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Entrepreneurship Education should be practical and playful

July 3, 2017

By MEP Kaja Kallas

I am supporting entrepreneurship education in Europe and Estonia as I believe starting with your own idea and working for oneself is the way forward. Internet has provided us with endless possibilities to develop ideas that would find few customers on a local level, but reach millions on a global scale. Young people are very creative these days and they see the world differently. We should help them to find the right tools to start with.

I believe that entrepreneurial education should be very practical. Real entrepreneurs should talk about their experiences – their successes, but more importantly about their failures. Young people need to see that it is OK to fail, you don’t have to succeed the first time you take something up. When you fail, you learn. Skype was created in Estonia and it was the 10th project of the same people. 9 previous projects had failed, but only the lessons from these failures helped them to come up with Skype that has enjoyed global success.

I also think that entrepreneurial education for young people has to be playful. In Tartu, Estonia there’s Ettevõtluskool, where young people are divided into groups and have to play the whole chain from forming ideas to selling the product. Each are given starting capital and in the end it is assessed who managed to grow capital and who lost. Government, bank, advertising agency, factory and other elements are all part of the process, so that young people actually have to play through all the steps of doing business including obtaining licenses, getting loans and paying taxes. In the end they can discuss what the hardest part was, share their biggest surprises and analyse what would they do differently next time. Playing it all through creates huge interest in building a business in real life and helps to avoid the mistakes they made during their studies.

Studies show that people who have established student companies during their studies are more likely later to start their own company. Considering that more and more young people don’t want to work for others, it is important that we give them the right toolset to develop their ideas. Some of them might come up with something that could make our lives easier.