We have to seek global solutions
The chief of COSME, from the European Union program for SME’s and business companies, Natalia Martinez, was part of the Circular Economy Latin-American forum, held in Chile. She spoke of the program and the contribution of social networks to create circular movements.
Natalia has a degree in law at the Complutence University of Madrid and a master degree in “international legal studies” at the American University in Washington DC. She has held different important positions at the European Union, gaining a vast professional experience.
Currently, she is leading COSME, the first program of the EU for SME’s and business companies, as well as one of its cornerstones, the Enterprise Union network, having its core in Eurochile.
What are the main flaws of the SME’s that belonged to the European Union?
There are 21 millions SME’s enterprises operating at the European Union nowadays. And the main flaws are concentrated on the financing, innovation and internationalization. Through COSME program, we are focusing on helping people have access to the markets through finance but, at the same time, innovating and expanding overseas.
What are the strengths of European SME’s?
The perseverance they have to overcome problems. Not giving up. They are always trying to adapt to new models such as Circular Economy. Also, they are constantly seeking to use other existing resources in order to prevail within new markets and demands. Taking that into consideration, I think it is vitally important to go digital.
The importance of COSME
Cosme program and Natalia Martinez as its head are focused on people who can financially negotiate in favor of SME’s. It gives companies access to the markets, through the European Enterprise Network, which offers service to facilitate the expansion overseas and finances the industrial international cooperation. In the same way, its goal is centralized in improving competitiveness and sustainability.
What is COSME doing to stimulate awareness of women business work?
One of our main topics is precisely the role of women entrepreneurs. A new head of department has just arrived. She is scientific and is planning to encourage the gender power, because we all know that women posses a stronger business spirit, which is always on the rise. We are fostering and exposing all the programs where women are active agents. It is a priority.
COSME PROGRAM ends in 2020. What are the ultimate goals?
Along these 7 years, it is been a success. We are getting good results. That is why the program is still operating. It has even increased its financial profit and will be inserted in a unique market. So, I think this is the most important proof of success. It has been a real aid for enterprises to innovate, expand and keep afloat. Moreover, Europe is looking to implement this again and be back in the next 7 years offering a new helping program.
Natalia attended the Latin-American forum on Circular Economy, held in Santiago and organized by the Minister of the environment, ONUDI, and Eurochile. Then latter invited consecutively AL INVEST 5.0 project. “Partnership regarded as a strategy to improve productivity and competitiveness of Chilean MSME’s representing agro food and tourism.
During the colloquium, the chief of COSME pointed out the guidelines on “how networks can back up the integration of Latin American SME’s into the Circular Economy Framework.
What are the tools to foster Circular Economy you underlined in your lecture?
Firstly, the use of the European Network (Enterprise Europe) to gain access to the market which connects us with companies and institutions around the world. Also, we have LIFE program, dedicated exclusively to the environment. This program benefits from the association with COSME program. They work hand in hand. Likewise, the program called HORIZONTE 2020 that offers access to financing and opens the market to Latin American countries. Even when proposing a new project, it is essential to count with Latin American partners in order to ensure financing from a particular program. These are the main features to consider so the European Union can help SME’s in Circular Economy.
As you pointed out at the conference, how important is to work along with other companies and turn to social networks to carry out these models of Circular Economy?
The planet is unique and the waste humans produce have no limits. It is a grave disease we cannot treat in Europe. A plastic bottle in a river finds its way anywhere in the sea. So, we have to aim at global solutions. How can we find them? Internationalization is the answer. But how do we get that? By using networks. Networks can help European and Latin American SME’s so they can have the same goal: Circular Economy. As I said, it is not only a European problem.
She also invited SME’s and Chilean institutions to contact European networks, Enterprise Europe Network, via Eurochile to explore commercial opportunities, especially, with regards to new circular projects.