Risk-free entrepreneurship now an option for students in Ghent
The Gentrepreneur Company provides a safe space for young entrepreneurs to develop business ideas
Lowering the threshold
The initiative builds on an idea developed at the city’s Artevelde University College, which has successfully coached 50 students on the way to entrepreneurship over the past few years. Now the concept has been expanded to include Ghent University and University College Ghent (HoGent), so that all students in the city can take advantage of the scheme.
The idea is to promote entrepreneurial thinking in young people and to make starting a company a realistic career choice. “We think it’s important that young people be able to explore different career opportunities, including entrepreneurship, and work on entrepreneurial skills that they can use later on, either in the workplace or eventually in their own company,” said Hilde Gekiere, the project’s co-ordinator.
Student entrepreneurs can join the Gentrepreneur Company by purchasing a share. In return, they can call on the business coaching and other services offered by the co-operative.
These services include handling bookkeeping and a number of other administrative tasks, so that they can concentrate on developing their main business ideas. Students will also have the assurance that they are legally secure.
While developing a business through the Gentrepreneur Company they remain tax-dependent on their parents, keep all of their social rights, such scholarships, and they do not incur debt.
“Students need to be able to explore entrepreneurial skills in a safe environment, without risking bankruptcy and without losing themselves in an endless piles of paperwork,” Gekiere explained.
Even if they do not go on to start a company, the experience of trying will be valuable. “It’s an extra incentive to develop competences for the future, including taking the initiative, creative and innovative working, and solution-oriented thinking,” said Koen Goethals, HoGent’s managing director.
The Gentrepreneur Company aims to help up to 50 students each year.
Photo: Tibo Ceulers Photography/Gentrepreneur