Fostering entrepreneurship in seniors

The Senior Enterprise Project

The challenge

Due to demographic changes, those over 50 are getting more and more numerous in Europe. Recent statistics showed that in 2002, 27% of the population was over 50, and this percentage will grow to 35% by 2020.

Given the upcoming size of this group, it is imperative that their skills and experience be put to good use, however, their potential contribution is often overlooked. Economic challenges have left many searching for new opportunities, and there is a need for targeted training and support.

Project in brief

In response to this opportunity, the project Senior Enterprise worked to address two prominent concerns:

  • The challenges posed by an ageing population, and
  • The need to increase productivity, competitiveness, and entrepreneurial activity across the EU.

Senior Enterprise aimed to support new business creation, more investments, and aid more seniors in becoming advisors for new and developing businesses. Additionally, the project partners worked to change the way in which European and national policy makers and institutions viewed this age group.

Their main activity was creating a 9-week ‘Start Your Own Business’ course for people over 50, a series of workshops, and start-up packs for potential entrepreneurs. After the completion of the project, Senior Enterprise was able to identify 1,000 businesses that were launched with support from the training programme, supporting new business creation in senior citizens.

Senior Enterprise was able to identify 1,000 businesses that were launched with support from their ‘Start Your Own Business’ training programme.

The impact

According to their reports, the rate of early-stage entrepreneurial activity among the 50+ category in the UK and Ireland increased over the duration of the Senior Enterprise project. Strong groups and networks were also created, leading to continued meetings and courses after the end of the project period.

In terms of awareness, the project also influenced regional, national and European policy makers, and changed the perception of policy makers in respect of those aged 50 and over. For example, in their Report of the Entrepreneurship Forum, which was established by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland, seniors were highlighted as a group with entrepreneurial potential.

For example, the EU 2020 Entrepreneurship Action Plan highlighted the potential of those aged 50 and over as entrepreneurs and as mentors and mentioned the project as a good practice example.

Áine  Cuddihy, one of the participants in this project highlighted her experience with Senior Enterprise and was featured as a ‘Role Model’ on their website. She said: “The Senior Entrepreneur course was a phenomenal experience for me. I had made an awful lot of mistakes in the past. I learned to market my business better through Facebook and Twitter. Even a week after doing the course, I have secured five new orders and have more than doubled my Facebook followers.”

Áine ‘s example not only illustrates the direct impact Senior Enterprise had on her budding business, but it highlights the impact this project has had on supporting new businesses and increasing entrepreneurial activities among the over 50 age group


businesses launched with support from Senior Enterprise

percentage of the population over 50 in 2020


project partners

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