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Youngsters have plenty of ideas and dreams, and a long way ahead of them. It’s not all, but it’s true. You know that well, because you work to support them, so that they can make the best out of their lives.
But what would that look like, the best possible outcome, the target ideal, the moment when you would say “Hey, that one made it and might not rely on my support anymore”, when you see that they start creating the life of their own, independent life. We hope for the adults to carry only good values, to self-determinedly follow their own ways, to assume responsibility for themselves, others and the community, and to participate in the society and decision making process. This appreciated maturity is the general educational objective of lifelong learning and of Empowerment. Now, one of the key competences to get there is Entrepreneurial Thinking and Acting or, as the European Institutions call it, the Sense of Initiative and Entrepreneurship. Basically, it means the ability to come up with innovative ideas and put them into action.

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Photo credit: Plattform e.V. “Visiting an NGO in Weimar”

Words like “Entrepreneurship” are usually used in the context of start-ups, economic prosperity, individual and societal risks, and innovation. But if you think about it from the inside, you will find individuals that perceive and act in a certain way. This “Entrepreneurial” way of thinking and acting exists independently from legal bodies and beyond market development. Some call it an art. Here we discuss it as a set of competences, as a human potential in the world’s conditions. Many people in welfare context conceive entrepreneurship and economic issues either as something that is not their business or as the very cause of the social ills they try to remedy. So let’s have a closer look at what this entrepreneurial ability really comprises of. Here we set out the key competence Sense of Initiative and Entrepreneurship (The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, 2006) like we comprehend its definition.

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Photo credit: Plattform e.V.

The first facet refers to the characteristics of this idea. It is often labeled as innovation or opportunity recognition. The main idea is: one needs to understand the interrelations of a system, to spot the causes and preconditions of a problem, thereby to identify actual opportunities for improvement. Finally, to work out an effective solution that changes the sustainability of the system, i.e. an innovation, as an act of great creativity. However, not all ideas should be of societal interest. One shall create ideas that are in line with or promote ethical values and good governance.

The next element is more functional and names the skills needed to implement an idea. This is about project management (e.g. planning, managing, acquiring resources, evaluating and learning), leadership and team management (e.g. leading, delegating, collaborating, knowing the strengths and weaknesses), and communication (e.g. representing, negotiating, convincing). Moreover, volitional and motivational attributes are mentioned. Entrepreneurs need enthusiasm, incentive, pro-activity, persistence, motivation for an achievement, curiosity and autonomy. The last element describes a procedure that clearly conforms to the general educational objectives. Innovation to change systems, no matter what size they have or whether they focus on the individual or the society, is a clear form of participation. Good values are mentioned. And since here individuals or small groups forge new ways, it is about self-determination. Hence, the skills and individual characteristics enlisted in the final facets are resources to master life in general and in an everyday occasion. This is what we understand when we talk about the key competences.

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Photo credit: Plattform e.V. “Informal discussions”