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Practical examples - Entrepreneurship
Verbund Enterprise show that the obstacles faced by disadvantaged groups when trying to become an entrepreneur must be dealt with systematically, in a series of steps, that provide an integrated pathway or ladder into self-employment.
One stop shops : Verbund's work in Berlin illustrates how the concept of one stop-shop has evolved from that of one organisation trying to do everything under one roof to that of partnerships which orchestrates the inputs of grass roots youth organisations, mainstream business advisors and financial institutions into a tailor made package of support for young people.
They have developed a pathway made up of 4 clearly defined stages: profiling (4 weeks) planning (3-12 months), start-up (6 months), and consolidation and growth (3-5 years). Each stage involves the provision of a variable menu of services (counselling, training and qualification, mentoring and access to micro-credit) which help the entrepreneur to acquire both the personal competences, the skills and resources that are necessary for success. They then use the Development Partnership to pull in both specialist and mainstream providers (e.g. Chambers of Commerce) to provide different parts of the support package in each phase
Verbund has gone so far as to create an enterprise "pass" which provides a clear and transparent road map of the progress made by the entrepreneur at each stage. The enterprise pass has been accepted by the Berlin Volksbank as the central instrument to evaluate the performance of young business starters. Holders of the pass are fast-tracked for a micro-loan. Several other business support institutions have expressed interest in using the pass and the Berlin and German governments are considering whether to develop a complementary "coaching" pass.
Quality standards for business support. Verbund Enterprise has also designed an Enterprise Quality Management Structure which compares the four stages of enteprise support mentioned above. Together with the other German DPs in the entrepreneurship pillar they have created the the "German Start-up Centre", a national association supported by the Ministry for the Economy and Labour which provides a forum for comparing and transferring the approaches of the different DPs to other institutions across Germany.
Increasing outreach. Verbund Enterprise has set up four satelite centres for young people in urban neighbourhoods of around 300,000 people recognised as being deprived by Berlin's "Social City" urban redevelopment programme. They argue that the central issue is not just location but creating a style which is positively attractive to young people and good referral networks from both social services and youth groups
One of the arguments against such decentralisation is the cost. However, Verbund Enterprise calculate their extremely broad and integrated service to young people costs around 6,000 euros in an inner city location and 8,000 euros in a rural area. Given unemployment benefits of 750 a month this means that the costs are covered after 8 months self-employment in the city.
Building an entrepreneurial culture. Verbund Enterprise has used a travelling photo campaign for young people in Berlin "Changes of perspectives, courage to leave the nest, experience teaches you how to fly" and a poster campaign. The images used by Verbund and other DPs all show people who are confident, energetic and fashionable.
The results of the Enterprise network of 27 advisors and 47 mentors are impressive: 380 companies created since the year 2002, 85% by young unemployed people, 55% by women and 14% by ethnic minorities.
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