The book of a Snail Who Discovered the Importance of Being Slow…

When Gaia Laizzo, a social worker and educator from Italy, arrived in Belgium it was the two-week period of Easter holidays. In fact, her three months of the cross-border Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs program had perfect timing. First, schools were closed and parents were looking for alternatives to entertain their kids with fun and educative activities. Second, Gaia directly landed at Creiamo Insieme, a non-profit organization which offered a range of creative workshops for children like cooking and gardening…using the Italian language.

Could it be a coincidence that her new chapter in life started with “The Story of a Snail Who Discovered the Importance of Being Slow…” she read to children during her first days in Belgium? It was the fascinating story about a snail that embarks on a journey through the big world and embraces new knowledge of friendship and diversity… At the end, it seemed so familiar, she had also started her own journey in the big world of entrepreneurship...

kids

Passionate about teaching children, Gaia dreamt about opening a farmhouse or a farm, with the aim to develop in children ideas of green, seasonal nature. An Italian entrepreneur-to-be embraced the opportunity to travel and learn from the like-minded people who already launched their business and took pride in working in the similar field. Above all, it was a mutual contribution. “It is a very intense and interesting exchange experience (from educational and training side) and I hope to enquire the necessary skills to be able to operate alone, opening a structure, in this specific area”, said Gaia.

Let’s face it! Chips and fish is the best food ever

fish and chips

For many, entrepreneurship is a demanding calling, where the rewards for success are varied and great. Learning, beyond doubt, is a part of the entrepreneurial journey. Day-to-day work at a trade association and the previous experience as a trainee at the European Commission were keeping the flame of the dear dream to open fish & chips restaurant in Simona Ferrulli’s home country.

“When I applied for Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, writing my business plan on a fish and chip restaurant, I was sincerely doubtful that there will be the appropriate place for me”, said Simona before moving to Scotland. There she just nailed a two-month exchange program in “the Face of the Bay” the UK’s No. 1 fish and chips restaurant. “I am now just waiting to go there, and start learning as from day 1 of my experience how to manage a business like this. Why not trying new recipes together? I am very excited! It feels a bit crazy, giving myself the opportunity to change my life completely”.

Business (no) friend zone

Another young entrepreneur who took a turn in the fascinating entrepreneurial journey is Thomas Paris. The co-founder of Belgian startup Pictawall, a social content marketing platform, had moved to London for 6 months to follow the exchange program at Undiscovered London.

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“My experience was priceless. It helped me to understand the British culture and I got also introduced to great leads in the travel industry. Cool, I could help my host entrepreneur with his digital marketing strategy and gave him tips and tricks that he immediately implemented. We are now good friends and even planned a trip to Paris together for business and for fun”.

Clearly, these stories are encouraging signs. And whenever entrepreneurial journey sets its pace in every individual case, it is always a discovery and leads to priceless experience.

What's the exchange in practice?

Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs is a cross-border exchange program which gives new or aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to learn from experienced entrepreneurs running small businesses in other Participating Countries. The duration of the on-the-job training exchange may be from 1 to 6 months and is partly financed by the European Commission. Interested? Sign up now!

Got questions? Contact Diana Pati