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Discovering YEC 2021 Finalist Victoria Krah

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“Over the past 1.5 years, the resilience of Europe’s SMEs has been challenged like never
before in recent European history.” This is how the essay that brought Victoria Krah among the finalists in the SME Youth Essay Competition starts.

Today we are finding out more about what motivated Victoria Krah to enter the SME Youth Essay Competition, but also what are her plans for this year. You can read Victoria’s essay here.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

Honestly, the way I stumbled upon the YEC was more or less a coincidence: I was googling for something productive to do, as, due to the pandemic, many of my plans and professional opportunities had been cancelled and I was at that point in time in the process of figuring out what to do. I do enjoy writing and solving and reflecting upon problems, so when I saw the announcement, I though I would give it a try as I had nothing to loose. For this, I would encourage everyone to just give it a try!

What was it like to be announced as a finalist of the 2021 competition?

When I received the email from the SME office in autumn, I thought it was a thank-you-for-your-participation kind of email. It took me actually a couple of hours to reread it and become aware that I was one of the finalists. At first, I was somehow overwhelmed by it, but then it made me very happy obviously. I told my family about it and later on mentioned it to a couple of friends.

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2021?

Sadly, I was only able to attend the SME Assembly in an online format. However, I was very impressed by the organisation and the way the platform worked, which made it very easy to feel included. One can see that the team worked very hard to make it possible- although, unfortunately, I did not get to know fellow finalists Rui and Kristina in person.
If I had to choose one of the many workshops, masterclasses and lectures of this year’s assembly I enjoyed the most, it would probably be the Annual Schumpeter innovation lecture, as it provided a good framework and background knowledge for the rest of the event.

Victoria Krah YEC 2021 Finalist_3

What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2021?

I liked this year’s emphasis on “togetherness”: That, simply put, if we – the EU member states – do not work together, we work against each other. Collaboration is key when tackling bigger hurdles, such as mitigating the economic and social impact of the pandemic and make European economies and societies more resilient and better prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the green and digital transitions particularly.

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

As I actually really enjoy studying and learning, I am currently planning on pursuing a PhD in the field of social sciences, if possible. In particular, I would like to investigate, through a case study, non linear or hybrid wars and the new kinds of (political) weapons being used by some governments in order to disrupt and influence the geopolitical scenario.

See who were her competitors, the other two finalists of this year’s SME Week Youth Essay competition.

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!

Bulgarian Kristina Dimova wins SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2021

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Kristina Dimova, 22 year-old from Bulgaria, was proclaimed a winner of this year’s SME Week Youth Essay Competition during the SME Assembly 2021.

“Change is inevitable. That’s why businesses must adapt or perish. The way they could adapt is by being as human as possible. The main thesis of my essay is that humanity is the key to sustainability not only for the business plan of the company but in the context of management. However, humanity should be combined with key factors such as digital transformation, ecology, and economic growth.”

This was the focus of Kristina’s winning entry which answer the question: “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”.

During the final of the Youth Essay Competition on the third day of the SME Assembly, she also added:

“Crucial to SMEs’ ability to adapt to changing circumstances, will be their willingness to change their management model. Sociocracy would be the “secret ingredient” with four ground rules: consensual decision-making, a hierarchy of circles, double linking between circles, and election of leaders. Sociocracy would also allow businesses to reach the required flexibility to thrive in an ever-changing world.”

The other finalists of this year’s SME Week Youth Essay competition were Victoria Krah, half Spanish, half German, and Rui Teixeira from Portugal.

