A helping hand to our entrepreneurs

Ivan Štefanec, Member of the European Parliament

Starting a business becomes nowadays an attractive path for more and more people. Nevertheless, not all of them give it a shot. I have devoted much of my time to entrepreneurship and SMEs and have been in contact with many entrepreneurs and start-ups.

From the meetings and conversations, I learned how much they value their independence, responsibility and contribution to the society. Our society is transforming. Independent, creative, dynamic and capable individuals are in high demand. Therefore, we need to support entrepreneurship and motivate young people to consider doing business as a job option. One of the ways to kick off the entrepreneurial experience is to participate in the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme. 

Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs

I can highly recommend the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme that falls under the Erasmus+ umbrella. It is a great to tool for getting started. Its purpose is to teach young people how to create, run, and succeed in their own business. It gives young entrepreneurs the opportunity to acquire knowledge from skilled and experienced entrepreneurs. This experience allows young entrepreneurs to acquire necessary skills and helps them to learn foreign languages, while building their know-how of the global market and shows them what entrepreneurship is about. I think further development of this programme and its promotion across the EU is essential. It enhances the potential of Europe in sustaining and increasing the job opportunities for all and prepares new generation for the jobs to be created in the future.

Supporting small and medium sized enterprises

The economy cannot exist and last without an efficient and capable sphere of small and medium enterprises. A look at statistics confirms that. SMEs make 99% of all business in the EU. Therefore, I actively support SMEs not only in Slovakia, but also in the European Parliament as the vice-president of the SME Europe - association of the European People´s Party that aims to shape EU policies in a more SME friendly way. Together with my colleagues, we seek to increase funding for SMEs, support their business and ensure that they can create sustainable jobs, growth and prosperity. 

Tasks ahead of us

I am thrilled to be a part of such important changes in our society where SMEs and start-ups play an important role in the society. I am looking forward to see them expand and succeed. It is necessary to give our citizens a chance to do what they love and support them on their way. I am confident that we can create more opportunities by simplifying procedures to set up businesses, facilitating access to finance and supporting further education and development programmes for SMEs and start-ups. Entrepreneurship in Europe is and should remain a backbone of our society.

Category : education Posted : 9 March 2017 10:49 UTC
About the Author
Ivan Štefanec, Member of the European Parliament

Ivan Štefanec joined the European Parliament in 2014. He is a member of Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection where he focuses on SMEs, employment, entrepreneurship, (digital) single market and red tape reduction.

Prior to joining the European Parliament, he was member of Slovak parliament (National Council of the Slovak Republic) and Vice-Chairman of the Committee for European Affairs (2012-2014) and Chairman of the Committee for European Affairs (2010-2014).

In 2004, when Slovakia joined the EU, he was appointed Government plenipotentiary for the introduction of the euro currency in Slovakia and he held the post for two years. 

Before entering politics, Mr Štefanec worked in Coca Cola, first as a Financial Director and then as Managing Director for Coca-Cola Beverages Slovakia. Later on, he became Director for European Integration for Coca-Cola HBC in Vienna.

MEP Štefanec holds a degree in English language from the Comenius University, Bratislava and a degree in IT and Management from University of Economics, Bratislava. He has a MBA for managers from CE Europe from Rochester Institute of Technology, NY and a PhD in Economics from the University of Economics, Bratislava. 

Ivan Štefanec is a sport enthusiast. He enjoys running and cycling. After joining the EP, he cycled 1,200 km to his new work place from Bratislava to Brussels for 9 days.


Thank you, Mr. Štefanec, for this summary of the merits of Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs. I have one point and one question.

A factor you miss in the blog is that Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs is also open to old foxes like us! Despite the politically appealing title of the programme, young businesses (whatever the age of the owner) can also apply to the programme.

Thinking forward, however, and with the changing demographics in Europe, I wonder if we will have a dedicated support programme for silver entrepreneurs? Isn't this an EU policy blind-spot?

The EU puts considerable effort into education/training for entrepreneurship. This drive is disconnected with another area - access to finance. Shouldn't they be dovetailed? Aren't loans likely to be more successful, and in turn the start-ups, when prefaced and accompanied by good training?

Tony Gribben
Anthony Gribben
Anthony Gribben 2017-03-10 13:21 Reply
Dear Mr Gribben,

Thank you for your comment and contribution. The point you make is correct. Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs is available to all new entrepreneurs, not only to young ones.

Regarding silver entrepreneurs, with the population in Europe growing older, their support is essential. I am supporting the 50+ Entrepreneurship Platform, which gives political support to the silver entrepreneurs and promotes awareness of the silver economy. Moreover, the platform seeks to support educational activities and higher involvement of 50+ citizens in the economy. I would not call silver entrepreneurs a blind spot in the EU policy. Although they are not currently under the spotlight, I am confident that their role will be more and more important in the future.

When it comes to education and financing, I agree that to benefit from the EU financing effectively, education plays an important role. However, we need to find a balance that allows entrepreneurs to utilize the EU funding without overburdening them. Our goal is to make EU funding more accessible to our entrepreneurs. Dovetailing entrepreneurial education and financing would make the process of obtaining financing even more complex than it already is.

That being said, there is no reason why new entrepreneurs cannot benefit from both instruments. For instance applying for EU funding for a project after having participated in the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs is certainly a good option for a new entrepreneur.

Kind regards,

Ivan Štefanec, MEP
Ivan Štefanec
Ivan Štefanec 2017-03-22 14:39 Reply

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