Innovative businesses and entrepreneurship are key to competitiveness in the global economy today. They are the strongest generators of employment and income. However, starting or expanding an enterprise successfully requires entrepreneurial competences and business skills. Entrepreneurs of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are often challenged by requirements of expertise and financing that prevent them from starting businesses, innovating, or growing them.
The programme “Sustainable Economic and Regional Development Employment Promotion, Vocational Education and Training in Albania” (ProSEED) is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. The project supports the Albanian Ministry of Finance and Economy (MFE), and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and other relevant institutions, namely the Albanian Investment Development Agency (AIDA). A key element of the programme is to contribute to the Albanian Business and Investment Development Strategy 2014-2020 and its pillar 2 on Smart Growth: Increasing Labor Force Qualification and the measure foreseen to “develop training programs and respective modules on entrepreneurship”.
With its activities regarding private sector development, the ProSEED programme focuses on innovation and entrepreneurship development. The objective is to increase the entrepreneurial skillset among owners of new or existing SMEs who want to expand their business, in order to increase their potential competitiveness in the national and global market. The target group for this intervention is both men and women who are in the early stages of their entrepreneurial activity (in the process of setting up their businesses or have done so within the last 3 years) or who plan to innovate and invest in scaling up their business. The IDEA Business Plan Competition – implemented in close cooperation with AIDA and the private sector – intends to build up also a Network of Mentors and Business Angels.
The IDEA-Challenge offers a unique opportunity to 1,000 innovative start-ups, to scale up their entrepreneurial competences and business skills, helping them to develop the necessary set of characteristics, to generate ideas and to deliver a final, convincing business plan. IDEA-Challenge combines business development training, coaching and mentoring. It will provide the CEFE methodology to improve business development services in Albania. CEFE is a highly participatory, action-oriented training methodology used in more than 70 countries around the world. It encompasses theoretical and practical experience to facilitate the development of viable business ideas and plans.
Combining Business Plan training, together with coaching and mentoring, “IDEA Challenge” is designed as a competition in four phases and at each phase the most successful participants are identified.
32 finalists will be selected to present their business ideas in front of a professional independent Jury, composed of representatives from private, public and financial institutions.
Everyone that attends IDEA training gets the certificate of the IDEA Business Plan Competition and have privileged access to IDEA granting scheme.
During 2018, more than 400 new entrepreneurs participated in IDEA Challenge trainings that were developed in parallel in 7 cities in Albania: Tirana, Elbasan, Shkodra, Durrës, Vlora, Fier and Korça. Selected participants have learned within 10 days of very lively training, divided into 5 modules, and more than 2 months of coaching and mentoring how to develop a business.
More than 175 people have been engaged in the elaboration of 140 business plans for the finalisation of which, each participant has been coached individually.
40 participants were selected and have benefited from mentoring meetings with successful local and foreign businessmen during three weekends in different arrangement.
The 16 Finalists got practical presentation skills during rehearsal activity with presentation expert. They presented to the jury members and other partners, business angels, etc to convince them of their business IDEA and business plan. The 5 winners of IDEA Challenge automatically are awarded with IDEA Grant. Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy, representative of the German Embassy, and IDEA partners joined in the awarding ceremony. Many of IDEA partners offered their support for other finalists as well.
The feedback received from participant is highly positive and they are happy for the setting of all phase activities.
What is planned for 2019?
IDEA Challenge open application phase till 27 January 2019. First training module will run parallel in 12 groups all over Albania with 600 participants covering topics such as entrepreneurial skills and characteristics, ideas generation and selection, pitching team work commitment, etc. While the advanced business competence training will continue with 2 modules on Business plan and Financing plan in 4 locations with 150 participants selected. Topics covered will be on business planning, Lean Canvas, key indicators and main activities, good understanding of market and the important elements, how to plan with budget and manage finances, as well as on Innovation.
Individual coaching will be provided to the new entrepreneurs to elaborate their business plan. With IDEA training certificate and a fully elaborated business plan they are ready to apply to IDEA Grant and other finance sources.
40 best selected participants will benefit from the experience, and wisdom of the mentors. Albanian and foreign successful business people will be available in “Meet the mentor” weekends, face to face meeting or phone to support the elaboration of the business plan.
16 best business ideas selected as Finalists will attend the rehearsal workshop to boost their presentation skills. Finalists will present to jury members and other IDEA partners to convince them of their business IDEA and business plan. The 5 winners of IDEA Challenge will be automatically awarded with IDEA Grant.
In partnership with VET private providers IDEA offered training for about 50 people that attend the vocational education courses.
For more about IDEA project and its activities you are invited to watch the videos below and check our Blog/social media.