(ITW) Today ‘Starters ULB’ has taken the first step to becoming ‘UStart Entrepreneurship Club’ – SALTO MAGAZINE 2014

Today ‘Starters ULB’ has taken the first step to becoming ‘UStart Entrepreneurship Club’

Before talking about the exchange project in Canada, it is crucial that we talk about our club and how it has evolved since its foundation 10 years ago. ‘Starters ULB’ is, in the first place, a circle of students from the Université Libre Bruxelles, whose main goal is to promote entrepreneurship inside the campus by organizing different activities during the academic year.

Today ‘Starters ULB’ has taken
the first step to becoming ‘UStart
Entrepreneurship Club’

In fact, in 2013, Jessica Hakizimana, Nicolas Phillemote, Maria Wouters Rentero and Simon Souris decided to completely change the aim of the circle. The idea now is to create a nationally based network of young entrepreneurs from different colleges and universities. Every group will comprise 25 students from various faculties who are chosen to participate for one year in the UStart programme. The programme is based on three main axes: ‘Discover, Experience, Exchange’. Since the start of this new model, UStart is now present at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Université Catholique de Louvain and Ichec Brussels Management School, and we hope to attract even more schools of higher education in our new organization.

UStart offers a full academic programme. This way, during the whole year, the members of every club will have the chance to develop a project with the help of a number of conferences and workshops on how to manage teams, facilitated by Belgian entrepreneurs. They will cover different dimensions of entrepreneurship: from brainstorming and legal and accounting aspects to business plans and marketing strategies. Students will be followed and assessed twice during the academic year by a jury of entrepreneurs and business angels. The objective will be to validate their idea at the beginning and finalize their prototype at the end.

That said, the construction of a toolbox in the different fields of entrepreneurship and the development of a business idea are worthless without a share capital. This is why ‘UStart Entrepreneurship Club’ is trying to create a network through its walking dinners and meetings with entrepreneurs and its visits in the start-ups around Europe. What is more, the club organises a business trip twice a year. This is where the ‘Bureau International de Jeunesse’ (International Youth Office) played a major role. The founders had the chance to discover another approach to entrepreneurship and to meet with their homologues in Quebec, thanks to the support from BIJ. This was a whole new experience for the club because it gave them not only the opportunity to establish a strong bond with members of the Quebec clubs (who attend our National Entrepreneurship Seminar every year) but also to bring added value to Belgian entrepreneurship.

Today it is time to expand the impact of our club both in Belgium and abroad. This project therefore aims to develop a network of Belgian and Quebec students – entrepreneurs by building a bridge between Belgium and Quebec over the coming years. Our objectives are:

  • The establishment of an annual inter-clubs BelgiumQuebec exchange program;
  • The development of a common alumni network;
  • The organization of an annual francophone seminar;
  • The creation of a Belgium-Quebec internship program in the field of entrepreneurship.

During the exchange held in November 2013, several elements were already implemented. One of themain objectives was to create an address book with contacts. On this occasion, the Belgian delegation had the opportunity to meet several circles of Canadian students – entrepreneurs including the Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship, Laval University Club and the Club of HEC Montréal, as well as several Belgian entrepreneurs and expatriates attending the exchange.

This year, our delegation expects to meet them again to discuss an interclub partnership and to implement a medium term vision in order to achieve this common objective. In addition to this primary objective, we hope to encounter different aspects of entrepreneurship through our trips in Quebec, i.e. social entrepreneurship, ecological entrepreneurship, classic entrepreneurship, etc. In fact by experiencing these different aspects we wish to maximize opportunities and bring the knowhow to our country to develop these various concepts. We are also looking for new innovative ideas and meaningful ways of thinking that we can share and apply when we come back.

Finally, knowing that the experience abroad will add a touch of dynamism and eclecticism to ‘UStart Entrepreneurship Club’ and that it will allow us to expand the vision of entrepreneurship and bring it to an international level, we intend to promote this trip by organizing a photo and video exhibition from the recruitment campaign of our clubs within our University, but also from our Conferences or Seminars. This way we will show the impact that these events have had on us. We wish to emphasize the fact that entrepreneurship is an extraordinary thing full of lessons and opportunities.

To conclude, there is a phrase from A. De Lamartine which we believe embodies the ambitious objectives we have set for ourselves quite well: ‘There is no man more complete than the one who has travelled a lot and who has changed twenty times the shape of his thinking and life’.

ITW of Jessica Hakizimana (co-Founder of UStart Entrepreneurship Club) – Stéphanie NOWAKOWSKI (Editor-in-chief)



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