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Accreditation of Youth Business Germany


"In supporting young entrepreneurs developing their own businesses across the world, YBI ensures the highest standards of quality of service are met in the network. The mark of this quality is given by the accreditation status of the organisations in the YBI network. “We assess members on a regular basis, so our donors, partners and entrepreneurs can be confident in the quality of our membership – as well as our ability to deliver meaningful impact, across a wide variety of local contexts. - Katharina Gammon, Accreditation Manager, YBI"

The standards against which the accreditation assessment takes place cover areas such as effective governance, leadership and management, strong financial position, transparent and effective management, effective business processes and compliance with core operating principles amongst others. The process reveals the areas of excellence of the organisation accredited as well as areas of improvement which are being monitored by YBI over time, ensuring the organisation standards reach the highest levels.

In late 2016, the accreditation of Youth Business Germany (YBG) proved the organisation, and the programs it delivered, to be shining examples of the quality of service that YBI expects of all its network members. Given the stunning success of the accreditation, YBG is now regarded as a benchmark many organisations in the network can be measured against.

The journey to accreditation

In November 2016, Dr. Karol Szlichcinski, independent assessor and Chris Massey, Head of Network Members at YBI, met with members of the KIZ team, including CEO Marcus Weidner and YBG managing director Dirk Luenzer, in their offices in Offenbach, to assess the success of KIZ’s implementations of their Youth Business Germany program.

KIZ became a member of the YBI network in December 2014 and has been developing their Youth Business Germany program under the guidance of YBI, with the intention of floating the program as its own entity further on down the line. To gauge the ability of KIZ to implement the Youth business Germany program effectively, Karol and Chris also took time to chat with several entrepreneurs who had taken part in the program. Over the two days the assessor looked at many parts of the YBG program, including the organisational structure, mentorship scheme, and how the German team had helped their charges and judging from the feedback the scheme seems to have been a great success.

The first day was one of structural and organisational analysis. Chris and Karol met with members of KIZ’s senior team to discuss the business model, finances, and sustainability of the organisation, as well as discussing the training services available to the entrepreneurs and the mentoring scheme. The aim of the assessment was to provide an independent evaluation of KIZ’s programs and get a chance at giving KIZ and the Youth Business Germany team valuable feedback to ensure that the teams are working well and adhering to YBI’s principles. In this regard the assessor was extremely impressed with what he found, noting the impressive number of resources and facilities KIZ had on offer to help their entrepreneurs. Additionally, the quality and capability of the KIZ staff was recorded as incredibly inspiring. Assessments of the mentoring schemes and their connection with YBI’s partner, Accenture, proved fruitful.

Karol and Chris were able to learn more about how KIZ and Youth Business Germany were able to successfully implement the resources provided to them to create an effective mentoring scheme. These revelations were an extremely promising start for the first day of the assessment. After the success of the analysis on day one, the assessors focused on the quality of the service as perceived by volunteers and beneficiaries. Karol and Chris thus took time to interview both mentors and entrepreneurs who had benefited from support offered by Youth Business Germany.

The Mentor interviewed, Vanessa Kampf, provided extremely positive feedback to the assessors about how well their training had benefited their skills and abilities help better support their mentees. Further on this, Vanessa noted how well she had bonded with her two charges and was impressed by how astutely KIZ had managed to pair her with entrepreneurs who she had a great connection with. In addition, Vanessa had nothing but praise for Accenture, one of KIZ’s main donors, whose goals aligned so well with KIZ’s and whose benefit to the mentoring program cannot be understated. The goals from the relationship, to use Accenture staff experience and provide Accenture with entrepreneurial perspectives outside the corporate world, were clearly outlined and achievable.

On the same day, Karol and Chris were lucky enough to engage with the entrepreneurs themselves and hear their views about how they had benefited from the training and mentoring schemes. Entrepreneurs Maxine Schiffmann and Karolin Konig, who set up their business together, were both mentored by Vanessa and took part in several group trainings and other schemes led by KIZ. Maxine and Karolin were extremely positive about the training and resources given to them. The training on important areas for developing their business was of great benefit but of even more importance was the ability to engage with other young entrepreneurs. Being able to share with others in a similar boat helped the two feel secure in their business plan, as they explained; "it's really energising to be around entrepreneurs at different stages of their journey."

With regards to their mentoring, both entrepreneurs shared Vanessa's positivity about their relationship. According to the pair, Vanessa helped them "reflect on their ideas and decisions and challenged their own preconceived ideas" as well as helping them revalue the importance of being open with one another. The entrepreneurs the assessor met, such as Christina Plaka, were similarly positive about their experiences. Christina was struggling to find a career she really enjoyed until she signed up with Youth Business Germany who helped her transform a lifelong passion for Japanese Manga into a viable business. The interactions that the assessor had with both the mentors and mentees were illuminating and demonstrated the professional and functional abilities that KIZ and Youth Business Germany had.

"I was impressed that KIZ was a long-established organisation, and by its track record in supporting entrepreneurs from disadvantaged groups. I liked the fact that it had a business incubator on the premises; I was also very impressed by the quality of KIZ staff; several of them had left high-flying business careers to work in KIZ." - Dr. Karol Szlichcinski

The findings regarding the operating standards of Youth Business Germany brought this YBI member an unconditionally accredited status for up to 5 years. The high standards of Youth Business Germany will not only serve as a model, but are expected to support YBI’s accreditation work, which is regularly carried out throughout the network.

"The learning from best practice in governance, financial management, transparency, risk management and impact assessment was of such a great value that, right after the accreditation, we implemented certain tools and ideas into our own system to make it even stronger. […] After this intensive accreditation process, it’s proven that we belong to a very strong network of partners worldwide, who keep up with our quality standards or even exceed them." - Dirk Luenzer, Managing Director, Youth Business Germany, KIZ

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