Many people of different ages decide that they want to do business, but do not have the opportunity to gain experience, practice or take on projects. They are the ones who are helped to move through various programmes, including the Erasmus Program for Young Entrepreneurs.
The just mentioned program allows novice entrepreneurs to travel abroad for a few months and gain knowledge from well-established entrepreneurs running small to mid-sized businesses. Giorgio Doviji, Secretary General of the Italian-Slovak Chamber of Commerce, spoke to the Noizz.sk portal about more about the programme, conditions and possibilities.
Slovaks have the opportunity to use the Erasmus Program for Young Entrepreneurs. what is he talking about?
It is a program of the European Commission, which offers promising and novice entrepreneurs the opportunity to travel abroad for a period of one to six months, thus learning from experienced entrepreneurs from other participating countries on how to run a business. At the same time, they will receive a financial contribution that partially covers the costs associated with their stay. Participants must be at least 18 years old, and there is no upper age limit.
People who have already started their own startup and want to know how to develop it can join the program. However, it is also an opportunity for those who have never run their own business and would like to know what the business involves. This experience will help them decide whether or not they will eventually become entrepreneurs. The program does not obligate them to start a real business after the end of their residency. Finally, long-term entrepreneurs are also available here, who want to pass on their professional advice to others and gain added value for their company.
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What criteria must an applicant meet to complete the programme?
As mentioned earlier, people who have never done business before and want to know what it looks like can also join the program. If someone already has their own business, their business experience at the time of enrollment in the program should not last more than 3 years. It is essential that you have a business plan and present it in the form of a business plan. These participants must register in the country where they have permanent residence, respectively. Where they are currently for a long time. For people who have been in business for more than 3 years and also want to travel abroad, we have a different programme.
Photo: SF Archive
The project lasts from 1 to 6 months. Why this long stay?
The length of stay depends on the activity plan that the novice entrepreneur develops with the host entrepreneur. In it, they formulate their goals, plan specific activities and specify the results that they want to achieve. At the same time, many entrepreneurs have to take into account their other business responsibilities and adjust their length of stay accordingly. The program gives participants some flexibility. They can divide the agreed period into several time periods. It is also possible to request an extension of stay for a maximum period of 6 months.
It must be completed abroad. Is full knowledge of foreign languages necessary?
Complete knowledge of foreign languages is not necessary, but the ability to communicate in a foreign language is an essential aspect of successful cooperation between the startup and the host entrepreneur. Thus, it is up to the participants themselves to decide which country they decide to travel to or from which they will hire an entrepreneur. Although there are no specific requirements in this regard, it is recommended that participants are proficient in the language they will use during their stay, at a level that will enable them to communicate with the host entrepreneur.
Can the applicant choose the country to which he will travel or will he be appointed?
Participants can choose which country they are traveling to. It is essential for them to find a suitable host entrepreneur and establish contact with them prior to the actual stay. The program has a database, which currently contains several thousand start-up and host entrepreneurs. Participants can decide whether they want to contact entrepreneurs from this database or search for a company that is not in the database, but they can register in it at any time.
What does the participant in the program do, what is his work or content?
The scope of cooperation is the implementation of joint activities planned by the entrepreneurs. They need to explain each other’s expectations beforehand to each other and agree on how the collaboration will happen and what they both want to benefit from. The novice entrepreneur will actively participate in the activities that the host entrepreneur carries out with his team. At the same time, he will be able to present his own ideas and contribute to the development of the entrepreneur’s services or products. On the other hand, the host entrepreneur will explain to him how the project works, provide him with direction for his own activities and help him acquire the necessary skills.
What will participants learn from this program? What should be the outcome of the program?
The aim of the program is the mutual exchange of knowledge and experience. People who have already started their own business or want to try it out will work directly for the host entrepreneur’s company and become part of their team. In this way, they will be able to look at the realities of business in another country.
They will increase their knowledge and acquire the necessary skills to manage and develop the company. At the same time, they will receive valuable advice from an experienced entrepreneur, as well as new international contacts that they can use in their own business. Last but not least, they can expand their knowledge in their sector or gain new knowledge in a field they have not previously been involved in. Another great feature is to improve your language skills and learn about a different mindset and culture.
The Erasmus program is not limited by age, but the condition is that a person cannot be an entrepreneur for more than 3 years. Is this position suitable for graduates or young adults?
Yes, this program is also suitable for young people or graduates who are looking for new ideas for their application or the opportunity to gain new experiences abroad. However, it is important that they have a business idea and draw up a business plan, which is one of the appendices of the application.
Photo: SF Archive
What responses do you have from young people who have already joined the programme?
Previous participants rate this program very positively. Proof of this is their success stories. Let us mention, for example, a businessman who initially focused primarily on corporate photo films and event videos. Within this program, he collaborated with a foreign production company and evaluated his experience as follows:
“The guys are in-demand filmmakers, and working with them was a great experience. They helped me with everything, they had incredible patience with my endless questions, and most importantly they weren’t afraid to assign me responsible tasks.”
After returning to Slovakia, he successfully expanded his portfolio and began shooting documentaries about athletes and nature.
Many graduates continue to work with the businessman they have resided with. In addition, some have signed up as host entrepreneurs and now want to pass on their expertise to others.
What are the current options after a global pandemic hits the world?
Despite the current situation, the program is still running and those interested can join it at any time. In addition, the terms of cooperation are currently being defined more flexibly. Although the pandemic has temporarily affected the availability of some host entrepreneurs, the database offers many options, so those interested will certainly choose. For the trip itself, due to the existing arrangements, each participant must consider the country in which they want to complete the program.
What will entrepreneurs benefit from this program? What criteria do they have to meet?
If you want to become a mentor to a novice entrepreneur from another participating country, you must have at least 3 years of business experience and must be running a small or medium-sized business. He also needs to be willing to pass on his professional knowledge and experience to others. On the other hand, he can count on innovative ideas and new stimuli that a novice entrepreneur will offer him. It’s also a great opportunity to gain new business opportunities and contacts, while expanding your portfolio with a new area of interest. Therefore, the program promises a mutually beneficial cooperation.
What if someone has worked for a long time and also wants to travel abroad?
MobiliseSME is an excellent opportunity for this target group. This is a new program of the European Commission, which aims to help develop the skills and capabilities of company employees by deploying them across borders in the short term to another company (1-6 months). It may include employees, managers, or owners of small and medium-sized enterprises that have been established for more than a year. The same standard applies to the self-employed. The sending company receives a financial contribution. Currently, when many companies are facing a problem or looking for new incentives to develop, this program is a huge challenge. Thanks to it, they can acquire new business partners, expand their products or services, acquire new professional skills and much more.
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