Award launched for entrepreneurs from southern Mediterranean  

Prize reflects emphasise placed by ARLEM on stimulating local business and helping young people.

The Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM) has launched a prize for young entrepreneurs from the European Union's partner countries in the Mediterranean whose work demonstrates an innovative mind-set. The panel, which will be made up of ARLEM members, particularly wishes to recognise entrepreneurial projects at the local level, developed with the support of local and regional authorities, reflecting the assembly's wish to encourage collaboration between the private sector and public authorities.

The prize, which will be awarded in Seville in 27 February 2019, is one of a range of recommendations contained in a draft report by ARLEM on how to promote entrepreneurship among young people in the EU's southern neighbourhood. The draft report, which will also be adopted in February, is the work of Domenico Gambacorta (IT/EPP), President of the Province of Avellino. The draft was discussed on 11 October in ARLEM's sustainable-development commission with experts from the European Commission and the European Training Foundation.

Mr Gambacorta's draft report emphasises the need to showcase success stories that emerge from an entrepreneurial-friendly environment created by local or regional administrations, and includes proposals directed at central government as well as local administrations. The report urges central governments to involve local authorities more in business policies, to develop business incubators, and to invest more in innovation, research and entrepreneurship. Local administrators should, the report says, try to ease the participation of women in the labour market, collaborate with chambers of commerce, and reach out to schools, diaspora communities and local authorities in other countries.

The debate in the sustainable-development commission of ARLEM, which was created in 2010 by the European Committee of the Regions to facilitate political contacts and practical cooperation with local administrations in non-EU countries on the eastern and southern Mediterranean, saw members point to range of areas with the potential to stimulate entrepreneurship among the region's fast-growing youth population.

Francisco de la Torre Prados, mayor of Malaga and member of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), and Mary Freehill (IE/PES), a member of Dublin city council and ARLEM's rapporteur on "women's empowerment in the Mediterranean region", emphasised the value of working with diaspora communities. Ms Freehill also stressed that politicians need to ensure that entrepreneurs can have a "second chance" if they fail with their first idea, while  David Simmonds (UK/ECR) from the London borough of Hillingdon spoke of the value of microcredit and of volunteering as a "well-proven… route to gaining experience". Marie-Antoinette Maupertuis (FR/EA), member of the Corsican council and the CoR's rapporteur on entrepreneurship on islands, said she was convinced that "there has to be genuine ownership within a community" of entrepreneurship policy, while a number of contributors argued that decentralisation of power between the levels of government is a critical factor in stimulating entrepreneurship.

ARLEM's focus on ways to stimulate the local economy was also in evidence a day earlier, on 10 October, when it held a workshop on "fostering local development in the Mediterranean via tourism and cultural heritage" during the European Week of Regions and Cities, an annual event co-organised by the CoR and the European Commission. Among the speakers was Rania Mechergui, a young eco-tourism entrepreneur from Tunisia.

ARLEM ENTREPRENEURSHIP PRIZE

Applications are welcome from entrepreneurs up to the age of 35 whose businesses have been active for three years or more in Egypt, Turkey, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Palestine, Monaco, or Montenegro.

The jury will award a project built with and for the community that can show results and a strong social dimension.

The deadline for applications is 30 November. ARLEM can cover the travel expenses of the two winners to Seville for the award ceremony.

A link for applications will open soon. For more information contact the ARLEM secretariat (arlem-secretariat@cor.europa.eu).