Erasmus for entrepreneurs: a European project for young professionals

erasmus young entrepreneurs

The concept and perception of what Europe is and what it could be have been permanently altered by what has come to be known as the “Erasmus generation”. For over three decades, students from all over the Union have taken part in cultural and academic exchanges, which allowed them to consider career options outside of their home Country, embracing an international perspective and building fruitful connections with their peers in other EU States. Not many are aware, however, that the sweeping success of the Erasmus program inspired a similar initiative, created by the European Commission, aimed at fostering international cooperation among young entrepreneurs. The definition is broad enough: it includes those planning to start their own company or freelancing career, as well as those who have already been in business for up to three years.

How it works

Young professionals accepted into the Erasmus programme will travel to another European Country, to work with an established enterprise in their field. This benefits all parties involved in different ways. The aspiring entrepreneurs will have the opportunity of learning their own trade in a practical way, acquiring meaningful connections and familiarising themselves with all the aspects of entrepreneurial life. The hosting enterprises, on the other hand, will benefit from a younger, fresher and more creative approach to their own field, as well as sowing seeds for future professional collaborations and even business partnerships abroad. The programme will subsidize the costs of living abroad for the aspiring entrepreneur so that they can devote all their time and energy to gaining the most from their professional experience.

Enrolling in the Erasmus program as a young entrepreneur

In order to be accepted into the programme, aspiring entrepreneurs must present a viable project and be ready to take active part in the hosting enterprise’s activity. They must also provide a business plan and set goals for their experience abroad. They will be reviewing it upon their return and assess how much they have accomplished and learned. The programme is marketed as being destined to “young” entrepreneurs, but in truth, there is no age limit on individual participants – as long as they haven’t been in business for longer than three years. Participation is limited to permanent residents of the Countries who take part in the project. Several public institutions are in charge of working as mediators between different Countries, easing the process of moving abroad and getting candidates in touch with suitable enterprises.

Why you should do it

This programme was created to help young entrepreneurs improve their skills and knowledge of their own field, and gain some hands-on experience before starting their own business. The long-term goal is to create a lively network of connected enterprises, whose collaborations should not only be based on mere financial convenience but on established personal relationships and trust. This should create a positive environment for new companies to thrive in, as young businesses are rarely competitive price-wise, but they can offer excellent value in terms of innovation and creativity, and contribute to the evolution of productive processes. Hosting companies also have a lot to gain from this programme: there are no fees to take part in the programme, and the young professionals that companies are matched with are future allies and often bearers of a younger and fresher perspective on the company’s industrial cluster.

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She is a part-time digital nomad. She would go full-time, if only she could stay away from Berlin for long enough without pining for a Pretzel. She was born in Italy and she enjoys life as an expat, but visits home often enough and can still remember how to bake a perfect lasagna. She is passionate about writing, marketing, languages and the systematic demolition of cultural stereotypes.

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