The voice of experience: 2019 YEC winner Radu Dumitrescu has some advice

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 of 2019 winner Radu Dumitrescu.

In 2019, the competition asked young people aged 18-25 to prepare a speech from the perspective of the new Commissioner for SMEs and Entrepreneurship addressed to Europe’s entrepreneurs. Radu impressed the jury with his entry Silicon Europe 2030, outlining proposed measures to support European SMEs. Radu has some top tips for this year’s entrants, so read on to see what he has to say!

How would you approach this year’s theme?

Energy has proven to be a crucial topic for policies in the coming years. Young European entrepreneurs and their peers are among the most aware of our fossil fuel dependency, not to mention its environmental and even political costs. They see it as a heavy iron ball connected to our feet by a chain that is proving hard to break. As citizens and entrepreneurs, I believe they’ve realized that we’ve been using fossil fuels from countries ruled by authoritarian governments for far too long now, propping them up with our money.

A more sustainable European economy not only means smog-free cities, healthier food, and better overall quality of life. It means a safer, more democratic, freer Europe. A greener EU, and not one that simply exports its pollution, could have rendered Putin powerless, starved of funds and unable to invade a peaceful neighbor like Ukraine, uprooting millions.

If I were a contestant approaching this year’s theme, I would try to move past too familiar, albeit essential, arguments for sustainability. I would instead argue that we have a moral duty, as young entrepreneurs, to spearhead a more sustainable European economy not only for generations to come, but also for the countless people who now live under the boot of resource-rich autocrats that we subsidise.

Why should young people participate in this competition?

I still remember my time at the SME Week Youth Essay Competition in Finland. Simultaneously nervous and excited, I took to the stage and shared my thoughts on what mattered for our shared European economies. What’s more, I was doing it in front of Europe’s star entrepreneurs, representatives of various businesses associations, not to mention European officials. It’s a unique position to be in, especially when you’re young, and if I had the chance to do it again, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

Winning gave me the confidence to speak in public more, to put my ideas on paper. I went on to be awarded the Charlemagne Prize Fellowship for 2020/2021 with a project on the future of manufacturing in Europe. I am not an economist, nor did I have heaps of experience when it came to the field, but I was confident in my abilities to formulate an idea that had to be heard, just like I had in the YEC.

Do you have any advice for the 2022 competitors?

I think this year’s competitors should be bold, as befits youngsters. They should be confident in their ideas, even if they’re not the most mainstream ones. I am absolutely sure that I don’t need to remind young European entrepreneurs that innovation can come from anywhere, including themselves. They should let their voices be heard, because their absence would only make our Europe poorer.

Tell us a bit about where you are now, what winning the competition meant for you, how it benefited you.

It’s never easy to get on a stage and speak, and in some sense, after getting on it in Helsinki, I never got off. Winning YEC in 2019 gave me the confidence to apply for the Charlemagne Prize Academy Fellowship, and then press on with my doctoral thesis on populism, which I am finishing this year. It is almost as if I proved to myself that I can do well when I speak and write back then, because I’m now doing both professionally, you could say. I became a journalist at Romania Insider, writing news pieces in English on business, politics, and social topics each day. I also started a small YouTube channel, with some success. I’ve also grown personally, developing my knowledge in business and economy, which seemed somewhat off-limits to me beforehand, as domains that were only to be approached by those wiser and older. Participating, not to mention winning, in the YEC made me into a more well rounded individual. I wish that for every participant.

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?

Are you full of ideas on how to reduce our fossil fuel dependence and eager to share them with a Europe-wide audience? Then the SME Week Youth Essay Competition is an opportunity not to be missed! 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 select three finalists to attend the SME Assembly in November, where they will present their essays to the 500+ delegates gathered at the assembly. The winning essay will then be selected in a public vote. The essays of all the finalists will be promoted across EU channels.

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.

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