Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs (EYE) is a cross-border exchange programme initiated by the European Commission in 2009. The programme gives new or aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to learn from experienced entrepreneurs running small businesses in Europe.
An exchange abroad with the seasoned entrepreneur helps the novice acquire the skills needed to run a small firm. The hosts benefit from fresh perspectives on their business and get the opportunities to cooperate with foreign partners or learn about new markets.
Who can participate?
- New entrepreneurs, firmly planning to set up their own business or have already started one within the last three years (see full list of eligibility criteria)
- Experienced entrepreneurs who own or manage a Small or Medium-Sized Enterprise more than three years (see full list of eligibility criteria)
The Participating Countries are 27 EU Member States, UK and the COSME countries – Albania, Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iceland, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine – as well as entrepreneurs from the outermost regions and overseas countries and territories of the EU.
The EYE programme in numbers (13.5.2022)
Iryna Kulynych, a 30-year-old aspiring entrepreneur from Ukraine, was working as a manager for a mobile operator when the Covid-19 pandemic began. With the whole world "on hold", she realised it was time to make a change and embarked on a journey that changed her life.
Iryna had the idea for her new business when the lockdown began and everyone could only dream of travelling. She started thinking about what travel would look like in the future and how to make the process easier. She wanted to help travel agencies and travellers find each other. And the EYE programme helped her do that.
Iryna matched with Ugnė Gajauskaite from Lithuania for six months. Ugnė is the CEO of "Veri - meni", a company that specialises in identifying new business opportunities and adapting to market changes. During the exchange Ugnė helped Iryna with business strategy. In return Iryna learned more about negotiating, the importance of business networks and building business partnerships. They shared their knowledge in the field of marketing and benefited from exchanging information about their countries' markets and different business approaches.
Iryna's company currently operates in the Ukrainian, Lithuanian and Dutch markets. She has no plans to stop and would like to expand her activities further. Iryna and Ugnė keep in touch and might develop some joint projects in the future.
“There are opportunities that cannot be missed, and Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs with Ugnė was one of them!”
Founder of “Your Imagination” start-up
Coming from a small country like Armenia, where women entrepreneurs are not encouraged, Nelly Davtyan’s wish to start up could not be driven further. She thus put together a team of experienced IT developers and founded ‘IT Solutions’ in 2016. The new business produces mobile and web-based applications in the tourism sector. Their first application, "Busticks travel”, saw the light in only three months.
In the early stages of her business, Nelly saw in Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs an opportunity to tap into the European market, given its advancement in technology. She particularly needed to learn more about the new technologies related to the tourism industry. She needed knowledge and advice from experts on how to produce a profitable service and be a leader in the field.
As host entrepreneur, she chose Angele Giuliano, the owner of Across Limits LTD, Malta. Angele is an experienced entrepreneur in the Education and Health Technology fields. After 20 years in busienss, Angele is now helping others as a business angel and mentor whilst still pursuing her aim of building better technology solutions to help society.
Nelly could not find a better mentor, she thus stayed at the host company cooperating alongside Angele for three months from March to June 2018. The collaboration helped Nelly overcome some of the challenges she was facing and, above all, shewas very successful in reaching new markets and managed to sign contracts with three important IT companies.
As Nelly also wanted to find out more about the tourism industry in Malta, she connected with travel agencies as well as with the biggest bus tour and cruise provider and was very successful in concluding sales agreement with them. As a result of her entrepreneurial journey in Malta, it took only three months for Nelly’s company to grow from a small start up to a sustainable business.
Nelly has been selected as the award winner of the EYE New Entrepreneur of the Decade (2009-2019) competition (video).
“Тhanks to Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, my company has grown from a small startup to a sustainable business.”
Founder of Antik Art LLC/ www.busticks.com (Start-up)