Urban MBA along with three partners delivered the Erasmus + project “Be Brave Take A Chance” which took place in Cheshunt, north London. The project welcomed 42 participants from Italy, Romania and United Kingdom who wanted to broaden their knowledge about ‘Social Entrepreneurship. Coincidentally, this project was fitting to the European Commission Legislation 2012 as a 2020 Action Plan 2020 for the 28 states of the European Union to comply with. The Legislation states that in order to increase economic growth there is need to create more jobs and this can only be achieved through entrepreneurship. The legislation outlined a framework supportive for entrepreneurs those existing and those yet to come. The percentage of young people who become entrepreneurs after traditional schooling is 3-5%. On the other hand, through none traditional entrepreneurship education this increases to 15-20%. Despite the difference in the percentages the duration is the same as it takes 3-5 years to establish a business (European Commission, 2012).
The Congressional Research Service published an article tiled The European Union: Ongoing Challenges and Future Prospects. The article is based on research completed July- October with 528 entrepreneurs from countries such as Belgium, Spain, France, Italy and Germany. This article touches on the uncertainty that surrounds Brexit and the potential implications this will have on the European economic growth. Both the article and the Legislation outline the need for a much more supportive environment for existing entrepreneurs to thrive and grow while continuing to work towards gender equality and removing obstacles migrant entrepreneurs experience. This is the blueprint to achieving a revolutionised culture of entrepreneurship in the EU. The research “untapped pools of entrepreneurial potential” Women entrepreneurs constitute only 34.4% of the self-employed in the EU but 52% of the total European population” (Congressional Research Service, 2018). By random selection based on interest and availability, the project consisted of 24 female and 18 male participants. This further demonstrates the levels of interests in female entrepreneurs and while unintentional the project contributed to supporting the gender equality for females in business.
While on project, the participants spent five days taking a wide range of sessions consisting of presentations, discussions, workshops and interactive games. The group started the week learning what social entrepreneurship is and how they can implement this topic in their daily personal and work lives. Along the different sessions, the participants worked in groups to develop innovative ideas about potential social enterprises. For instance, one of the activities was to create a business plan from a social perspective. The business idea was born out of the session that encouraged participants to think big while pondering and saucing inspiration from everyday products to problem solve. Some of them presented their own personal projects and other elaborated a completely new idea for businesses. They used the business model canvas to write their ideas and to apply the model of industries.
One of many challenges for entrepreneurs is the lack of funding available not only as start-up but as sustainable growth. A recently published article by the Telegraph based on recent research showed that women who run start-ups receive just 0.5% of the total invested by venture capital funds and this is the lowest level in a decade (Mikhailova, 2019). Further evidence of the gender inequality, according to the British Business Bank in 2017 women only teams received £32 million in investment, while male teams received more than £5 billion (Mikhailova, 2019). As part of the project we ensured the participants had the opportunity to speak to Unltd, an organisation that provides funding and investment in businesses and charities in the UK. The meeting took place at the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS). They had first-hand experience into understanding
- How to apply for funding
- What funding is available
- What is required to apply for funding
- Learning the types of organisation Unltd supports
This opened their eyes to possibilities of starting a business and support available to sustain it.
Part of the project was to consider social issues affecting young people and drawing some similarities and differences. This also included some discussions about other topics such as young unemployment and the refugees in Europe. The participants were divided in groups to analyse the situation in their own countries and exchange their ideas to compare them in different contexts. They all listened to the other groups and learned different perspectives which helped them to have a better understanding about the general situation in Europe. More importantly, to help them in their thinking as upcoming entrepreneurs to think about the impact they can have both in their local community and country wide. The European Commission was also concerned about the area for those residing in the EU.
The last two days of the projects were focused on Marketing and Social Media for businesses. The group enjoyed these topics as many of them were already familiar with it and decided to share their personal experiences. The experience enabled peer learning to take place and for participants to showcase their expertise. They learned about the different types of marketing such as direct and indirect how to use these and for what purpose. They learned about some marketing tools that they can use to create content for their business ideas and engage a wider audience.
As part of the sessions, the group enjoyed three intercultural nights where they had the opportunity to learn more about other cultures and tried some delicious food whilst learning traditional dances. The best way to get to know each other a bit more! They also had the opportunity to explore London and the many attractions London has to offer.
To sum up, this project has helped the participants to have a better understanding about what the meaning of social entrepreneurship is, and how they can develop original ideas to solve social problems and put them into practice. The aim of the project was to show them that their businesses can be profitable whilst helping other people at the same time. This means that social enterprises can benefit a wider range of people.
As Mirko, one of the participants, told us: “Participating at Urban MBA, means to practice your English and public speaking skills, while learning how to transform ideas into practice. Thanks to different workshops and business cases, it’s finally possible to understand how many benefits Social aspects can bring to your business or how helpful is business for your social aims.”