Dear Junior Entrepreneurs, dear partners, dear supporters and guests,
Welcome at JADE Spring Meeting 2014, the International Congress on Entrepreneurial Skills for Youth! It is a pleasure to welcome you all to our event and I hope that, by the end of it, you will have found something worthwhile to have as take away: be it a memory, a lesson, a friend, or merely a feeling.
Just to create a sense of awareness regarding this congress, I will let you know that we have 230 Junior Entrepreneurs attending, of 22 nationalities, and over 30 guests representing businesses, be it entrepreneurs or corporations, European institutions, global organisations, foundations, educational institutions, national governments, lobbying organisations, think tanks and …. basically everything you can imagine!
You might wonder how he chose the topic of the event – well, looking at the youth unemployment rate, going over 20% in Europe, in 2013, we thought about the relevance of our Junior Enterprise concept in this context and for today’s youth challenges. The answer stands unchallenged in our statements, in who we are: JADE – students fostering entrepreneurship. We have a beautiful network of over 20 000 students, who make around 30 000 projects per year, summing up to 16 million euros of turnover. The numbers speak for themselves, but beyond this, this is not the essence of our movement! Our movement is about people and about changing people’s lives.
The Junior Entrepreneurs are young people who are infinitely more prepared to face the challenges of the labour market. You have a rich experience, acquired through all the projects you worked on, developed through a” learning by doing” practice. But even more than the technical and soft skills acquired, one of your biggest gains is the entrepreneurial spirit you develop:
- You are more prepared to face challenges; you seek them, tackle them and learn from them;
- You are proactive in your life, you directly influence it, rather than being bystanders of your own story;
- You know how to deal with failures and how to make them part of the learning curve;
- You are hustlers; you fight for what you want;
- And, the most important thing, you make yourselves happen; you create and recreate the people you are and will be;
Looking at you now, and looking at our network, I see these attitudes as essential in the value we bring to society, because we are not “students creating entrepreneurs” (even though 25% of our Junior Entrepreneurs become entrepreneurs), but “students fostering entrepreneurship”, more than creating them, fostering a spirit. And I do believe each one of you carries an entrepreneurial attitude and spirit.
We, as JADE Headquarters, we are not the only ones who believe in you and as proof stand all the guests who have joined us today! Our concept is highly recognised by European institutions as a best practice in entrepreneurship education and development. Moreover, in November 2013, JADE organised a panel with United Nations Industrial Development Organisation on the topic of “Productive work for youth”, taking a step closer towards collaboration with global organisations. After all, our concept is global, being present on 4 continents, and you will be able to meet, in the next days, the President of Brasil Júnior, our sister network, who has joined us for the event – welcome and thank you!
Many of our partners recognised the strength of our network, by working with us over the years, without taking into account all the partners working with our national structures, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their support! Even more thanks go to our Advisory Board, true believers, supporters and promoters of our Junior Enterprise network.
Dear Junior Entrepreneurs, over the next days you will meet amazing people, not only our guests, but also fellow Junior Entrepreneurs. I encourage you to interact with them, to exchange, to learn from each other and to understand how our strength lies in our network because, after all, together we grow!
Thank you and enjoy the rest of the day!
JADE President 2014