The European Gateway for Women’s Entrepreneurship (WEgate) is an e-platform launched by the European Commission to support the female entrepreneur community. This e-platform allows female entrepreneurs to connect online, support each other and learn from their collective experience.
Despite making up 52% of the total European population, women only account for 34.4% of self-employed citizens and 30% of start-up entrepreneurs in the EU. The European Commission recognises that these figures are low, and launched WEgate to facilitate much needed discussion, and to put tools at the disposal of female entrepreneurs. On WEgate female entrepreneurs, women considering entrepreneurship as a career and others working to support female entrepreneurship, are able to network, exchange information and become more visible. In addition to being a form of search engine for information and contacts, the platform also encourages publication of updates, company stories, events and news in English, German and French.
The platform will be undergoing some changes and modernisation, and the European Commission would like to know what WEgate users think. In order to participate and give your opinion, make sure to fill out the feedback survey available here.
Cécile Real is the president and founder of Endodiag, a company she set up in 2011 to develop new diagnostic tools for endometriosis, a disease that affects approximately 10% of all women of childbearing age. In her first post on the Promoting Enterprise blog, she told us about her experience in setting up her business. In this post, she tells us more about what her company does and what are the keys to its success.
At Endodiag, we are working on endometriosis, a major health issue that is not yet well known among the general population. Our objective is to change the paradigm of this disease and bring new solutions for patients. We are working with different groups of partners to build awareness about the disease, and change the lives of 180 million women who suffer a lot and who are generally overlooked.
What do we do?
Since we started the company in 2011, we have been developing a diagnostic test, EndoDtect®, to detect the disease from a simple blood sample. This does away with the need for surgery, which costs EUR 10,000 on average and can, like any other type of surgery, be dangerous. Moreover, this will prevent the progression of the disease as well as potentially safeguard the fertility of patients.
To develop this test, we need to collaborate with different kinds of partners and we have tried to involve them as early as possible in our project.
Our employees and co-founders:
Something essential for our company to be successful is team work. We need talented people to find cures for this tricky disease but, even more important than their talent, we need to mix people with different mind-sets and backgrounds and make sure that we all work well together. This is probably how the most creative ideas and solutions have been achieved in our project.
Like a recipe, each member of the team contributes his/her ideas, know-how and energy
- The surgeons, gynecologists and scientists:
We work hand by hand with surgeons and scientists to understand the disease mechanism and the needs of healthcare professionals for their patients. Our job could be defined as acting as a translator between science, medicine and engineering to transform ideas into products.
- The patients:
The patients are at the heart of our work, but it is not common in our industry to work with them during early stage development of new ideas, new solutions or new products. We have been lucky to meet many of them just after starting the company and this has been both very helpful and very inspiring. Very helpful because, by discussing with them we understood more rapidly certain symptoms/reactions and could correlate them with some of our research findings. This has helped speed up our R&D. And very inspiring, because listening to their suffering and struggles really makes you very motivated to solve the problem.
Despite these collaborations, we rapidly understood that developing technological solutions was necessary to change the paradigm of this disease, but that if we did not also raise awareness about endometriosis, we would only be solving half of the problem. If the population, the doctors and public institutions are not aware of endometriosis, its symptoms and consequences, it will be very difficult to detect the disease early and manage the patients well.
In order to raise awareness, in 2013 we launched OZ2020 in collaboration with patient associations, gynecologists, scientists and BePatient (a start-up specialised in the development of eHealth solutions). OZ2020 is a web community on endometriosis. The platform contributes to raising awareness but also provides patients with qualified and validated scientific and medical information on endometriosis and helps support endometriosis research projects.
We remain convinced that, thanks to all our common efforts with patient associations, industry, doctors and public authorities, the time to say “women don’t need to suffer anymore” will soon be here.
Lina Tsaltampasi is the owner of OCEON Group, a business and development consultancy she set up in 2003. In this post, Lina talks about her experience as a woman in the international business environment.
Hi there! I am Lina Tsaltampasi, I live in Thessaloniki, Greece and I own OECON Group. People ask me what I do for living and I tell them that I am a Business Development Consultant. My kids say that this is a lie; because I’m actually a juggler…well perhaps this is also true. Being a mom, wife, daughter and a businesswoman in the field of international business sometimes makes you feel like a juggler (a good one I hope).
My business is oriented towards developing extroversion and internationalisation for SMEs and stakeholders. As you can imagine this type of business requires frequent travel. Trips mean less available family time, less personal time. So, you have to make choices. The first step you take in being an entrepreneur is making choices. Choices about how you are going to spend or invest your time, choices about resources (there is usually a lack of all types of resources at the beginning), choices about lifestyle. But your business is something that you also chose to nurture; it is your child too.
