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Inspiration from past YEC winners and finalists

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The SME Week Youth Essay Competition (YEC) is now in its 7th edition, so the class of 2022 has a huge number of past winners and finalists from whom it can take inspiration. And as we saw last year, this can be the key to success.

In her acceptance speech, YEC 2021 winner, Kristina Dimova, paid tribute to her predecessor, Sabine Kerssens. Referring to Sabine’s ‘intriguing and complex’ essay, Kristina said that it ‘inspired me even more to participate. I wanted to see if I can do what she did so gracefully – present such an innovative idea in a way everyone can understand it.’

As we now know, Kristina was indeed able to do what Sabine had done. In her essay on the competences and skills entrepreneurs would need in the future, she concluded that ‘the only way the business ecosystem can adapt is to overcome its ego and become human. Not only towards its outside values but toward its employees as well. The Good, The Digital, and The Human are the face of the future.’ Read Kristina’s essay here.

Victoria Krah Ripoll, YEC Finalist 2021

YEC 2021 was a close-run thing. Finalist, Victoria Krah Ripoll described three start-ups that had coped with uncertainty during the pandemic by meeting the challenges of digitalisation and sustainability. ‘However,’ she wrote, ‘there is another fundamental skill without which none of those businesses would have survived or even come to live: creativity. (…) One could argue that creativity is the catalyst for innovating. Indeed, innovation itself could be defined as the victory of creativity.’ Read Victoria’s essay here.

Sabine Kerssens, YEC 2020 Winner

Sabine Kerssens’ YEC 2020 essay, which so inspired Kristina Dimova, tackled the question of how EU policy can best aid entrepreneurs in becoming sustainable and resilient in the context of COVID-19 and other global challenges. Sabine’s answer was by creating a single start-up scale-up market. ‘We need to centralise the journey of young entrepreneurial talents that grow into the multinational CEOs of tomorrow’, she wrote. ‘By learning from their lessons we create a test bed that brings the EU one step closer to connecting all multinationals, SMEs and individuals of Europe.’ Read Sabine’s essay here.

Pablo Pastor Vidal, YEC 2020 finalist

Like Kristina, Sabine overcame some tough competition to win the YEC. 2020 finalist, Pablo Pastor Vidal gave three answers to the question: by focusing on grassroots projects that take account of the needs around them, by not being scared of progress and the digital revolution, and by being aware of new ideas without forgetting old problems. As regards the main lesson he had learned from the pandemic, Pablo wrote, ‘I will always remember how fragile humans are. But at the same time, this individual fragility is what makes us so special, because when we unite, we can be stronger than ever.’ Read Pablo’s essay here.

Radu Dumitrescu, YEC 2019 Winner

In YEC 2019, entrants were challenged to write the speech that they would give to Europe’s entrepreneurs if they had just been named Commissioner for SMEs and Entrepreneurship. Winner, Radu Dumitrescu proposed to speak about measures to which he would apply the ‘Think Small First’ principle. One was encouraging international trade. ‘Small-scale entrepreneurial firms that act locally but sell and buy internationally are the prime movers and employers of society, and we must not forego them in favour of corporate giants’, he wrote. Read Radu’s essay here.

Marija Elena Borg, YEC 2018 Winner

YEC 2018 winner, Marija Elena Borg addressed the question ‘What steps should entrepreneurs and government take to become more innovative?’ She outlied five steps: allocate time for creativity and innovation; surround themselves with creative, inquisitive and proactive people; adopt management skills that will allow for the creation of an innovation culture; invest in public-private partnerships; and expect failures. Marija Elena concluded that ‘people are the primary cause for innovation within both enterprises and government departments.’ Read Marija Elena’s essay here.

For more information on how to enter YEC 2022, click HERE.

Look out for further inspiration on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter.

Youth Essay Competition 2022 – things to keep in mind

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With the 2022 Youth Essay Competition (YEC 2022) having been launched on 30 June, we know that many of you will be steaming ahead with writing your entries. To help you avoid any pitfalls, we’ve put together a list of five things you should keep in mind before you send your essays in.

  1. Check you’re eligible

Before you even start work, the first thing you need to do is to make sure you’re eligible to enter. For this, you have to be aged 18-25 (inclusive) and a citizen of a country that participates in COSME – the EU programme for small and medium-sized enterprises.

The COSME countries are as follows: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine.

2. Stay on topic

As you all doubtless know by now, the theme for YEC 2022 is ‘Our European economies are highly dependent on fossil fuel energies. How can future young entrepreneurs contribute to a more sustainable economy?’ We are sure you have interesting opinions on all kinds of subjects, but when writing your entries we really need you to stay on topic and avoid any (or at least too many) digressions.

3. Don’t write too much

Although we know that you’ve all got a lot of great ideas on what is a really important topic, our jury can only read through so many essays in a day. So keep your writing concise and to the point, and don’t go over 2 500 words or your entry won’t be accepted. Also, remember that we can only accept one entry per applicant.

4. Mind your language

Of course, it’s always easiest to express yourself in your native language. But for a competition like YEC 2022, it’s vital that all of the jury members understand the points you’re making. For this reason, entries have to be in English. What’s more, writing in English will help make sure that your essay is read by as many key business figures as possible.

