I am an entrepreneur with a business idea but haven’t created a company yet. Can I still apply to CONNECT?
Of course! CONNECT is looking for early stage entrepreneurs, who are either firmly planning to start their own business based on a concrete project reflected in a substantiated business plan; or who have their own business in operation for not more than 3 years, preferably.
Does nationality form part of the selection criteria?
No. Permanent residence does, however. Please read carefully the meaning of permanent residence and learn which countries are eligible here.
Is there a minimum age requirement to participate in CONNECT?
Yes. The minimum age requirement is 18 years old.
Is there a preference towards a specific sector of activity when selecting entrepreneurs?
No, all sectors are eligible.
In which language should I provide my application?
The application should be completed in English, but the Business Plan can be submitted in Portuguese or Spanish as well.
Can I choose the state and city in Brazil where to go to?
Whether a specific market is relevant for your business, or whether you have family/friends living in Brazil who may provide support in accommodation, for instance, you may write down any geographic preferences in the “further relevant information” field of the application form. If you have a preference towards large and busy metropolis or towards more affordable cities, please let us know as well. Within our possibilities with the matching process, we will try to make it happen! If you don’t have any idea where to go to, don’t worry: the focus of the matching process is the business sector and skills needs. We have many possibilities and Brazil has a lot to offer!
How does the matching process with a host entrepreneur work?
Host entrepreneurs in Brazil also apply to participate in CONNECT, and we have a database of potential participants with relevant professional background, working in different fields and in different states. This database will not be shared with the selected entrepreneurs. The CONNECT management team will match the selected new entrepreneur from Europe with an adequate host entrepreneur in Brazil, taking into account the sector of activity and the interests of both entrepreneurs. However, if you have an idea of a company or incubator in Brazil where you would like to be mentored at, please inform us in the application form, indicating as well if you have initiated contact and asked them to register in the dedicated form to host entrepreneurs. This will of course facilitate the matching process.
Can I do an exchange with a host entrepreneur working in a different sector of activity than that of my business?
Yes. CONNECT accepts applications regardless of the sector and takes into account the entrepreneur’s business needs and learning interests during the matching process. If selected, we will try to match you with a host entrepreneur working in the same field, but this may not be the case for everyone. For instance, you may be experienced in IT and would like to improve your marketing and sales skills – then working alongside a host entrepreneur whose business focuses on communication may be beneficial for you. Likewise, your profile may interest the host in the sense that you provide complementary skills to theirs. Please be as concise as possible in the application when describing what you would like to take out of the CONNECT experience.
Is the Business Plan mandatory to apply or a brief idea of the project is sufficient?
The Business Plan is mandatory to complete the application and will account heavily for the evaluation and selection process.
Is there a specific template required for the Business Plan?
No, there is no specific template required. You can find official information from the EU on startups here. When choosing information by country, templates and advice on developing a Business Plan can be found, for instance, in the UK section. The Business Plan should be submitted in English, Portuguese or Spanish.
Do I need to speak Portuguese to participate in the programme?
Not necessarily, although knowledge of Portuguese and/or Spanish adds value to the application. Many host entrepreneurs in Brazil who have applied to CONNECT do speak English and we definitely take into account language preferences when matching entrepreneurs. Being eager to learn a few words and expressions will definitely help your stay in Brazil in case you are selected. Try Language Zen, Duolingo or Livemocha! Sabias que a língua portuguesa é a mais falada no hemisfério sul? :)
How does the selection process work?
The selection process comprises the following steps: a) validation of the application; b) evaluation and pre-selection; c) interview; d) second round of evaluation and possible matching; e) final selection; f) notification of results.
Is visa necessary?
Most likely not, as participants generally do an exchange of 3 months only. All EU citizens wishing to travel to Brazil for tourism or business are allowed to enter the country (all states) without a visa for stays of up to 90 days. Visa requirements are usually dealt with on a country by country basis, and CONNECT recommends that successful candidates contact the relevant embassies/consulates in their home country.
Do I receive financial support if I am selected to participate in CONNECT?
Yes, your stay in Brazil will be partially funded by the European Commission (1000€ lump sum for travel and 250€ lump sum of monthly allowance). You can find all information about the financial support here. Under no circumstances will the European Commission accept an amount higher than the one set. Participants must find other sources to cover their expenses in Brazil.
Do the participant host entrepreneurs in Brazil receive any financial support?
No. They are also not expected to have costs by participating in CONNECT.
Will I get paid by the host entrepreneur?
No. The programme does not provide work internships, but rather facilitates the establishment of fruitful and long term business partnerships between highly motivated entrepreneurs. Participants do not work for their host entrepreneurs and this is clear to both sides.
When must I do my exchange abroad and what is the minimum and maximum length of stay?
The exchange abroad for second wave participants will be between February and June 2015. The minimum length of stay is 1 month and it is expected that the majority of participants will stay in Brazil for 3 months (no visa required for EU citizens). CONNECT can provide a maximum of 6 monthly allowances per selected participant. Incomplete final months are also a possibility (eg.: 3.5 months), with a proportional final monthly allowance.
Concerning accommodation in Brazil, do I need to find a place myself?
Yes. Finding accommodation is a sole responsibility of the selected entrepreneur. However, the CONNECT team provides a Guide for selected participants with useful information and facilitates communication with the host entrepreneur, who may provide support in this regard.
Shall I define the activities I wish to conduct with the host entrepreneur in the moment I fill in the application form, or is that something to be done later on?
The activities are defined together with the host entrepreneur after the selection and prior to departure to Brazil. The development of the plan of activities is part of the “Planning and Commitment” phase (see How it works).
May I participate in CONNECT if I have already participated in the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme or any other projects funded by EU, such as former Erasmus Mundus or Leonardo da Vinci?
Yes, there is no restriction. Moreover, any international experience you may have is relevant for the evaluation and selection process, so do indicate it in your application.
Is CONNECT providing the mobility of entrepreneurs from Brazil to Europe?
No. CONNECT facilitates the mobility from Europe to Brazil only.
Who manages the CONNECT programme?
CONNECT is coordinated by the European Business and Innovation Centre Network (EBN).