Being a woman in international business is even tougher. Airports become your home, and you notice that frequent flyers, especially to third countries, are mostly male. In Greece, female unemployment is currently running at almost 67%. Eighty per cent of women entrepreneurship is in traditionally female sectors. Achieving your goals in a competitive environment demands hard work and personal sacrifices. But once you have achieved it, there is an immense sense of satisfaction.
In OECON Group we just have started a MEGA project with a Chinese public counterpart. To us, this seems as large a challenge as climbing Mt. Everest. So, now we’ll have the chance to try out our climbing skills… With this project we are developing a Trade Support Gate for transactions between Europe and China. This will result in actual benefits for SMEs, since this Trade Support Gate will enable even smaller companies to have safe transactions with China.
For us, being a typical European SME, it seemed very ambitious to get involved in such a huge deal. Although we might be little dreamers, nevertheless we believe that we, and other SMEs, can be part of bigger projects. We have already gone against all the odds up to now. We developed our biggest projects over the last five years, the years of global recession, the years of the Greek crisis, the years of non-existing bank finance….so yes, everything is possible.
My business is part of who I am. If I had listened to people around me I might have quit. Many times, people tried to discourage me, telling me that this is not a job for you. I replied to them this job is me. Being a woman, you will be told many times what you should do. Just tell everybody what you want to do, and just DO it. Gender is not an obstacle. Gender is who you are.
MBA students in Amsterdam and Brussels were asked for their views on the disadvantages faced by various groups of entrepreneurs: women entrepreneurs, disabled entrepreneurs, migrant entrepreneurs and others, with some surprising feedback.
On women entrepreneurs
Suzanne from Slovenia is a fashion major. “According to Eurostat, women account for around 60 % of MBA students and it’s even higher in my country, so right now the majority of young people entering business are women. Our real challenge is still the traditional bias against women in business but we have the same access to resources so I don’t see the problem.”
Houng, from Vietnam and planning on a business career in luxury goods, added, “Women are generally better educated than our male contemporaries, we have better interpersonal skills and have a lower feeling of entitlement. Perhaps it is males who are now ‘disadvantaged’.”
Hans from the Netherlands reluctantly agreed. “My experience is that women are generally better placed in terms of raising finance as there are so many lenders who only lend to women. And women are now entering every field, even those traditional male-orientated ones like construction. They’re competing on a level playing field.”
On being a foreigner
Marko from Estonia is planning on starting a business in the Netherlands. “The biggest challenge of all is the language. If you can’t read, write and speak the language then it is really difficult to cope with the official rules and regulations. In my own country this wouldn’t be a problem, but here I have to rely on my partner and her father.”
Arati from India finds the challenge is cultural. “Being a woman is not the issue but being Indian presents problems. With people my age they don’t care that I’m brown and culturally exotic, but when I have to talk to the government agencies I feel very excluded.”
Omar, who was born in Belgium of Moroccan parents, agreed. “There are still a lot of cultural and even racial issues with the older people. I come from Brussels and there is a large Moroccan community to support me but getting to see Belgium customers can be a real challenge, especially after the terrorist attacks.”
Adan, a Syrian who has been granted asylum in Belgium and is working his way through college, had a slightly different story. “I’m a refugee and there is very little support from the state, and the job I’ve got is the type the locals wouldn’t do but it means I have a competitive advantage. I don’t think I’ll be able to start a business here until I can speak French fluently but even then the locals don’t trust us and I get hassled all the time because I’m Syrian.”
On being disabled
Manon from Belgium uses a wheelchair after a car accident five years ago. “Wheelchair access is the biggest barrier to a business career. This is the first business school where I’ve had easy access and that means I can get the sort of education that I need to be successful. All new buildings have such access of course but I still can’t get into some offices. I don’t need special conditions except I do need things to be at my height.”
All the students had a common theme: being an entrepreneur is about doing what you can with what you have rather than expecting special treatment. The challenges and barriers they discussed were all surmountable and most were based on interpersonal behaviour rather than real difficulties. Of course, there are many other people who would disagree with them, and some interesting perspectives can be found at the following links.
Photo credit: ©iStock/julie514
The motto of this year’s gathering is “Europe Works For SMEs: Forward. Together.” Following the tremendous success over three years, the 2015 SME Assembly is set to be yet again the most important European event for SME policy. This time more than ever we are inviting you to develop SME policy together and co-create innovative ways of cooperation to ensure effective support for entrepreneurs. To this end we are inviting well-known and new partners from the world of business, academia, policy making and media. We will be honoured by the presence of HRH The Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, in particular for an interactive discussion about women entrepreneurship.
For the first time, the SME Assembly 2015 will feature an exceptional session, which may be shaped by interested National Coordinators. Another first, the Netherlands will hold a European edition of the TEDx Binnenhof event in late March 2016.
TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world in the form of short, powerful talks. 10 entrepreneurs with great ideas and innovative solutions for the challenges Europe and the world are facing will present their inspiring thoughts at this special TEDxBinnenhof in the Netherlands. To find these 10 the following process will be starting soon: local TEDx organisers in the Member States in cooperation with SME Envoys will choose their national candidate.
