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EVOLUTION

It all began in 1979, when a group of entrepreneurs still starting out in business decided to get together in the so-called Young Entrepreneurs Wing. This was just an informal structure and so was unable to cope with the obstacles to creating and developing companies in Portugal. As a result, the group set up a real association, in the hope that this would allow them to properly deal with the aspirations of young entrepreneurs. Thus, on 29 July 1986, ANJE – National Association of Young Entrepreneurs was born.
At the time, Portugal had overcome the most critical phase of the economic crisis after the April Revolution and its public finances were under control. It had also just joined the thriving EEC. However, the Portuguese economy was still hampered by constitutional corsets, the weight of the State was suffocating, red tape choked private initiative, competitiveness was based on the low cost of production factors and currency devaluation, banks did not facilitate investment (especially for young people) and the business culture at the time was completely obsolete. 
 
There was, therefore, a need to strive for the liberalisation of the economic system and, in particular, for better conditions both for young people' access to business and their ability to engage in it proficiently. This is what ANJE did, gradually taking over as the standard-bearer for the Portuguese entrepreneurship movement. In this struggle against the obstacles to free initiative and through the emergence of a modern business culture, the association's activity unfolded in two directions: institutional representation before political decision-makers, seeking to make them aware of the contingencies and specific needs of young entrepreneurs; intervention in the field, through initiatives of a structuring nature.
 

Intervention in Support Matters

With regard to financial aid instruments for setting up companies, the following actions of a structuring nature are of note: participation in the management of funds such as FAIJE – Support Fund for Young Entrepreneur Initiatives (I and II) and, later, SIJE – Integrated System of Incentives for Young Entrepreneurs and SAJE – Support System for Young Entrepreneurs; participation in several regional platforms from the FINICIA Programme and drawing up protocols in order to provide better financing conditions to young entrepreneurs, as is the case with the ANJE / Caixa Geral de Depósitos Credit Line, which became part of the Caixa Empreender solutions package in 2010.With regard to financial aid instruments for setting up companies, the following actions of a structuring nature are of note: participation in the management of funds such as FAIJE – Support Fund for Young Entrepreneur Initiatives (I and II) and, later, SIJE – Integrated System of Incentives for Young Entrepreneurs and SAJE – Support System for Young Entrepreneurs; participation in several regional platforms from the FINICIA Programme and drawing up protocols in order to provide better financing conditions to young entrepreneurs, as is the case with the ANJE / Caixa Geral de Depósitos Credit Line, which became part of the Caixa Empreender solutions package in 2010.

Forerunner in Business Incubation

In 1994, ANJE set up the Maia Incubation Centre and moved forward with the Faro Incubation Centre, the first in a series of 11 structures aimed at incubating and accelerating companies, which are now to be found all over the country.  

Driver of Development and Innovation

The focus on the promotion of internationalisation strategies and new development standards, in particular under the scope of the textile sector, led ANJE to introduce the Portugal Fashion project in 1995 and to its international expansion in 1999, with its first fashion show in Brazil. Many other projects, devoted to a variety of sectors or even multi-sector projects, continued this mission of raising awareness for innovation and development stimulation. Of note here is the Sabores de Portugal initiative launched in 2000 with the aim of promoting national cuisine.
 

Pioneer in the Promotion of Entrepreneurship

With an innovative idea for the time, in 1997, ANJE set up the Entrepreneurship Academy and since then it has been spreading the good word about entrepreneurship. Generally speaking, this mission consisted of making young Portuguese people aware of the need for a culture of initiative and risk. Activities such as the Entrepreneurship Trade Show and the Young Entrepreneur Award, started by the Academy, would become important stimuli for innovation and R&D, the transfer of knowledge from the academic world to the business area, reconverting human and technological resources and adding value to critical competitiveness factors, such as quality, design and creativity.

A Benchmark in Training

Since it was founded, ANJE's focus on the making the younger business fabric more dynamic has also included training. In other words, providing young entrepreneurs and their employees with the knowledge, skills and tools that will allow them to gain a foothold in increasingly competitive markets. Thousands of entrepreneurs, businesspeople, middle and senior management have taken part in training projects as diverse as: the Pessoa Programme, the GENE Programme – Generating New Entrepreneurs, the REDE Programme and, more recently, the SME Training Programme, the ANJE Post-graduate Degree in Management and TIL - Intensive Leadership Training. In 2011, ANJE training filled out its courses by adding a New Opportunities Centre.

Business Partnership

From the idea to the business plan, from the creation of a company to its international expansion, ANJE very soon put itself in position of proximity with entrepreneurs. Business and financial consultancy has always been an important aspect in the association and is dealt with under the scope of training/action projects such as the Fame Programme, the Rede Programme and SME Training. Business and financial consultancy has always been an important aspect in the association and is dealt with under the scope of actual and potential entrepreneurs.