An economical area is being built covering the entire Carpathian Basin

An economical area is being built covering the entire Carpathian Basin

János Árpád Potápi believes that promoting Hungarian companies abroad is an essential advantage of both Hungary and Hungarian regions abroad.

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After strengthening the entrepreneurs at the regional level, we will try to connect them with each other, thanks to which we can talk more and more about a unified economic space in the Carpathian Basin, said the Minister of State for National Policy of the Prime Minister. Office of the Continuing Orientation Program. to the Hungarian nation. János Árpád Potápi believes that promoting Hungarian companies abroad is important not only for the affected people and start-up business owners, but also for Hungary and the Hungarian regions abroad.

The mentorship program was first launched in Vojvodina at the end of 2019. What is the theme of the initiative?

In 2015, national politics began to shift towards economics. In addition to supporting the preservation of identity, education and culture, the economic strengthening of Hungarians abroad and the promotion of their prosperity in their homeland is becoming increasingly important. To this end, in 2016 we announced thematic years for young Hungarian entrepreneurs abroad, and in 2017 for Hungarian family businesses abroad. We launched tenders to support cross-border small and micro enterprises, and at the same time we launched the Carpathian Basin Economic Development Program under the coordination of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. During economic programs, it is becoming increasingly clear that in addition to financial support, professional assistance is what Hungarian entrepreneurs need most abroad. With this in mind, we set out to build a network that connects entrepreneurs in the Carpathian Basin, as we did before with large families, sister settlements, pediatricians, kindergartens and schools.

How can this network be built?

We organized other forums and training courses, and started dealing with entrepreneurs at the level of the region and the Carpathian Basin. Hence the idea of ​​launching the Professional Assistance Program, which shortens the learning and preparation period for start-up entrepreneurs. This is important because it can take several years, even a decade, for a novice entrepreneur to become familiar with the economic, legal, and administrative environment and build the right network. To this end, we have launched a large-scale Entrepreneur Mentorship Program with our professional partner, Design Terminal. The goal of the program is to connect well-run entrepreneurs who have been around for many years or even decades with young startups. In cooperation, large entrepreneurs who have already passed on pass on their professional knowledge and experience to the beginners, that is, they guide them. The basic idea of ​​the program came from experience that the knowledge that can make supportive mutual cooperation within the region successful in the long term is also available locally in the Hungarian lands abroad.

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Where and when did the program start?

The mentoring program began in late 2019 in the South. It is customary to attribute a large part of our basic ideas to Vojvodina. The idea of ​​dual citizenship and economic development programs also took off from there. The Vojvodina section ended in early 2020, with the closing ceremony held in Palić. After Vojvodina, Transylvania followed, launching the program in the spring of 2020, after which we started to organize work in other foreign regions as well. Now the mentoring program in Croatia, the Highlands and Transcarpathia is running in parallel, and at the same time we started the second season in Transylvania, because we saw that there was a huge demand for it. So far, a total of five hundred entrepreneurs have participated in the programs in different regions, with 330 interns and 170 mentors. It is important that we do not lose touch with our partners, but rather work with them on an ongoing basis, throughout the year, through various programs.

Who can expect to run a mentoring program?

Our most important partner in Hungary is Design Terminal, which helps us in all areas. We also have collaborating partners in some regions, with Prospriate Foundation and Association of Young Entrepreneurs of Vojvodina in Vojvodina, with Pro Economica Foundation in Transylvania, with Economica Hungarica in Croatia, with Association of Hungarian Entrepreneurs in Transylvania in the Highlands together.

What does the mentoring program offer to trainees?

Beginner entrepreneurs get useful knowledge and a well-functioning business relationship system from mentors, which allows them to grow better and faster. When the mentoring program actually started, deals worth hundreds of thousands of euros were reported as a result of mentoring assistance. There were also those who inherited the business from their suddenly deceased father without all the necessary basic knowledge, which they were able to take up and develop thanks to the mentoring program. Their teacher helped them through the most difficult period. And, of course, there is not only a financial, but also a spiritual side to the initiative, in which foreign entrepreneurs enjoy the patronage of the Motherland and the mentor that they previously thought was unavailable to them.

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What do mentors gain from the program?

Collaboration means business relationships for them as well, as they engage the young and the novice in their own field. Additionally, the mentors reported that they gained new perspectives while mentoring. We’ve seen mentors who really enjoy working together, even if they don’t meet in person often but keep in touch online. There were those who, due to the epidemiological situation, saw each other only in person for the first time on the evening of the concert that closed the program. We are grateful to all the entrepreneurs who are mentoring for putting their time and knowledge at the service of society.

What are the benefits of the initiative to the motherland?

It is important to know that Hungarian entrepreneurs abroad employ more than ninety percent of Hungarians, so if we support them, we will help a large number of Hungarian families abroad. In recent years, the motherland has provided significant resources to the cross-border areas through economic development programmes, and I would like these subsidies to be repaid in such a way as to have a positive effect on Hungary as well. Since a significant part of foreign companies also operate in Hungary, and their trading partners are in many cases in Hungary, support for economic development will return to the Hungarian economy in the form of forint tax. In addition, one source of financing can attract additional funds from other places, strengthening the position of Hungarian entrepreneurs across the border, and ultimately Hungary, in the Carpathian Basin. Not to mention the level and speed of Hungary’s economic development in the transboundary areas, and it is in our interest that our neighbors be strong.

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What is the ultimate goal of the mentoring program?

As soon as the entrepreneurs are strengthened at the regional level, we will try to connect them with each other, thanks to which we can talk more and more about a unified economic space in the Carpathian Basin. We find that there are more and more foreign entrepreneurs who are already thinking about the entire Carpathian Basin in the context of their work, in practice. For example, there is a brandy distillery in Csíkdelén, where Chabanne makes high-quality brandy. Since little fruit is produced in Csík, the raw materials for pálinkas are sourced from other parts of Transylvania, Hungary or even the highlands, and are the best all around. And not just them, wineries actually work that way. This process has a very strong state-building power, which is of paramount importance for Hungary and Hungarian national policy.

Is the training expected to continue in the coming years?

We will definitely launch similar programs. In Vojvodina, for example, a similar initiative, My Successor, was launched immediately after the mentoring program was completed and continued. This helps to change generations in corporate life, which is much needed, because the smoother the process, the stronger the company. And if we take into account that ten, twenty or even hundreds of people work in a company, usually they are from Hungary, then this problem is also important for Hungary, so there will always be a need for such programs. In addition, over time, more and more companies catch our eye. Their support is needed, as well as the preservation of existing links, and the links between the actors should be as close as possible. In addition to the mentoring program, other initiatives also help, such as the annual meeting of Hungarian entrepreneurs in the Carpathian Basin, also organized by the State Secretariat for National Policy, where representatives from each region also meet. This is also in the interest of foreign companies and Hungary.

Cover photo: Janos Arpad Potabi, Minister of State for National Policy in the Prime Minister’s Office, will address the ceremony organized to mark the 20th anniversary of the Hungarian Sabentia University of Transylvania’s first academic year in Mercuria Ciuc in October. 3, 2021.

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