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The voice of experience: some top tips from 2018 YEC winner Marija Borg

As the 26 September deadline for this year’s European SME Week Youth Essay Competition [1] 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 [2].


Marija impressed the 2018 jury with her essay on the links between innovation and the holistic growth of organisations, and then went on to win the audience vote when she presented her essay at the SME Assembly 2018 in Graz, Austria.

Since her participation in the competition, Marija has moved to Brussels, where she is serving as a technical attaché at the Permanent Representation of Malta to the European Union. We asked her for some advice for this year’s competitors, read on to see what she had to say!


How would you approach this year’s theme?

This year’s theme enables participants to reflect on how a more sustainable economy can be achieved in practice. A substantial reduction in our dependency on fossil fuel energy is therefore a must. From my point of view, great importance should be given to two primary factors: (i) energy-saving initiatives and inventions; as well as (ii) alternative energy sources.

Why should young people participate in this competition?

Besides giving participants the chance to share innovative ideas with changemakers, this competition also provides short-listed candidates with the opportunity to network and explore ideas directly with the (500+!) attendees of the SME Assembly. This bodes well for young people with a keen interest in EU and global affairs.

Do you have any advice for the 2022 competitors?

My advice is rather simple: Think of YEC as the perfect channel to pitch your best ideas to an EU-wide audience. It’s naturally crucial to stay on topic and write concisely – do not simply regurgitate the information you come across but give it a personal twist!

Where are you now? How did winning the Youth Essay Competition inspire and impact your life?

EU affairs have always been of interest to me, even before I took part in the YEC in 2018. Since winning the competition, however, I have been inspired to contribute more actively to the policy-making process, especially in my capacity of Manager at the Malta Business Bureau, i.e. the EU advisory office of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. Earlier this year, I was given the opportunity to relocate to Brussels and have now assumed the role of Technical Attaché (EU Funds and Programming) at Malta’s Permanent Representation to the EU.

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 [6] before the deadline of 26 September 2022.

The YEC jury will select three finalists to attend the SME Assembly in Prague 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 [7]. 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 [8] regularly, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter [9], Facebook [10] and Instagram [11] accounts and subscribe to our newsletter [12].