“At the end of my voluntary service some Dutch companies started to ask for my services,” she recalls. “I did some copywriting and marketing, and I worked on websites. I was also asked to do training on professional networking at the Netherlands-Romanian Chamber of Commerce. This opened my eyes and I started to see the opportunities. There was a need for these services in Romania and I thought: I’ll start a business and see what is possible.” She drew up a business plan and registered her company in the Netherlands. “Two weeks later I applied for Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, and during the application process I acquired my first client.” The benefits Heijker was drawn to the Erasmus scheme because it offered a chance to exchange knowledge with an experienced entrepreneur. She hoped this would develop her own entrepreneurial skills, boost the start of her company, and also provide insights into doing business in Romania. She chose as her host Richard Reese of Imparta South East Europe, in Bucharest, the regional presence of a sales and marketing training company that has its headquarters in London. “Richard was the best choice for me because he had established multiple successful businesses in the past and he knows a lot about training.” She also saw what she could offer Imparta. “He needed an expert in online presence for his sales-development company. By helping him with this, I could add value for his company.” She is spending six months working with Reese, from mid-May to July and now from September to mid-December. Three hours are set aside each week to discuss issues relative to Heijker’s business. “I can ask Richard anything. He has helped me with contracts, with a client who looked as if they might not pay, for example, and also strategy and preparing for big events.” During the first three months, she completed many of her initial goals, including launching a professional website, building up a list of clients and gathering testimonials. Meanwhile, the subsistence support provided by the Erasmus scheme has eased some of the financial pressure. “I can focus on developing my business without worrying about how I will pay the rent.” Although Heijker has chosen Romania to launch her business, the scope is international. “I can work for clients everywhere in the world and move easily,” she says. “I’m passionate about having my own company. I can develop my business how I like it and I get the chance to help a lot of people. I have the freedom to work where and for whom I want and to develop my own services.” Starting a business that helps other aspiring entrepreneurs seems a bold step, particularly for someone just out of university, but communications specialist Anna Heijker saw a gap in the market and moved to fill it. “I help start-ups to pitch their business idea to investors,” she says. “I also help people and businesses to develop a one-minute pitch to present themselves in an optimal way. The results are that people feel more confident when they present themselves, network more effectively, acquire new clients more easily and generate other opportunities.” Heijker studied Dutch language and culture at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, picking up additional marketing and communications skills by working and volunteering at home and abroad. After graduating in 2011, she travelled in Australia and Vietnam for a year, then volunteered for six months as a marketing and communications officer at the Chance for Life Foundation, a children’s charity in Bucharest.