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Youth Essay Competition 2021 – Who is going to the final in Slovenia?

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Are you prepared to discover the finalists of this year’s Youth Essay Competition? After narrowing the entries to the top 10, the jury met and selected the top 3 candidates who will compete during the SME Assembly 2021.

After rounds of discussion, the jury proudly announced the 3 finalists:

Congratulations to the 2021 Youth Essay Competition finalists!

Don’t forget to go through what Victoria, Rui and Kristina have written and join us at the SME Assembly 2021 to participate and vote to choose our 2021 Youth Essay Competition Winner!

More about the SME Assembly 2021

This year’s SME Assembly focused on Togetherness + Resilience = Recovery, will bring together actors from across the European and international enterprise ecosystems, including citizens, businesses and policymakers, to build a more sustainable and resilient future together. From 15-17 November 2021, the beautiful city of Portorož in Slovenia, and the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, will play host to the flagship event of the 2021 European SME Week, the SME Assembly.

Check out the latest news on the SME Assembly and the Youth Essay Competition by regularly visiting the Promoting Enterprise blog. Subscribe to the SME Week Newsletter to stay up to date!

YEC 2021 – How to write a winning entry

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You would like to take part in this year’s SME Week Youth Essay Competition but need a little inspiration to get started? We have just what you need! To give you that much-needed push, we asked last year’s winner and finalists for some tips on approaching this year’s question.

Just to remind you, this year, the question is:

What do SMEs need to become sustainable and resilient in the context of COVID-19 and other global challenges? Think about the competences and skills needed in the future for an entrepreneur, describe three promising and sustainable start-ups in 2030.

The question we put to our alumni was “How would you approach the 2021 question?” This is what they had to say:

“This year’s question has a lot of interesting angles to it. It allows you to dream about the future, but also asks you what start-ups would need to get to that bright future. I would make that bridge clear, what global challenges do start-ups face now, and what do they need to arrive in the future successfully.” Sabine Kerssens, 2020 winner

“I love this question because I think is very practical. I have read tons of interesting articles and academic papers that talk about this topic with big numbers, saying that technology is the key or that big corporations will get rid of manual work. But I think we also need some people that are creative and put resources in place to make a circular economy possible in their communities or that advise governments about the consequences of more developed Artificial Intelligence in our daily lives. Perhaps some SMEs that are inclusive with the elderly and do not forget that they are also part of the future could be an incredible step forward too. And these are just some quick examples: the key is to reverse negative trends in our society.” Pablo Pastor, 2020 finalist

“Last year, the question was so relevant at the time to the work I was doing, so I approached it with my own personal experiences of social enterprise and essentially answered the question as if I was convincing everybody else to come and join me on the social enterprise journey! For this year’s question, I would definitely reflect on the characteristics and traits you think you possess, or that you want to develop, and how you think these are conducive to setting up a business. I’d also bring in any local start-up’s to me – the Youth Essay Competition is the time to shine a light on the work people are doing around you, so I’d be highlighting the work of start-up’s in Wales and bringing them to the European stage!” Geena Whiteman, 2020 finalist

Have our alumni inspired you to get creative? We hope so! There is still time before the September 26 deadline to submit your entries. You can read more about the 2021 competition here, and if you have any questions, contact us at smeweek@loweurope.eu.

YEC 2021 – Why YOU should enter!

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In July, the European Commission launched the 6th edition of the SME Week Youth Essay Competition. If you are 18-25 years old and from an EU or COSME country, the essay competition is an opportunity for you to speak your mind and share your opinions with EU policy-makers, entrepreneurs and innovators.

The challenge this year is to write an essay about: What do SMEs need to become sustainable and resilient in the context of COVID-19 and other global challenges? Think about the competences and skills needed in the future for an entrepreneur, describe three promising and sustainable start-ups in 2030.

You have until 26 September 2020 to submit your entries, so there is still some time. To give you a bit of encouragement, we asked last year’s winner and finalists if they had any advice for this year’s participants.

“The great thing about this competition is how creative and free you can be in your approach. Read some of the older entries, get inspired, then forget all of them and build your own thing! You can do it!” Sabine Kerssens, 2020 winner

“Think about what makes you angry, about what you want to change in the world. Sometimes we want to be too rational to seem technical, but in reality, when you start an enterprise, it is because there is a very simple problem. For example, if you are a baker, you are providing an essential good for the people around you: food. And sometimes people just start to work in automatic pilot and forget why they do things, or they think their work is nonsense. This is part of the reason why some enterprises die: they forget the reason why they exist, or they don’t want to ask themselves that question. The same goes for writing an essay that wants to make us reflect and see the world in another way. In short, feelings are very powerful catalysts for change.” Pablo Pastor, 2020 finalist

“Brainstorm your ideas, take a little break from it, come back and expand on all these ideas. I wrote about five essays, answering the same question in different ways, and essentially hosted an X Factor – evicting an essay from the running on each round of reviewing! This helped me because it gave me the chance to explore all the avenues I was interested in, hash them out completely, and then refine it down to the one I felt most passionate about.” Geena Whiteman, 2020 finalist

We hope that this excellent advice will get your creative juices flowing – so get writing, and good luck!

For any questions on the SME Week Youth Essay competition, contact smeweek@loweurope.eu and read the 2021 competition launch post for all of the information on this year’s edition. Good luck, get writing and don’t forget to submit!

YEC 2021 – Catching up with 2020 Winner Sabine Kerssens

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Photo by Carly Wollaert

Today on Promoting Enterprise we are catching up with last year’s Youth Essay Competition winner, Sabine Kerssens. Last year, Sabine impressed the competition jury with her ideas about the importance of cross-border collaboration and how learning from different cultures makes innovation more inclusive. So, what has she been up to since her success in the competition?

What have you been doing since winning the Youth Essay Competition?

For many Dutch people, normalcy is the glue that holds the world together. We say: “Just act normal, as that’s crazy enough.” However, if you have a dream to be a change-maker, launching a start-up that is going to disrupt the world, this mindset might hold you back. Soon I will launch a report to quantify entrepreneurial culture in the Netherlands and abroad!

What was the best part about entering the Youth Essay Competition?

You might be young when you participate, but someday (now?) the future of the world will rest on your shoulders too. The Youth Essay Competition is a great start to participating in a greener and happier world. It helps you get your thoughts aligned, practice getting that message to your audience through writing, and be heard!

What did you learn from the Youth Essay competition experience?

If no one understands you, it doesn’t really matter how brilliant your idea is. A really big part of this competition is not just being young and having an opinion, you also have to write an essay that people would like to read. This is the start of improving my writing, speaking and non-verbal communication.

Do you have any exciting projects that you would like to share?

I help Dutch start-ups and scale-ups thrive. My projects provide a data-driven journey for innovators to scale. Risk-taking change-makers should be able to rely on and accelerate through the knowledge and experience of generations, and I am here to help. So, if you have ideas or thoughts on last year’s essay, on what innovators need or on what I should be researching next: please reach out via LinkedIn!

We published an interview with Sabine on Promoting Enterprise site after she won the competition last year. You can read it here.

There is still some time left before the September 26 deadline for this year’s competition, so if you have some ideas to address this year’s challenge, why not follow in Sabine’s footsteps and submit an entry.

Follow us for competition updates on TwitterFacebook and Instagram and make sure to follow and use the hashtag #YEC2021.

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