Release your inner entrepreneur – this country needs you!

An event being organised by Entrepreneurship in Denmark, for both internationals and expats, hopes to uncover the business owners of the future

Times are tough. Employment numbers are down and poverty has increased as more welfare benefits have been cut. On top of that, councils have also indicated that more layoffs should be expected in 2013. But while it’s hard enough for natives to find work in this country, it’s even more challenging for expats.

That’s why there’s a drive to encourage unemployed Danes and internationals alike to stop applying to businesses and start their own. And that’s exactly what the ‘Entrepreneurship in Denmark Award 2012’ is about.

On November 13, Entrepreneurship in Denmark is opening the doors of the Axelborg convention centre in the city centre to host an event for everyone and anyone who wants to start a business.

“You don’t have to be Danish to be a success,” said Karsten Buddom-Olesen, who’s closely involved in setting up the event. “We especially want to attract international people to this event so that they can use their international links to help jump-start the Danish economy.”

Other than workshops, speeches and lectures that are set to occur throughout the day, participants will also witness the crowning of the ‘Best International Entrepreneur of the Year’ among a selected group of new businessmen and-women all fighting for the title.

Currently, there are ten nominees for the award, which will soon be narrowed down to a top five. One of the hopeful businesswomen in the running is an Australian named Lauren Bowey, who founded her company, called ‘The Green Suitcase’, around the notion of recycling and sustainability.

“When I first came to Denmark, all I heard from other expats was how difficult it is to find work,” Bowey said. “So I told myself that the best way to tackle being unemployed in a new country is to hire myself.”

Bowey decided to take Australia’s latest obsession with sustainable products and sell the idea on to Danes, whom already see vintage objects as must-haves in their lives.

“Retro has been ‘hot’ down under for a while now. And with reusable things being constantly thrown out everywhere in the world, I thought this is something I can also do in Denmark,” Bowey explained.

But Bowey hasn’t forgotten her roots. Before she set up shop in Scandinavia, she spent three months in her home country networking with designers and other businesses, which she could then use when she move back to the northern hemisphere.

Bowey’s business strategy is a prime example of the type of expat initiative that this event is trying to promote. Soulaima Gourani, a lecturer, business advisor and author who will play host to the event’s opening ceremony, says that it’s young entrepreneurs like Bowey that can help kick-start a frail economy.

“Award ceremonies like this are vital to encourage new innovative businesses in Denmark,” Gourani said. “The system in place is old-fashioned and outdated. We need more creativity. We need the industry to be more sexy. And we need new young faces to help drive us out of this recession.”

Aside from the celebration of business-minded individuals, Gourani also points out that the event is especially unique because it offers potential international upstarts free advice on how to succeed in the Danish market.

“Being an entrepreneur in this country is difficult,” Gourani said with a sigh. “High taxes make it hard to employ a workforce. So it’s important that people get advice on how to succeed here, and you can get ample of it at this event.”

Buddom-Olesen agrees and says that the workshops on offer will be especially there to match previous challenges that international businesses have gone through but that have not been well-documented.

“We have a great opportunity to show people how the wonders of the internet can make anything possible. Especially if you have an international background,” he said. “The internet allows global networks to thrive in a way that wasn’t fathomable 15-20 years ago, and that’s where being an expat is a real advantage.”

Business has changed. As Gourani points out, starting a company used to be solely about making a profit and nothing else. Now, on the other hand, more industries are being set up with the intention of making a difference in people’s lives and the environment around us.

“Yes, money is important, but scale is vital,” Gourani stressed. “And we’re increasingly seeing ‘feel-good’ businesses jumping up all over the place that are just as much about personal ambition as they are about making a living. We want to help guide that ambition to success. All you have to do as an entrepreneur is to turn up to the event.”

Living in a recession is not easy. Starting a business in a recession is even harder. However, with expert advice on how to succeed, it might not be the worst time to start a business but, in fact, the best time.

Learn more and sign up for the award show here no later than Wednesday 7 November.

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