5. Be on time

Last but not least, the deadline for sending your essays in is 26 September 2022. You can upload them HERE or e-mail them to Any work received after 26 September won’t be considered. So manage your time well and be punctual!

Keep an eye on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal for more tips to help you with your entries, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter.

YEC 2022 now open for entries!

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The moment you have all been waiting for has finally arrived! We are happy to announce the launch of this year’s SME Week Youth Essay Competition (YEC). Now in its 7th edition, the YEC gives 18-25-year-olds a platform to share their bright ideas with key figures and stakeholders involved in enterprise, entrepreneurship and SMEs. Read on for all the details about this year’s competition!

The Youth Essay Competition is organised by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. Every year, the competition aims to focus young minds on resolving a key societal challenge.

This year’s challenge

This year the competition asks young people to think about the theme: Our European economies are highly dependent on fossil fuel energies. How can future young entrepreneurs contribute to a more sustainable economy?

Do you have something to say on this topic and would you like to get your ideas out there? Then the YEC is for you! All you have to do is write a 2,500-word essay in English on the theme above and submit it here before the deadline of 26 September 2022.

The YEC jury will then select three finalists who will attend the SME Assembly in November, where they will present their essays to the 500+ delegates gathered at the assembly. If this sounds scary, don’t worry – you will receive presentation training before the event. The winning essay will then be selected in a public vote. The essays of all the finalists will be promoted across EU channels.

The voice of experience

By giving young people the opportunity to share their views with key players in the world of entrepreneurship, the competition aims to achieve a greater goal – to raise the profile of entrepreneurship as an attractive career choice for young Europeans. European young people have been enthusiastic in their engagement with the competition, so let’s hear from some of them.

For Kristina Dimova from Bulgaria, who won the 2021 edition of YEC, the experience was “a moment of pure bliss.” “Many representatives of various institutions and companies who were in the audience during the competition congratulated me on this thesis. The fact that they have appreciated the youth perspective is what truly made me happy and is the biggest success,” she said.

Sabine Kerssens, the YEC winner in 2020, also found the experience to be extremely positive. “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!” she said.

So – it’s time to get thinking, get typing, and submit. Before you start, read through the rules of the competition and please contact if you have any questions.

You can find more information on the previous editions of the YEC here. We will also follow with more advice and tips to help you with your entries, so make sure to visit the Promoting Enterprise News Portal regularly, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and subscribe to our newsletter.

SME Week Newsletter 2022: Issue #15

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Welcome to the latest edition of the SME Week Newsletter 

In this edition of the SME Week newsletter, we are delighted to remind you that the 2021 EEPA Compendium is now available for download. Every year the Compendium showcases all of the shortlisted projects from the previous year and celebrates their achievements, as well as providing some insight into the Awards process – so make sure you check it out!

Other news in this edition includes the ‘Get Digital – Go Green, and Be Resilient’ call for expressions of interest, which will result in a catalogue of innovative digital solutions from the European Union, Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine to help reduce dependence on fossil fuels and increase economic resilience.

We also announce the members of this year’s EEPA Jury, tease the launch of the seventh edition of the SME Week Youth Essay Competition, and introduce you to some initiatives being implemented across the EU to support Ukrainian refugees fleeing Ukraine, following Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against its neighbour.

As always, we look forward to hearing from you too – so please share with us stories that you believe will be of interest to the wider SME community, along with your news and updates to be featured in an upcoming newsletter, or on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal.



Make sure that you are also following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to stay in the loop!

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    • EEPA 2022 – Meet the European shortlist October 5, 2022
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    • YEC 2022 – You have more time than you thought! September 26, 2022
      Want to know some good news? The deadline for submitting entries to the SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2022 is being extended to October 7! To the early birds who already submitted their applications – thank you and good luck during the selection process! The new deadline extension will give you the time you need to submit […]
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    • The voice of experience: some advice from 2021 YEC winner Kristina Dimova September 14, 2022
      The deadline for participating in this year’s SME Week Youth Essay Competition is almost upon us. But don’t worry – you can still enter, so get writing and make sure to submit your entry by September 26. To inspire you, the YEC winners from 2018, 2019 and 2020 have already shared their top tips and […]
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    • The voice of experience: 2019 YEC winner Radu Dumitrescu has some advice September 7, 2022
      As the September 26 deadline approaches for submitting an entry in this year’s SME Week Youth Essay Competition, on the Promoting Enterprise portal we have been speaking to previous winners to see what advice they have for this year’s participants. We have already heard from 2018 winner Marija Borg. This time it is the turn […]
    • The voice of experience: some wise words from 2020 YEC winner Sabine Kerssens September 1, 2022
      We have already had some top tips from the winners of the 2018 editions of the SME Week Youth Essay Competition. Today, 2020 YEC winner Sabine Kerssens shares her wisdom, enabling this year’s entrants to benefit from her experience. If you are considering entering this year’s competition, perhaps Sabine can give you some inspiration, but […]
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    • The voice of experience: some top tips from 2018 YEC winner Marija Borg August 26, 2022
      As the 26 September deadline for this year’s European SME Week Youth Essay Competition approaches, we asked 2018 winner Marija Elena Borg to share her advice with this year’s cohort and to give them the opportunity to benefit from her experience. You can also read about Marija’s own experience of the YEC here. Marija impressed […]