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Helping VOKA entrepreneurs take their business to the next level
When you start designing a tailor-made business education programme, you know from the start that the only way it will ever grow and prosper is by fulfilling its objectives. This is why we are particularly pleased that the business essentials programme we worked on with VOKA, the Flemish C...
Marianna Rousaki |Author
Marianna is the Content & Social Media Coordinator at Solvay Brussels School - Lifelong Learning.
When you start designing a tailor-made business education programme, you know from the start that the only way it will ever grow and prosper is by fulfilling its objectives. This is why we are particularly pleased that the business essentials programme we worked on with VOKA, the Flemish Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has been a success for so long. Originally developed for VOKA Limburg, it has since been extended to other regions, such as West and East Flanders.
Starting from the entrepreneurs’ needs
Personalisation was the key element in the decision to work with Solvay Lifelong Learning. VOKA wanted a programme that would be both short and impactful, where their members would acquire tools that could immediately be put to good use. And it was important for them to have a say in its design.
For Axelle Henrard, Director of Owner-Entrepreneurs for VOKA Limburg, this was the key element in the decision to work with us:
Our members are active entrepreneurs, so they need to acquire tools that they can immediately put to good use. They know they have to take some time away from their business to reflect and think strategically, but they wanted to do it in a down-to-earth, close-to-home way. Above all, we did not want them to buy something ‘off the shelf’: we wanted the contents of the programme to be grounded in their daily reality, and we wanted to have a say in its design. This is why we chose to work with Solvay Brussels School.
Only the beginning
The successful collaboration between VOKA and Solvay Lifelong Learning has led to the creation of various programmes. Participants' satisfaction with the Business Essentials inspired VOKA entrepreneurs to develop an advanced version with a focus on internationalisation. Additionally, other jointly developed programmes like Business Games, HR Programmes, and Industry 4.0 have been introduced. This collaboration has sparked a self-improvement trend among VOKA alumni, who are now benefiting from other training opportunities in the VOKA portfolio.
Taking regional differences into account
The methodology we developed for our Company-Specific Programmes always starts from the needs of the participants. Of course, there are common elements to all our business essentials programmes. For example, they are always built around five modules that each last two days: Leadership, Strategy, Finance, Innovation, and HR & Sales. These elements allow us to cover all the areas of knowledge a business owner might want to expand to start thinking differently about their business. However since the idea is to give entrepreneurs actionable tools to work with, we adapt the content of each module to their needs.
Teachers with an entrepreneurial background
VOKA entrepreneurs also appreciate that most of the teachers have entrepreneurial experience. As well as their up-to-date academic knowledge, they also know what it’s like to be in the entrepreneur’s shoes. VOKA works with coaches who have a crucial role: they act as facilitators between VOKA, SLL, teachers, and participants. Their work allows us to better understand the needs of the participants and fine-tune the programme to make sure these needs are met.
To reinforce the link between theory and practice, participants are asked to work in small groups on real business cases. The cases are brought by the participants themselves, mostly about their own company. Groups vote on which cases they want to work on. Very often, their conclusions lead to concrete ideas that the entrepreneurs can then apply to their businesses.
Want to know what Solvay Brussels School can do for your company? Request a tailor-made programme!