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, innovating, or growing their businesses.
The program “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 GIZ. 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 program is to contribute to the Albanian Business and Investment Development Strategy 2014-2020 and its second pillar, the Smart Growth: Increasing Labor Force Qualification and the foreseen measures to “develop training programs and respective modules on entrepreneurship”.
With its activities regarding private sector development, the ProSEED program 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 project 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 the private sector – intends to also build up a Network of Mentors
The IDEA-Challenge offers a unique opportunity to 2000 innovative start-ups, to scale up their entrepreneurial competences and business skills, by helping them to develop the necessary set of skills for generating ideas and delivering 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 inclusive, training methodology, used in more than 60 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.
During 2018, 2019, IDEA Challenge received 2000 applicants from all over Albania – 968 participated in the first module from more than 8 regions – 366 completed the second module – 275 completed business plans.
94 business plans are supported by the IDEA grant scheme managed by the Ministry of Finance and Economy.
During 2019, 40 IDEA Challenge selectors presented their business ideas to an independent professional jury, with representatives from private, public and financial institutions, and the “E Diell” program at Top Channel made them popular throughout Albania.
Anyone participating in IDEA training, will receive the IDEA Business Plans Competition Certificate and will have privileged access to the IDEA Grants scheme.
The feedback received from participants is highly positive and they are happy with the setting of all activities, in all the phases.
What are the plans for 2020?
Applications for IDEA Challenge are opened until 31 January 2020. There will be 6 regional competition in Tirana, Berat, Elbasan, Vlora, Shkodra, and Korca. The first training module will run parallel in 6 regions from all over Albania with 400 participants, covering topics such as entrepreneurial skills and traits, generation and selection of ideas, team work commitment, etc. The advanced business competence training will continue with 2 modules on business planning and financial planning in 6 locations, with 180 participants selected. Topics to be covered will include: business planning, Lean Canvas, key indicators and main activities, good understanding of the market and its important elements, how to plan with a budget and manage finances, as well as innovation.
Individual coaching will be provided to the new entrepreneurs to elaborate their business plans, and group coaching will be provided during „Be an entrepreneur” bootcamp in 4 locations. With an IDEA training certificate and a fully elaborated business plan, they are ready to apply for the IDEA Grant and other financial sources.
Top 40 selected participants will benefit from the experience and wisdom of the mentors. Albanian and foreign successful business people will be present during “Meet the mentor” weekends, in face to face meetings or by phone, in order to support the elaboration of the business plan.
40 winners of the regional competition, will take part in national competition. 16 best business ideas selected as finalists will attend the rehearsal workshop to boost their presentation skills. Finalists will give presentations in front of jury members and other IDEA partners to convince them of their business IDEA and business plan. The 5 winners of the IDEA Challenge will be automatically awarded with the IDEA Grant.
To learn more about the IDEA project and its activities, you are invited to watch the videos below and check our social media.