The New Age Of Entrepreneurship – Empowering Citizens As Drivers Of Innovation

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Did you know that today you can make toast by simply riding a bicycle? Yes, that’s right. Just like the phones that you can now charge in Amsterdam Schiphol and Brussels airport just by rolling the pedals. With only thirty minutes of cycling you can charge a telephone. News about the telephone charge isn’t new; however, watching a piece of bread be toasted while somebody cycles certainly surprised me. Surprised me and made me think of how many new dimensions technology can offer nowadays.

Organized by the European Institute for Entrepreneurship (a pioneering organization created for entrepreneurs by a group of entrepreneurs), the event called ‘Entrepreneur Factory’ has caught my attention, and the ‘toasting bicycle’ was just one of the innovative projects it had to offer. One of the principal objectives the EIE’s founders had in mind was to encourage young entrepreneurship, and the Institute has certainly succeeded in bringing together young people for the purpose of making something of their own, innovative ideas. 

The word ‘entrepreneur’ originally comes from the French verb “entreprendre,” which means to undertake. According to the Oxford Dictionary, an entrepreneur is a person who starts his own business, usually taking on financial risk. But moving on from the business perspective, entrepreneurship after all is not just about money. The relatively new phenomenon of social entrepreneurship has appeared on the horizon and suggests that start-up companies and other entrepreneurs can develop, fund, and implement solutions to social, cultural, or environmental issues. The year 2016 has already been called the ‘Year of social entrepreneurship’, and we can point to successful and even life-changing examples of this phenomenon.

That’s why Entrepreneur Factory was so different – it was about business actually helping, not killing us. It was about business that collaborates with technologies, and its mission is to make our lives better. Better does not always mean just easy, it means increasing standards of quality.

‘What impacted me the most was to see so many young people worried about the world, having the wish to create a better future. Very often it is said that we are a generation of selfies or narcissists, but attending this event proved that this is not so. It was interesting to see how many tools we have nowadays to make change possible!’ – says one of the participants, Jennifer, from Spain.

Imagine that you close your eyes and have to taste two types of food. Trust your taste, nothing else. During the ‘Blind food-tasting’ session, you are given a blindfold, and you just have to experience the flavour of two different products. After the session, the secret is revealed – one product is produced by a local farmer, and the other one is a product imported from another country and sold in the supermarket. Can you tell the difference, and would you rather help your local farmer?

This session, called “The Food Interview”, was developed by four students who undertook an intensive 4-month program about entrepreneurship called Option E.

“We chose the topic of sustainable food because we wanted to create from scratch an impactful event, with the aim of changing people’s minds about the way they consume food, incentivizing them to look beyond the product and making them discover and meet local producers and a new way of consuming, better for them, better for the local economy, and a help to their neighbours and for the environment of course” – notes Julia Malek, one of the four project creators.

“As you can see on our FB page, we began to understand the subject better while creating a blog about sustainable food. Our project is not meant to be a start-up, the aim was really to build an event with social impact. You can get a better idea if you visit our blog or follow us through the hashtag #hungry_squad. If you have any thoughts/ideas you want to contribute, please get in touch. We will still have to develop a start-up idea to present at the end of the program, so if one of the YouthTime readers is in Madrid December 14th – you are welcome to come and visit us!” – stresses Julia. 

As destructive as technologies can be, there is no doubt that they can also benefit us, and a lot of young people from all over the world prove this to us every day. For example, the app called ‘Too good to go’ was started in the U.S. but now is widely used in other places, with the hope of expanding even further. The food that is left at local cafes and restaurants at the end of the day in your area can now be purchased through the app “At the End of the Day.” The mission of the app creators is to place the value back into food by making it something that can be eaten and not thrown away. Reducing food waste is an important mission, and saving the food that otherwise would be thrown out also saves money and the planet. 

There are different ways to make the world better. A young entrepreneur from France, Cyril Bruyelle, believes that the main driver is curiosity, and that is why he has created a project called “20 questions to the world”. Cyril travels around the world and asks thought-provoking, insightful, and sometimes silly questions. He questions people from all over the world, who speak different languages, belong to various cultures and religions – unique people who are not afraid to speak their minds. You can watch some of Cyril’s videos and contribute to his project through.

 

Be one of the changemakers and think outside of the box, create the apps that help this world! Be a social entrepreneur, and make positive change happen.

 

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