Architects of tomorrow’s entrepreneurs

by Su Aziz

Entrepreneurial centres pave a lit path towards the future and instil optimism during unpredictable economic times. Read about one such centre in Croatia that nurtures SMEs, considered to be the backbone of many Southeast European economies.

In 2009, upon the request of the pre-accession countries of South East Europe and Turkey, the South East European Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (SEECEL) was founded to establish structured regional cooperation in the field of entrepreneurial learning, in line with Europe’s Small Business Act (SBA). Its success today is evident in the cooperation of the pre-accession countries and a commitment by these governments to further the work in entrepreneurial learning, women’s entrepreneurship and SME skills.

Being a regional non-profit institution and considered as an ‘implementing agency’, SEECEL is supported financially by the European Commission and governments of its member countries of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey and Moldova. The centre itself is located in Zagreb, Croatia. In part, the support from the EU stems from EU’s definition of entrepreneurial learning as a key competence.

Applying structured regional cooperation modalities and a multilateral structured partnership in the field of human capital development has been the main thing that SEECEL brought to the ecosystems in Southeast Europe as well as Turkey.

Developing skills for sustainable entrepreneurship
SEECEL supports the inclusion of entrepreneurial learning at all levels of education, from primary to higher education, and also in teacher training. It not only advocates regional policy learning, but also ownership as well as cooperation for developing entrepreneurial learning and SME skills, especially through peer learning or review.

What’s more, it encourages SME skills to upgrade through Training Needs Analysis – where companies identify training and development needs of employees to execute their jobs effectively. This brings evidence-based policy making principle closer to the policymakers in developing human capital programmes for SMEs including women entrepreneurs.

The centre believes that because they shape entrepreneurs of tomorrow, therefore, they must support the creation of entrepreneurial societies where each person thinks and acts like an entrepreneur. This is, of course, apt. ‘Keeping in mind the very simple fact that entrepreneurs of tomorrow are in our schools today we must support the creation of entrepreneurial societies where each person need to be equipped with skills to thinks and acts like an entrepreneur,’ says Efka Heder, director of SEECEL.

Elements of entrepreneurial success
According to SEECEL, there are three fundamental elements that help build lifelong entrepreneurial learning system: Entrepreneurial students who work with educational experts and practitioners to develop instruments for teaching entrepreneurship as a key competence at all levels of education; entrepreneurial teachers who work with national teacher training authorities and teacher training institutions to develop as well as implement pre-service and in-service teacher training modules on entrepreneurship as a key competence and with teachers on applying entrepreneurial learning teaching methods in the classroom implementing the impactful cross-curriculum approach that learning outcomes are integrated in all, and finally; entrepreneurial school that work with school management and school boards to strengthen support of entrepreneurial learning and to develop stronger school-community-business connections while fostering inter-school cooperation at national and regional level for entrepreneurial learning.

The latter point in terms of schools, according to SEECEL, can prepare the population for Industry 4.0 and schools need to morph from ‘introvert’ self-oriented institutions to ‘extrovert’ open lifelong learning lighthouses as well as act as a harness for entrepreneurial and digital literacy.

Final Words
‘For leaders of the future, being Industry 4.0 ready, entrepreneurial and digital literacy, are as necessary as two hands to a body. This is especially important for countries in transition where the change of mindset is needed and very important for building sustainable socially responsible societies,’ Efka reminds.

For Croatia, entrepreneurship is fundamental. It’s where SMEs are the majority businesses and they are the backbone of Croatian, the EU and the surrounding countries. The Croatian government keenly supports entrepreneurship, especially women entrepreneurs, and strategic governmental framework is in place for the long term with supportive measures for startups, growth and internationalisation.

Furthermore, there are special governmental programmes to support and equip entrepreneurs with digital skills to help them adapt to Industry 4.0 and IoT that are enabling access to global markets.


Photo Credit: By Hunters Race on Unsplash.

25 Apr 2018
Last modified: 16 Jul 2018
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