MY-WAY is a project that was launched in January 2015 with the aim to enhance and improve the collaboration and efforts of web entrepreneurship initiatives. We wanted to know more about the project and what is exactly happening, so we asked Pablo Hernández, External Relations Director of AEGEE-Europe, and Ioana Duca, Project Officer of the MY-WAY project, some questions.
The AEGEEan: Can you tell us a little bit about the project?
Ioana: The MY-WAY project is a two year project, funded by Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. The project started in January 2015 and its aim is to improve the collaboration and efforts of web entrepreneurship initiatives (startup hubs, accelerator networks, etc.), internet and business experts (accelerators, mentors, etc.), educational actors (business teachers and trainers) and young adults as the final beneficiaries (through student networks, student entrepreneurship initiatives, etc.). I’m the Project Officer of MY-WAY project and responsible for two stakeholders meetings. The first one took place on the 12th of November and the second one will be in the last week of January (the date is still under discussion). My current position gives me all the logistical responsibilities for the events and some content responsibilities.
As you already mentioned, the first stakeholders meeting took place on the 12th of November. How did it go?
Ioana: Yes, we had our first stakeholders meeting on the 12th of November in the European Parliament, hosted by MEP Brando Benifei, Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. The aim of this event was to bring together successful web entrepreneurs, business teachers, trainers, members of student networks, student enterprise centers, and actors managing initiatives and programs on web entrepreneurship and to encourage active discussions between participants on effective ways of providing support while also establishing further cooperations. We had 25 participants in person and 25 participants online, plus even more people following the event online. At some point we had around 154 people watching the streaming.
Pablo: Everything went very well. The event gathered people from very different backgrounds and different roles in the web-entrepreneurship world so they could exchange experiences and good practices. The European Parliament is the perfect place to host this kind of activities, giving us the space, the visibility and the opportunity to address a member of the European Parliament. We also had the opportunity to have a keynote speech by Mr. Gonçalo Lobo Xabier and the intervention of many other relevant people trying to improve the entrepreneurship ecosystem.
MY-WAY is not an AEGEE project, but AEGEE is a partner in it. How does your experience in AEGEE helps you work for this project?
Pablo: The role of AEGEE within the project is to bring the youth and student perspective into the project. We are the main target group and possible beneficiaries of the outcomes of the project so my experience in AEGEE helps me giving the input from the students point of view at the different stages of the project. There are other tasks in which we also have to have a guiding role and for those, like the organisation of the stakeholders meetings, my previous experience in AEGEE is crucial, because I can put into practice what I did by organising some activities in the past.
Ioana: I think my experience in AEGEE helped me a lot. The experience that I gained in these five years and a half is very hard to be described in words, but I can say that it made me the person that I am today. All the events that I organised (around six Summer Universities, plus other local events), all the experience being in the board of my local (Secretary, President and SU Coordinator), plus all the responsabilities in European Bodies (as CD assistant twice and Comité Directeur) gave me a lot of knowledge. They even changed me, and moreover all these gave me the chance to experience everything that I know and learned and even more, to be challenged and to learn more, to discover more. Being a volunteer is definitely not a waste of time and energy. Being an active AEGEE member is never boring and for nothing, it is for you and the person that you want to become, it is for a life full of challenges and experiences.
Can members from AEGEE locals be part and get actively involved in the project?
Pablo: There are some ways to actively get involved. Some months ago we had to research the actual state of web-entrepreneurship and we launched a survey across the network. From now on there will be some events organized by the partners of the consortium for young people and in some cases, we can reserve a place to AEGEE members. But now the main involvement that we as AEGEEans can have is to create a platform to debate and organize activities related to web entrepreneurship following up on the results of the project. The Comité Directeur is willing to help the members in this process and support all this kind of initiatives.
What are your plans in the near future regarding the project?
Pablo Hernandez: My plans regarding the MY-WAY project are mainly to organise the second stakeholders meeting, which will consume a lot of our time. There are other activities that involve us in the project too, like the partners meeting, attending some conferences to bring the youth perspective into play, writing reports of our tasks and disseminating the results of the project, which will finish by the end of 2016.
How do you see the project in five years?
Ioana: Hopefully there will be a continuity, maybe a second phase of the project if the consortium decides to apply with another project to give continuity to what we already worked on. But even if this will not happen, I think the results will give the chance to still be able to work on the topic and will create some bridges and long term collaborations between stakeholders.
Written by Raluca Radu, AEGEE-Cluj-Napoca