Encouraging entrepreneurship, creating jobs

With a philosophy of “teaching by doing”, the Start Ups Promotion project is deconstructing traditional ways of teaching business principles. Instead of textbooks and lectures, students learn through hands-on experience and mentoring by real business leaders. As a result, new businesses are being created.

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" The best way to learn about business is from business leaders, and therefore motivational lectures are given not by teachers but by real business people with real experience, among them those from the neighbouring country. "

Darius Karaša, Enterprise Initiative

In the post-Soviet era, an ongoing challenge for Latvia and Lithuania is finding a way to spark an interest in entrepreneurship among young people. Lacking a tradition of entrepreneurship, young people – and especially those studying in vocational schools – simply do not have the experience in starting up a business.

Research shows that leading reasons why young Latvians and Lithuanians are reluctant to start their own company include lack of financing and difficultly finding information about how to create a successful business venture. More so, there is a gap between the business world and business education, meaning today’s youth are not in contact with potential mentors and inspiration.  

Getting down to business

To bridge this gap, the Start Ups Promotion project aims to encourage young people from vocational schools to start businesses and, eventually, create jobs. To do this, they tackled the way business is being taught in schools.

Instead of lectures by teachers, the project brings business leaders and successful entrepreneurs into the classroom. Traditional teaching practices are replaced with informal learning methods that emphasise the importance of experience. Instead of research and papers, students learn through simulation games, interactive activities, hands-on training, motivational speeches and by creating actual business plans.

A clear impact

The project’s impact on the economic development of the regions is clear. Over 80 business plans have been developed and 10 new businesses launched. From these successes, it is expected that at least 15 new jobs will be created – not to mention an entirely new way of teaching business education in vocational schools.

On top of this, the project is also successfully fostering cross-border cooperation. For example, numerous exchange trainings have been organised, allowing participants to spend time in the neighbouring country to obtain a greater regional understanding.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Start Ups Promotion” is EUR 123 929, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 105 339 from the “Latvia-Lithuania” cross border cooperation programme for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

Draft date

12/12/2014