Inclusive Entrepreneurship in Europe - COPIE e-news 01/2011

Dear reader,

As entrepreneurship policy-maker, Member of Parliament, business support practitioner or ESF/ERDF manager in Europe, we are glad to introduce you to our first edition of the Community of Practice for Inclusive Entrepreneurship (COPIE) newsletter.

COPIE is an EU-wide network of ESF Managing Authorities and Implementing Bodies to develop, share and test new measures to ensure that entrepreneurship becomes a viable professional option for European citizens from all walks of life.

Our key areas of work are: access to finance, quality management, entrepreneurship education, integrated business support and joint action planning.

With a view to the planning for the new round of the European Structural Funds, over the next few months, we would like to share COPIE's activities, tools and results with you. This is particularly timely as the EU Commission has just published their proposal for the new legislative package for EU Cohesion Policy, including the regulations for the ESF and the ERDF.

As COPIE, we hope to provide interesting case studies for those who wish to promote inclusive support services in their national, regional or local settings as part of the ESF or ERDF; and we will also contribute to the broader dialogue on inclusive entrepreneurship policy support in Europe.

Our full set of COPIE tools and recommendations will be presented and discussed at our final COPIE Policy Forum in Germany in March 2012.

We look forward to engaging in the discussion and to also hearing more on inclusive entrepreneurship from your perspective.

Kind regards

The COPIE partnership

ESF for Microfinance - COPIE partners peer review the 'German Microcredit Fund' and the German 'Start-Up Coaching Programme' in Berlin on Oct 6-7, 2011

ESF for MicrofinanceLack of access to appropriate finance is still a major barrier for starting up a business in Europe. Findings from the 2009 Eurobarometer clearly confirm this. In 2010, the EU Commission for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion has thus set up the EU Progress Microfinance Facility, and the new EU Programme for Social Change and Innovation further extends the EU's activities in this area. However, as EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Mr Lázló Andor recently stated at the European Microfinance Network's annual conference in Amsterdam, 'Microfinance needs to be part of an overall policy for entrepreneurship support that is specially geared to groups who are in a less favourable position in society'.

This month, COPIE partners and key European stakeholders met in Berlin to hold a peer review on access to finance and small-scale entrepreneurship in Germany. Hosted by COPIE's lead partner, the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, this two-day event ran as part of the EU SME Week, and as part of a series of four that is managed for COPIE by the ESF Managing Authority of Flanders.

Delegates learned about the modalities of the 'German Microcredit Fund' and the German 'Start-Up Coaching programme' and discussed aspects of credit monitoring, collaboration with microfinance institutions, outreach to target groups and sustainability. They were also introduced to COPIE's planned Manual on Access to Finance for ESF Managing Authorities in Europe and its opportunities for transnational transfer.

The full conference report will shortly be available here.

Quality management tools for business advice - Galicia to present COPIE's work @ regional 'Day of the Entrepreneur' on Oct 25, 2011

Quality management tools for business adviceBusiness advisors play a key role in the support infrastructure that helps people from all types of backgrounds to set up their own business. With a significant number of people in Europe starting up as necessity entrepreneurs, skills requirements for business advisors change. Entrepreneurs increasingly take advantage of public support (very often financed by the ESF), but despite a series of specialised programmes, commonly accepted regional or national quality standards for tailored provision are rare across Europe. Over the course of the last two years, COPIE members have addressed this issue by focussing on regional systems of those who participate in the COPIE Thematic Group on Quality Management.

As one of the results, Galicia is working on the implementation of the Business Advisor’s Profiling Tool in its region and will discuss COPIE’s joint concept of qualification and quality assurance in business advice with the business advisor community at the regional Day of the Entrepreneur this month.

Promoting entrepreneurial mindsets through education - the role of the ESF

Promoting entrepreneurial mindsets through educationEntrepreneurship education is crucial for promoting creativity, innovation and business development in Europe. The EU Commission has committed itself to promoting education for entrepreneurship at all levels, from primary school to university and beyond. A recently published report on teacher education for entrepreneurship outlines actions that can be taken to strengthen teachers in this respect. Within the Europe20202 strategy there is also considerable room for activity; in particular with regard to its focus on developing a skilled workforce and improving quality and performance of education and training systems.

COPIE partners have thus initiated a more in-depth discussion on the use of the ESF to promote entrepreneurial education in Europe. A recent study visit to Finland provided one of a number of valuable perspectives into how entrepreneurship education can be supported through the ESF Operational Programme.

To offer regional and national policy-makers in Europe the opportunity to assess their regions or country's performance in entrepreneurship education, COPIE partners currently amend COPIE's European Tool for Inclusive Entrepreneurship based on the network's experience. Furthermore, last week, the COPIE' approach to entrepreneurship education was presented at a transnational COMENIUS network conference of education practitioners and policy-makers from seven European countries.

Joint up action for a coherent entrepreneurship policy - COPIE stimulates regional and national collaboration in policy development

Joint up action for a coherent entrepreneurship policyCOPIE partner share the understanding that designing and implementing a comprehensive regional or national inclusive entrepreneurship policy requires interdepartmental coordination and stakeholder cooperation.

Please read more and hear a podcast on COPIE's work on Joint
Action Planning here.

COPIE Mid-Term Event - Conference report available for download

COPIE Mid-Term EventThe COPIE Mid-Term event in March 2011 provided a forum to present COPIE's work in the five thematic areas and discuss ESF and ERDF strategies in inclusive entrepreneurship support with delegates from regional, national and EU policy administration, ESF Managing Authorities and key stakeholder organisations from across Europe.
Please see the full report and the speaker's presentations here.

COPIE European Tool - new manual for application available for download in German

COPIE European TollCOPIE's European Tool for inclusive entrepreneurship is a standardised instrument for assessing local or regional business support infrastructures and their inclusive approach towards entrepreneurship. Since 2007, it has been successfully applied in 17 European regions and cities. More information and a new manual for implementation in German are available here.
An English version of the manual will follow shortly.