Young voices, innovative ideas – Meet Youth Essay Competition finalist Enzo

We are back with another SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2019 finalist! Today we are speaking to Enzo Ercole Ribagnac from France, who made himself stand out to the jury with his 1st submission that detailed the speech he would give as the new EU Commissioner for SMEs and Entrepreneurship.

In his speech Enzo drew on his own experience growing up in a family of entrepreneurs, and likened founders to founding members, and business shareholders to the European Member States. He spoke of the need to take risks and collaborate to bring initiatives to life, and the European challenge of supporting small and medium sized enterprises. He also emphasised and proposed actions surrounding: Developing entrepreneurship spirit and skills across the Union, Supporting innovations to play a leading role on the global market and Facilitating internationalization and access to markets.

Read Enzo’s speech here.

After impressing the jury in Round 1, Enzo made it to the Top 10 shortlist, where he impressed the jury once again with his second submission that focused on the need to incorporate the “Think Small First Principle” with regards to SMEs, the need to equip SMEs to fight against unfair advantages of big foreign tech companies and to create opportunities for SMEs to communicate with the European institutions.

Read Enzo’s second submission here.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

Several factors influenced my entry in the competition. When I first saw the advert, I was an intern in a European project funded by the DG Grow and related to SMEs. This experience helped me to accumulate a lot of knowledge concerning European SMEs struggles in Europe and abroad. After the internship I moved to Italy during the summer to study Italian. This gave me plenty of time to think about my essay, use the knowledge I had accumulated but also try to include my personal experience. Both my parents are small entrepreneurs in the French West Indies and their business is often part of our family’s discussions. All things considered, I think I entered the competition because I had a lot to say and time to work on a submission that I was proud of and that reflected my opinion and ideas.

How did you feel when you found out that you were going to Helsinki?

I actually couldn’t believe it! I have participated in a lot of public speaking competitions before, but it was the very first time that my writing skills were recognised. I remember being on public transport when I received the “congrats email”, and I literally stopped at the next station to call a friend and tell them the news. I guess you could say I was a little bit overexcited at first.

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2019?

It was a unique event, and a great opportunity. When you think about it, our market is so large with various countries and languages, and our SMEs are so diverse and numerous. So, to build an event that brings together representatives from all sectors, from all types of companies that can discuss all issues is kind of an impossible recipe. Yet somehow it is made possible, and each year is a success!

What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2019?

I think all informal meetings and advice I took from professionals attending are my main takeaway. When I was at the event, I was a soon-to-be-graduated student looking for an end-of-studies career opportunity. Thus, I had a lot of questions about the sector, the challenges and future of European policies and also about the “European bubble”. All the people I met were very kind and took time to answer my questions and discuss further things with me. This did not stop after the Assembly and I am still in contact with most of them.

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

Well, I will be a Bluebook trainee at the European Commission in the Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (GROW), the same that organised the SME Assembly. It will be my first experience in Brussels and it’s exactly what I wanted to do. I have to say the SME Assembly and the Youth Essay Competition helped me to reach this goal!

Congratulations Enzo on being a 2019 finalist and good luck with your traineeship! Want to hear from another 2019 finalist? Come back to the News Portal next week to find out who we will talk to next…stay tuned!

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