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Erasmus: a win-win deal

Erasmus: a win-win deal
By Euronews

<p>Business Planet this week is in the ancient city of Klaipeda in Lithuania, looking at an EU program to help entrepreneurs.</p> <p>Today it is the dream of many people to set up their own business. </p> <p>And there is an exchange program dedicated to helping you get started … it’s called ‘Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs’.</p> <p>Its objective: To help business people refine ideas and develop skills with other entrepreneurs. </p> <p>Founded in 2005 Velobic was initially one shop, then a second was added. But soon, the owners realized the business was too seasonal and resolved to diversify. They decided to get into the bike courier and messenger game. </p> <p>In 2009, one of the owners, Rimvydas Butkus, spent three months at a bike courier firm in the Austrian city of Graz. He wanted to test the idea and put together a solid business plan.</p> <p>He outlines what he gained from the experience:<br /> “I learned how to target customers, who would use this service, doctors, dentists, small printers … I acquired all the ‘know how’ to manage this type of business, and it also helped me learn more about the cycling culture in Western Europe”.</p> <p>With the experience gained from the Austrian exchange, the company has increased its revenue by 10% every year, and plans to hire new riders over the coming weeks. They are the first, and so far, only, company to offer this service in Klaipeda.<br />  <br /> Rimvydas Butkus outlines the advantages to the firms who use his new service:<br /> “The main advantage for our customers is we can move quickly, and the bikes are environmentally friendly and, of course, quiet”.</p> <p>To date, more than 3,200 people have participated in an Erasmus exchange program. It runs in 37 countries, mainly European. Each individual exchange lasts from 1 to 6 months and the European Commission pays part of the cost.</p> <p>For a new entrepreneur, Erasmus is an opportunity to test his or her idea in real life, and to begin to develop a network of contacts. </p> <p>Here in Lithuania the scheme is run by Saretas. The managing director and local contact is Reda Nausedaite. </p> <p>She explains, that despite its title, Erasmus is for someone of any age: <br /> “This program is not only for young people. You have to be a new entrepreneur with a great idea – with a new business approach -, or you can have already started the company, [it must be less than] three years [old]”.</p> <p>For the hosts, the satisfaction level is high. Almost all say they would welcome another exchange.</p> <p>Reda Nausedaite again :<br /> “They get a new fresh mind on board. So they [the exchangee] might support their [the host’s] organization, they might support new ideas, invent new things … They work as a team”.</p> <p>Rimvydas Butkus says he took a lot from the program:<br /> “For me, the key to success is to think globally and act locally, to launch the business with zest, and use the experience gained during my stay in Austria”.</p>