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Erasmus for entrepreneurs: Let’s go to Europe!

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New components were added to the most popular EU funded program. Erasmus started as a classical exchange program lasted for a semester or a full year, but in the past few years it was extended with language preparatory courses and also with traineeships. The newest member of the Erasmus family is the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs Program (EYE), which is aiming to help young entrepreneurs to start their own business with an insight from other European countries. We took a closer look of the program!

The main goal of the program is to facilitate the experiences and know how between newly established and experienced entrepreneurs. The 1-6 months long internship mainly focuses on the enterprise management. The program is open for everyone who wants to start or already successfully runs a small business, there is no need to have an academic qualification and there is also no age limit. However, the applicants are mostly under the age of 30.

The ambitious candidates are helped with the general information by four local organizations during the preparation and the administration process whose contact data can be found on the official website of EYE. We saw the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Hungary (CCIU) about further details. Füredi Gábor, the project coordinator there principally directs the applicants to Italy, but it has happened before to choose an other country for the participants, for exampe Cyprus. The financial support is bigger than the usual grant in an Erasmus program, it’s about 700-1000 euros a month depending on the country that a person can get. Although the program’s name is Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs there is no requirement about having a running business or starting one after the exchange.

While there are approximately 280 firms in Italy open for the European trainees, Hungarians show a low-level participation with about two dozen cooperative companies. Beyond a usual traineeship the hosted person gain not a special expertise, but a real experience about managing a business, about the internal and external relations a company have. With these aspects the program offers more than an internship.

The Chamber on the one hand helps the participants (the newly established and the experienced entrepreneur) to find and contact each other, on the other hand gives clues to the candidates to be able to prepare individually a business plan that have to be attached to the application documents and which includes for example a marketing plan or a concurrency analysis. The Chamber primarily is in connection with enterprises, but the program makes it possible to experience the work of non-governmental organizations.

Fast selection, wide range of opportunities

If the partner organization can host someone, the interested ones can apply whenever they want, there is no time limit. The process of the selection takes about 2 months, which could be faster in case of the applicant find a specific enterprise on the website of EYE. To facilitate the administration the partners are usually in touch on Skype before the the program begins. Balázs Rita, an ex-scholar participating in the program in 2010 was hosted by an Italian micro-enterprise in the field of geography, GIS and remote sensing in Venice. She was planned to stay only 3 months, but eventually spent half year in the city where she got an insight into the everydays of an experienced business managed by the best-known Italian representative of the field. Rita said that her expertise is so special that without EYE she would not have had a real chance to gain that kind of experience at a foreign firm. The working language was Italian, though speaking the language of the host country is not expected everywhere, but having a mastery of English language is necessary for the candidates. Rita pointed out that understanding the company’s operation and getting used to the teamwork had taken most of the time. They had to reconcile the special and personal goals they had and found out how they can help each other, but of course during the operational work they also were in contact constantly. On the whole Rita find the 6-month-internship useful while she experienced the psychology of the Italian working habit too.

Not just the scholar profits

It’s worth hosting someone for a company too. Besides training a new employee takes so much money and energy, the young scholar can enrich the organization with fresh ideas and new local knowledge. Stefania de Zorzi whom Rita spent her traineeship with also highlighted this as EYE’s greatest added value and said that the program helps the enterprises to expand within Europe too.

By Tamás Kéry, translated from Hungarian to English by: Zsóka Kicsiny, photo: Push Europe UK