The mention of Erasmus usually sends one’s thoughts to student exchange, crazy parties and university credits. However, the famous exchange program has a “little brother” – the less known but perhaps more valuable Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs (EYE).

What EYE does, essentially, is pair aspiring young start-uppers with experienced entrepreneurs around Europe so they can acquire the skills necessary for launching and running a small business. The duration of each such collaboration is between 1 and 6 months, and the whole shebang is paid for by the European Commission.

Who Is EYE For?

The participation eligibility of young entrepreneurs depends on a few conditions, though (there’s always a catch, sigh…). You can only be considered for the program if:

  • You have a solid business plan and are determined to start a business;
  • You have started your own business within the past 3 years;
  • You are a permanent resident in one of the participating countries (Bulgaria is such a country);
  • You are motivated and committed to fully collaborate with your hosting experienced entrepreneur from another country; and
  • You are ready to cover the expenses outside your EYE funding.

The good news is that there is no age limit for you to take part in the program (age is just a number, right?). There are also no restrictions on the sector, in which you have launched or plan to launch your business. If you are to invent the next big thing in baked goods for example, you are good to go – we are soooo over the cronut already; just throwing an idea here, you are welcome.

Local Contact Points

On a local level, the EYE program is facilitated by the so-called local contact points. There are five such points for Bulgaria – three in Sofia, one in Stara Zagora and one in Godech. That last one seems a bit random but hey – we might be looking at a new hot spot of the Bulgarian start-up scene here.

The Program Step by Step

EYE has been around for 5 years now, and it has been nicely streamlined. Here are the steps participating young entrepreneurs should be prepared to follow:

  1. Application: preparing your resume, motivation and business plan.
  2. Online registration: submitting your the docs from the previous step online.
  3. Build a relationship with a a host entrepreneur (you can either find one yourself or choose from a catalogue).
  4. Agree on the collaboration details with your host entrepreneur and submit the details to your local contact point.
  5. Sign a Commitment to Quality document and a funding agreement.
  6. Start your stay abroad.

There is a lot of paper work involved, which is to be expected by any European Commission initiative. This apart, though, the logistics are pretty straight forward and the process is fairly simple.

Why Participate

the help that you’ll be getting with EYE is on-the-job training in a small or medium business abroad, the wisdom of experienced entrepreneurs, creating and/or expanding your business network, etc.

If you have any experience with entrepreneurship already, then you probably know that you can – and should use any help that you can get your hands on. And I mean any help. Starting your own business is a lot like having a newborn – before it sees the light of day you swear you will do all the work yourself and promise yourself you won’t let anyone else have their say in your business, your baby; however soon enough you end up severely sleep deprived, all out of energy (and possible – money), and you are ready to share to call your mom and ask her to babysit. And when I say “your mom”, I mean your host entrepreneur.

I’m sure you can do it all by yourself but if you are willing to refuse relevant, sensible and most importantly free help, you may not deserve to call yourself a start-upper. As simple as that.

To find out more about EYE, visit http://www.erasmus-entrepreneurs.eu/.