About Kristina Dimova

Kristina Dimova is currently studying Journalism BA at Sofia University. She had the opportunity to participate in Erasmus+ at the University of Lodz. Her academic interest in journalism continues with her role as a scholar of KAS Media Programme SEE Bulgaria. Her professional interest is connected with her role as an Editor at GoGuide – one of the biggest lifestyle magazines in Sofia – and her experience as a co-founder of Slovo 111 – Youth Media in Bulgaria, which has lasted for a year. She is also part of the team of 9Academy – a business academy for entrepreneurship and personal development as a Content Creator. In the meantime, she works as a Social Media Specialist in a PR agency, in Sofia. She had the chance to see how the European Parliament works as a journalist in a Plenary Session in Strasbourg in 2019. She won a contest for an Essay, held by European Parliament, Bulgaria, and FJMC, Sofia University, and had the chance to be one of the six finalists for the Megalizzi-Niedzielski prize for aspiring journalists, part of the Youth4Regions programme.

Click here to read Kristina’s essay.

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!

SME Assembly – Day 3


The third and final day of the SME Assembly 2021 kicked off with a series of panel discussions and the Youth Essay competition, which 22-year-old Bulgarian Kristina Dimova won.

The morning panel discussions covered environmental, social and governance issues; transfer of business; European scale-up firms; and SME support under the new Multi-annual Financial Framework.
A highlight of the final day of this year’s SME Assembly was the presentation of the top three essays by the finalists in this year’s Youth Essay Competition, with feedback from the Chair of the Youth Essay Jury and Sabine Kerssens, 2020 Youth Essay Competition winner. After the presentations, the audience voted on the winning essay, with the prize going to Kristina Dimova. Congratulations to Kristina for her exceptional essay.

The final discussion on Day 3 of the SME Assembly focused on SME economic performance and the prospects for recovery and resilience in 2022.

Day 3 ended with some policy conclusions from the SME Assembly 2021, presented by Outi Slotboom, Director for Strategy at the European Commission. According to her, the focus on SME policy should focus on digitalization, sustainability and the effort to promote the entrepreneurial spirit, particularly amongst girls and women. MEP Martina Dlabajová and Milena Angelova from the European Economic and Social Committee concluded that economic recovery depends on the successful adaptation of SMEs.

We hope you were able to catch all of the interesting sessions at this year’s assembly. For an overview of the session on Day 1, click here, and here for Day 2. You can also catch some of the highlights on Twitter via @EEPA_EU.

SME Assembly 2021 – A Sneak Peek at This Year’s Programme

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The countdown has begun to the No. 1 event of the year for SMEs and those who support them. The SME Assembly 2021 is set to take place in Portorož, Slovenia on 15-17 November 2021. So let’s take a sneak peek at what you can look forward to.

As we have already announced, this year’s Assembly will be among the first pan-European post-COVID European Commission conferences to be held in person. As such, it promises to be a lively event filled with optimism, showcasing the resilience of Europe’s SMEs.

After kicking off with the keynote Schumpeter ‘Innovation in Enterprise’ Lecture delivered by professor Lučka Kajfež Bogataj, the Assembly will proceed with a packed programme, filled with exciting panel discussions, workshops and masterclasses.

The programme for this year’s event has something for everybody. Among the topics of discussion, there will be a panel on the SME sustainable enterprise. Participants will assess recovery and transition toward a greener and more digital economy and how to continue supporting the enterprise ecosystem in that process.

Culture of enterprise

Another session will focus on how EEPA is helping to build a culture of enterprise. Here, 2021 finalists in the category ‘Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit’, recognising initiatives that promote an entrepreneurial mindset, especially amongst young people and women, will talk about the challenges they have faced and about potential replication across Member States. 

The cherry on top will be the prestigious European Enterprise Promotion and Small and Mid-Caps Awards Ceremony.  Back in September the EEPA jury announced the shortlisted entries across the six categories. During the awards ceremony the EEPA jury will reveals the winner in each category and their selection for the Grand Jury Prize.

Celebrating entrepreneur spirit, the SME Assembly will also be hosting the finals of the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards, which promotes best practices and encourages more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access capital markets via IPOs.  Check out the projects shortlisted for the 2021 finals.

Youth Essay Competition 2021

A key feature of the SME Assembly is the Youth Essay Competition, and this year is no different. There will be a presentation of the top 3 essays by the finalists in this year’s competition, with feedback from the Chair of the Youth Essay Jury and Sabine Kerssens, 2020 Youth Essay Competition Winner. After the presentations, the audience will vote on the winning essay.

