Europe’s young entrepreneurs stand out from the crowd

By October 13, 2017March 6th, 2018News, Press release

Young entrepreneurs from six member states have found a place on Ferd’s List, a new annual celebration of European entrepreneurship.

The List recognizes the achievements of these award-winners not only as entrepreneurs but also as significant contributors to society. In the words of Johan H. Andresen, Ferd’s Chairman: “We’re honouring these Europeans for their lasting values and clear footprints.”

Mr. Andresen presented their awards at a ceremony in Brussels jointly hosted by Ferd JA Europe and the Ambassador of Norway to the EU, Mrs. Oda Helen Sletnes.

The first honourees were David Darmanin (Malta), Christian Erfurt (Denmark), Erik Fjellborg (Sweden), Boris Kolev (Bulgaria), Chris Slater (UK), and Claudia Suhov (Romania).

What they have in common are careers first formed by entrepreneurial training in school. At the celebration they spoke eloquently about the importance of learning entrepreneurship at a young age – even at primary level.

They also underlined the need for more volunteers from businesses to close the gap between the world of work and education, to give access to entrepreneurship experience to a larger proportion of students, and to encourage skills development.

Above all: entrepreneurs must be learners: “it’s been seven years since I founded Kidster and I’m learning new things every day,” said company founder Claudia Suhov. There should be no shame in failure: learning from failure is part of the mix of experience, the honourees agreed.

Also important: creating more opportunities for young Europeans to travel and to learn, expanding their networks at the same time “Think big: go global quickly,” said David Darmanin, CEO of Hotjar.

JA Europe and Ferd selected the six honourees as exemplary leaders and role models. Each is driven by a desire to succeed and to give back to society.

EU representatives and leaders from the world of innovation joined a panel discussion on how entrepreneurs can contribute to job creation and growth.

By way of introduction, Johan H. Andresen said:

“Entrepreneurship is too important to be left to entrepreneurs alone. We need to develop an entrepreneurial mindset in all young Europeans.”

This is what Ferd’s List is all about: not just recognition of the success of young entrepreneurs but a demonstration of the impact of JA Europe’s programmes on young people and the ways these young entrepreneurs can inspire European youth to follow their example by developing their entrepreneurial skills. “Europe is dependent on you”.

The message was clearly heard by EU representatives. “What the EU Institutions can do is to showcase best practices, bring people together to discuss the topic. To create evidence-based policies, it’s important for us to get the feedback from these young entrepreneurs who started at an early age.” said Ulla Engelmann from the European Commission’s DG GROW. “We need to invest in education and teachers to equip young Europeans with the necessary entrepreneurial and digital skills,” added Eva Maydell, MEP and one of JA Europe’s ‘ambassadors’ for entrepreneurship.

Ferd’s List will be an annual celebration. The 2017 honourees are outstanding exemplars of the importance of fostering the entrepreneurial mindset in young people.

“Less than 20% of students have access to entrepreneurial education courses at their schools”, said Caroline Jenner, CEO of JA Europe in closing the event. “This has to change”, she concluded.


Ferd is a family-owned Norwegian industrial and financial group that is an active and long-term owner of strong companies with international potential and an investor in a broad range of asset classes. In addition to the group’s purely commercial activities, Ferd has a strong record of involvement in social entrepreneurship and micro finance.


JA Europe is Europe’s largest provider of education programmes for entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy, reaching 3.5 million students in 40 countries in 2016. JA Europe brings the public and private sectors together to provide young people with high-quality education programmes teaching enterprise, entrepreneurship, business and economics in a practical way.

Media contact

Philippe Giot
Communications & Digital Media Officer, JA Europe