Although the EU has prioritized the support and enhancement of youth entrepreneurship over the last years, thousands of young entrepreneurs are still facing burdens and social exclusion, while in many cases their initiatives are unsuccessful due to lack of competences and knowledge.
This is the main conclusion of the desk and field research – in which 154 young entrepreneurs and experts on the field of business participated – that was carried out from January to March 2022 by the European initiative Stars4SD in Greece, Italy, Austria, Belgium and Cyprus. The Stars4SD initiative aims to support youth entrepreneurship, innovation and active citizenship by promoting SDGs in practice.
The survey found that even though entrepreneurship initiatives may be offered (including entrepreneurial training programmes, financial incentives, etc.), there are still many barriers that prevent youth entrepreneurs from starting and/or keeping a business alive. In particular, bureaucracy and the complexity of the administrative procedures, lack of systemic support, as well as lack of entrepreneurial skills, which slow down the process of setting-up and running a business are highlighted in the Stars4SD survey.
- Even though the majority of responses revealed a generally positive stance towards SDGs, it remains evident that lack of knowledge or interest still prevails in the partners’ countries.
- Many companies/organisations have no insight into the SDGs and what they can expect from the inclusion inside their businesses.
- The integration of the SDGs is more challenging for SMEs rather than big, established companies.
- More and more startups approach sustainability as an integral element of their development, incorporating sustainable principles within the company’s strategies and core values.
- Special attention should be paid on mobilizing/engaging youth entrepreneurs to promote the five SDGs to their companies/organizations.
- Competences required for sustainable entrepreneurship include both hard and soft skills.
- The ability to develop a business plan and model that take into consideration the SDGs can be a good starting point regarding their integration into businesses.
- The attitude needed for sustainable entrepreneurship could be “willingness to adapt to change”.
Participants in all partner countries said that youth employment could be better supported with financial support through funding projects, vocational education and training, further support to youth startups, as well as creation of new opportunities for apprenticeships.
A few words about Stars4SD
Stars4SD is an Erasmus+ project that aims to strengthen youth entrepreneurship and promote youth active citizenship and innovation, by providing support for young entrepreneurs and trainers about the importance of five Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – namely provide quality education to youth entrepreneurs, gender equality, decent work and economic growth, reduced inequalities, and responsible consumption and production – by providing a methodology and guidance on how to meet these SDGs, and also by rewarding young entrepreneurs who take the necessary steps to meet the SDGs.