International ProAktivity Summit 2016
The YouthProAktiv International Proaktivity Summit was held from the 28th of September to the 2nd of October 2016, gathering together more than 80 young European students and entrepreneurs with professionals, EU officials and experts from the civil society to build a discussion around two main pillars for economic development and full civil participation of young people in Europe: youth entrepreneurship and the so-called “second chance policy proposal”.
YouthProAktiv considers both the discussion and the topics addressed not only as fundamental in a modern, democratic society, but also as practical and realistic means to economic and social development, especially after years of economic stagnation in the Old Continent and in a dire employment reality for young people. We believe that a new entrepreneurial culture, more people-centered, is a vital asset to relaunch the European economy by allowing youth to become job-creators and not only job-seekers. From our perspective, the European youth holds in its hands the keys to implement it through proactivity, education, hard work and the audacity to create something for themselves and for others.
Four enhanced discussions were held during the Summit, bringing together a number of experts on entrepreneurship coming from various organizations and work environments; the open debates focused on “How to distinguish an idea from a winning idea?”, “From ideas into actions”, “How can the EU help restarting from failure?”, “How do I fund my project?”. The main conclusions and recommendation included:
- Official data from the EU Commission show that bankruptcy is a great cause of job loss and that half of the new enterprises do not survive for more than 5 years; moreover, more than 40% of young entrepreneurs are afraid to move on with the creation of their company because of not favourable conditions in the EU; 96% of bankruptcy are honest, although public opinion perceives bankruptcy as deliberate; second time starters usually do much better in their second attempt.
- The EU is aware of the issue and actively working on it: a new strategy is being put in place, thus the member state will be pushed to adapt their legislation on bankruptcy in order to establish a better environment for the creation of an enterprise; the EU Commission initiative “Capital Market Union”, which will soon be published, aims at facilitating awareness in legal procedures for investors in the EU; the second chance policy is emphasized in many EU programs and initiatives.
- Entrepreneurship can thrive within the appropriate ecosystem which is able support their development. From macro to micro level, starting from EU until every young entrepreneur and his/her idea entrepreneurial activities can thrive when bottom up and top down interactions are taking place and when proactivity is encouraged and rewarded.
- A good entrepreneur is always aware of the distinction between the person and the business; he or she knows that investors, potential partners and financial institutions will only consider the value of the project and not the personality behind it. On the other hand, customers, close partners and team members will weight also the quality of the entrepreneur when choosing to support the project.
- The importance of online learning technologies and social media in an entrepreneurial/start-up setting: online technologies and platforms are a valuable tool in a young entrepreneur’s hands; they allow inexperienced entrepreneurs to quickly learn new skills and help obtaining useful data and knowledge on target groups and conduct market analysis in a cheap and fast way;
- Many wonderful ideas didn’t turn into reality. Execution is a key process to be undertaken in order to transform the idea into a project and the project into a business. A solid business plan is fundamental; no idea, however good it may be, is enough; especially social entrepreneurs should not neglect a business-like mind frame to reach their goals;
- Non-formal education is as important as formal one to develop ideas and resources in a fast changing, interconnected world; many speakers brought examples from their personal experience of online learning platforms they used to be better prepared in their endeavours;
- Is it better to have a team of friends or of skilled strangers? There were many different answers and opinion on this topic, the final synthesis being that if friendship means knowing and sharing strengths and weaknesses of every member of the team, have always support yet not losing focus on being honest and critical and most important sharing a vision, then friends are the component of a winning idea. And if the skilled people are not friends, they need to become it!
The participants also had the chance to witness first-hand the experiences of a group of young successful entrepreneurs who shared with the audience their history and how being proactive and persistent played a fundamental role in their professional success.
In addition to the discussions, the participants were invited to work on a “Declaration of Young Europeans on Second Chance Policy”, which will be presented both to the European Commission and to the European Parliament to the Committee of Culture and Education, the Committee on Internal Market, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs.
Furthermore, the participants had the possibility to work in groups on ideas and projects of their creation, under the guidance and with the help of a tutor chosen amongst the speakers; a total of seven projects were discussed upon and presented. During this session the participants had the chance of learning by doing, with the advice of experts and working on a concrete project of their creation.
The International Proaktivity Summit has strengthened the voice of young Europeans on the issues of entrepreneurship and second chance policy, while giving them the chance to develop their knowledge and pursue their own projects with the help and under the guidance of experts. YouthProAktiv believes that empowering European youth is a fundamental point towards economic development and social improvement.