Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs

  

Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs is a European Union pilot programme that pays new entrepreneurs to learn from experienced businesspeople in other member states. The European Commission wants to make it permanent, with a lot more financial fire-power, to boost cross-border trade.

Horizontal Tabs

Overview

Europe is often seen as being less entrepreneurial than the United States, where studies consistently show that people are more willing to take risks.

Entrepreneurs can tap into national and EU funds to help get off the ground – but while some plead for state intervention to promote small businesses and start-ups, others would simply prefer governments to leave them to it.

99% of companies in the EU are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), accounting for about two-thirds of jobs and GDP. However, less than 10% of them export goods and services within the bloc.

In February 2009, the European Commission launched Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs (EYE), a pilot scheme allowing young businesspeople to spend between one and six months with an established entrepreneur in another EU country.

Under the project – similar to the Erasmus student programme – aspiring entrepreneurs are paid up to €1,100 a month to shadow an experienced business owner, in order to improve their skills and transfer knowledge across borders.

It is part of the EU's Small Business Act of July 2008, a framework policy to encourage entrepreneurship and help SMEs exploit the internal market.

EYE was extended for a second and third year, with a fourth scheduled for February 2012. By February 2011, 332 people had completed the training and another 200 are currently abroad – but the organisers have struggled to find willing hosts.

Moreover, with 23 million SMEs in the EU, Commission officials say EYE should be expanded tenfold if it is to have a wider and longer-lasting effect on cross-border entrepreneurship.

The Commission plans to propose permanent funding for EYE in an effort widen its scope and impact. This will require the approval of the European Parliament and member states, however.

The proposal should be adopted by the end of 2011, but with cash-strapped governments pushing for cuts to the EU's budget, it is unclear how much money will be made available.

Advertising