Fabian Demicoli

Erasmus for SMEs– A different opportunity

 Entrepreneurs will be paid up to €1,100 per month to move to other EU countries to learn from experienced business owners as part of a pilot project designed to encourage young business owners to make more of the internal market.

The scheme is part of the Small Business Act which was unveiled in July 2008 and will help 870 entrepreneurs to spend between one and six months in another EU member state in 2010. People starting their own businesses will be paired with established SMEs with the help of local chambers of commerce and other intermediary organisations.

Funding for expenses varies according to the cost of living in member states and ranges from €560 in Latvia to €1,100 in Denmark, but entrepreneurs keen to avail of the scheme will be expected to raise additional funds and demonstrate that they have a viable business plan.

New entrepreneurs will gain competences and perspectives that will prove invaluable during the business start-up phase, while also enhancing potential crossborder activity and thus the probability of success.

Businesses across Europe continue to focus on their national market rather than exploiting commercial opportunities elsewhere in the EU, with just 8% of SMEs exporting their goods and services within the EU. Maive Rute, Director for Promotion of SMEs' competitiveness, European Commission, dismissed concerns that the project would struggle to attract enough established businesspeople to host young entrepreneurs, saying there are 23 million SMEs in Europe and just 870 are needed to make the project work. An additional €5 million will be made available if the pilot project is deemed a success, she added.

Anyone interested contact Abigail Mamo @ GRTU

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