This is just a taste of what you can expect at this year’s Assembly. Make sure to visit the Promoting Enterprise portal regularly for updates on the Assembly, its speakers, programme sessions and so on. We are very much looking forward to meeting you in person in Portorož. Don’t forget that you could also follow online some of the key session after registering here.

The Assembly will be subject to a strict COVID protocol coordinated by the European Commission and the Slovenian Presidency. All in-person attendees will be required to present a valid EU Digital COVID certificate demonstrating full vaccination, having recovered or a negative test not older than 24 hours. In addition, there will be on-site testing to provide additional assurance to all SME Assembly delegates and participants.

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 – There’s more time than you thought!

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Great news!! The deadline for submitting entries to this year’s edition of the SME Week Youth Essay Competition is being extended from 26 September to October 3! To those of you, who already submitted their applications – thank you and good luck during the selection process!  But in case you have not started to get your ideas down on paper, the deadline extension will give you the time needed to submit a winning entry. Don’t delay! Register here, and get writing!

So, what do you need to do? Well, the challenge this year is to write about what SMEs need to become sustainable and resilient in the context of COVID-19 and other global challenges. You should think about the competences and skills needed by entrepreneurs in the future and describe three promising and sustainable start-ups in 2030.

According to last year’s winner Sabine Kerssens, the great thing about the competition is how creative and free you can be in your approach. So what are you waiting for? Get thinking about the future skills needed by entrepreneurs; get writing; and get in with a chance to be the winner of this year’s competition.

Are you up to the challenge? To have a chance at winning a trip to the SME Assembly 2021 in Slovenia this November, all you have to do is to submit an essay of no more than 2 500 words in English before 3 October 2021.

You can find all the information you need on this year’s competition in the 2021 Competition launch post. If you have any other questions, you can contact Good luck, get writing and don’t forget to submit.

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

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 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.

SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2021 Launch

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Imagine what a successful and sustainable start-up in 2030 looks like? Which crucial competences and skills do its founders and employees have? What has been the legacy of the COVID pandemic on entrepreneurship, and how have they responded? How have they been supported to meet the twin challenges of digitalisation and sustainability?

Make your voice heard!

In your essay, imagine the story of three different entrepreneurs embarking on a journey to become sustainable start-ups of the future. Describe their stories of success, their struggles, their needs and what key skills and competences they should have in order to start and grow sustainable, resilient SMEs.

The SME Week Youth Essay Competition is launching for the sixth time with a brand new question for the youth of Europe to answer:

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 Youth Essay competition is organised by the European Commission Directorate-General for Single Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. It is an opportunity for 18-25-year-olds to share ideas and viewpoints with key figures and stakeholders in the spheres of enterprise, entrepreneurship and SMEs.

Sounds like an opportunity for you? Then, all you need to do to have a chance at winning a trip to the SME Assembly 2021 in Slovenia this November is to submit your essay of no more than 2 500 words in English before 26 September 2021.

Don’t forget to read through the rules, contact if you have any questions, and SUBMIT before the deadline!


  • The competition is open to all 18 to 25-year-olds from European Member States or COSME partners countries (see the list)
  • Essays should not exceed 2 500 words in length
  • All essays must be in English
  • Only one entry per applicant
  • The deadline for submissions is 26 September 2021
  • The three finalists will be announced in October ahead of SME Week and will compete at a grand finale as part of the SME Assembly, where they will present their essays
  • The final winner will be chosen via a public vote


  • An opportunity to attend and present at the SME Assembly for the three finalists, to present their essays to 500+ Assembly delegates
  • Presentation training before delivering essay live at the SME Assembly 2021
  • Promotion of essays across our communication channels
  • A trip to the 2021 SME Assembly in Slovenia

See Youth Essay Competition 2021 Terms and Conditions.

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

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