrepreneurial, vocational, technical and managerial skills

Winner

Fostering knowledge transfer and digital visualisation

Visualisation Park, Sweden

Visualisation Park in Sweden focuses on the commercial application of digital visualisation technology. Using a business park model, the location in Eksjö offers a home to a cluster of businesses with expertise in this emerging field. They are gathered around Campus i12, which offers a range of vocational courses. 50 partner companies support the educational programmes and the Park provides a meeting place for educational environment and industry to identify and develop projects. Since it was founded in July 2009 the number of partner companies has more than doubled, to over 100. Most importantly, students’ attitudes shifted. More of them are now inclined to be entrepreneurs themselves, either by launching their own start-up or freelancing.

Contact

Joakim Falkäng, Manager

Visualisation Park, Kaserngatan 26, SE-575 35 Eksjö, Sweden

joakim@vispark.se

www.vispark.se

 

Category | Improving the Business Environment

Recognising measures to simplify administrative procedures for businesses, particularly for start-ups

Winner

Tackling difficulties faced by SMEs in urban areas

FaciliTO, Municipality of Turin, Italy

FaciliTO is a model that the Municipality of Turin adopted to tackle the difficulties that small enterprises encounter in struggling urban areas. Micro and small businesses in Turin have faced particular difficulty in accessing credit, which is often due to the absence of project expertise. FaciliTO attempts to meet these needs by providing free consultations to support the development of business plans as well as direct financial support. Over 200 businesses have accessed FaciliTO and 93 of them have received financial support.

Contact

Elisa Rosso, Servizio Fondi europei Innovazione

Sviluppo Economico, Via Braccini 2, Cap 10144, Turin, Italy

elisa.rosso@comune.torino.it

www.comune.torino.it

 

Category | Supporting the Internationalisation of Business

Recognises policies to encourage enterprises and particularly small and medium-sized businesses to benefit more from the opportunities offered by markets both inside and outside the European Union

Winner

Co-operating to bring Douro wines to the world

Douro Boys, Aicep Portugal Global, Portugal

A group of five small wine producers from the Douro region worked together to create the Douro Boys brand. Designed to exchange information and support each other to steadily improve the quality of the wines they produce, the group also aims to co-ordinate a marketing strategy centred on promoting the Douro region and its wines to the world. Between 2002 and 2011, the exports of wine from the five producers increased from €4.7 million to €11 million, an increase of 134%.

Contact

Jorge Holtreman Roquette, Administrator for Quinta do Crasto SA

aicep Portugal Global, Agência para o Investimento e Comércio Externo de Portugal, EPE

O’Porto Bessa Leite Complex, Rua António Bessa Leite, 1430 – 2o Andar, 4150-074 Porto

comercial.pme.nort@portugalglobal.pt

info@douroboys.com

www.portugalglobal.pt

www.douroboys.com

 

Category | Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship

Recognises regional or local actions promoting corporate social responsibility and sustainable business practices

Winner

Supporting disabled people into the workplace, Disabled at Work, Denizli Municipality, Turkey

Disability is a major cause of social exclusion and poverty, primarily due to the lack of employment opportunities. Disabled at Work, a joint Turkish-Dutch project, seeks to change attitudes and support the integration of physically disabled people into the labour market. The group comprises 16 organisations from Turkey and the Netherlands. The projects provide training as well as a matching programme which offers disabled people mentors as they prepare to enter the workforce. At the end of the programme, 194 people had been trained and 65 were employed.

Contact

Ms Pınar GÜLMEZ AĞIRBAŞ, Director of Survey and Project Department

Altıntop Mahallesi Lise Caddesi No:1, 20100 Denizli, Turkey

pgulmez@denizli.bel.tr

www.denizli.bel.tr

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