On our side we would also like to encourage the national SME Week Coordinators to assist this process, in as far as it is relevant for you. Should you be interested, please contact: GROW-SME-WEEK-ADMIN@ec.europa.eu
The SME Assembly will also be the focus of the European SME Week; and will host the presentation of the 2015 European Enterprise Promotion Awards. We are also proud to say that we are teaming up with the Start-Up community in Luxembourg who will hold a Start-up weekend right after the formal end of the SME Assembly; for those interested there will a possibility to experience entrepreneurship in action.
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.aspx, http://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
Preparations are being finalised for the the 2014 SME Assembly, taking place in Naples, Italy from 1-3 October, during European SME Week are very much underway. The theme of the 2014 conference will be “Growth Through Enterprise: The Opportunities Ahead”.
In 2014, there will be two new sessions:
Whether it is funding for research and innovation, support in accessing new markets, or exchanges for new entrepreneurs, the European Commission runs a variety of programmes to help SMEs set up, grow and take on new people. This session will tell the story of how EC programmes have helped European SMEs to grow into world class businesses, have encouraged would be entrepreneurs to follow their dreams, and have empowered women in the workplace. The audience will hear testimonials from entrepreneurs and managers of successful SMEs and startups and will be able to quiz them on the realities of building an enterprise in the 21st century.
Ever wanted to be an angel investor? This is a chance for the audience to become investors for the day and for local entrepreneurs to rehearse their pitch to investors. Just as in the real world, teams of start up entrepreneurs will present the case for financial investment in their idea. They will be quizzed by experienced serial entrepreneurs and then the audience will vote on which team they think would be worth funding.
Policy sessions and The Big Debate
There will also be a range of policy sessions based on topics such as “Access to Finance” with Ilja Laura, founder of GetJar. The “Entrepreneurship Forum” will feature live and recorded interviews with European entrepreneurs and managers of successful SMEs and startups along with testimonials from entrepreneurs that have benefitted from EU enterprise support programmes.
Throughout the SME Assembly, there will also be the annual exhibition “The Entrepreneur Expo,” which is a key focus for SME Week. Entrepreneurs from across Europe will gather to showcase their latest innovations.
One of the major sessions will be the Big Debate which is centred on the motion “Thanks to digital technology, everyone can become a successful entrepreneur.” Participants include Mike Sikorski, CEO of huggity and it promises to be a lively debate.
The six European Enterprise Promotion Awards categories are:
Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit
Recognises initiatives at national, regional or local level that promote an entrepreneurial mindset especially among young people and women.
Investing in entrepreneurial skills
Recognises initiatives at national, regional or local level to improve entrepreneurial and managerial skills.
Improving the business environment
Recognises innovative policies at national, regional or local level which promote enterprise start-up and growth, simplify legislative and administrative procedures for businesses and implement the “Think Small First” principle in favour of small and medium-sized enterprises.
Supporting the internationalisation of business
Recognises policies and initiatives that encourage at national, regional or local level enterprise and particularly small and medium-sized businesses to benefit more from the opportunities offered by markets both inside and outside the European Union.
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.
Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship
Recognises national, regional or local initiatives by authorities or public/private partnerships that promote corporate social responsibility among small and medium sized enterprises. This category will also recognise efforts to promote entrepreneurship among disadvantaged groups such as the unemployed, especially long term unemployed, legal migrants, disabled or people from ethnic minorities.
The Grand Jury Prize can be from any category and will go to the entry considered the most creative and inspiring entrepreneurship initiative in Europe.
Category | Grand Jury Prize
A special prize awarded to the entrepreneurial initiative considered the most creative and inspiring in Europe
Making enterprise a realistic option for the hard-to-reach
Outset, YKTO Ltd, United Kingdom
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%.
Bev Hurley, Chief Executive
St John’s Innovation Centre, Cowley Road, Cambridge CB4 0WS, UK
Category | Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Recognising actions that promote an entrepreneurial culture and mindset and raise awareness about entrepreneurship in society.
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.
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
Category | Investing in Skills
Recognises regional or local initiatives to improve entrepreneurial, vocational, technical and managerial skills
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.
Joakim Falkäng, Manager
Visualisation Park, Kaserngatan 26, SE-575 35 Eksjö, Sweden
Category | Improving the Business Environment
Recognising measures to simplify administrative procedures for businesses, particularly for start-ups
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.
Elisa Rosso, Servizio Fondi europei Innovazione
Sviluppo Economico, Via Braccini 2, Cap 10144, Turin, Italy
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
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%.
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
Category | Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship
Recognises regional or local actions promoting corporate social responsibility and sustainable business practices
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.
Ms Pınar GÜLMEZ AĞIRBAŞ, Director of Survey and Project Department
Altıntop Mahallesi Lise Caddesi No:1, 20100 Denizli, Turkey