Started in 1986, the ANJE – Associação Nacional de Jovens Empresários (National Association of Young Entrepreneurs) is a private law association of public utility whose goal is to associate young Portuguese entrepreneurs, with a view to defending common interests and developing their professional activity, namely regarding training and information. Impelled by the will to defend the interests of its associates and promote young entrepreneurship, the ANJE has attempted to establish new development paradigms in Portuguese business and encourage less conservative attitudes regarding risk.
Amongst the activities, services and events organised by the ANJE, it is worth highlighting promotion of entrepreneurship, through its Entrepreneurs Academy; design and divulgation of facilitation instruments for business start-up; provision of business and juridical consulting services, namely in business incubation centres throughout the country; promotion of internationalisation strategies and new development paradigms, namely in the textile sector, through the well-known Portugal Fashion Show; overcoming of the technological deficit; provision of support to innovation and organisation of professional qualification actions, available on-site and from home.
With approximately four thousand associates, over fifty employees, ten operational areas and several regional centres and local delegations, the ANJE undertakes activities of undeniable public relevance. Effectively, this association is considered by law as a social partner.
It all started in 1979 when a group of young entrepreneurs taking their first steps in business decided to meet and form the Young Entrepreneurs Wing. This was an informal structure, unable to face the obstacles set in the way of starting and developing companies in Portugal. Therefore, the group proceeded to form a true association, hoping to be able to fully defend the interests of young entrepreneurs. The ANJE – Associação Nacional de Jovens Empresários (National Association of Young Entrepreneurs) was then founded on the 29th July 1986.
At this time, Portugal had already overcome the most acute stage of the economic crisis that followed the April Revolution and public finances were already under control. On the other hand, the country had just joined the promising EEC. Nevertheless, Portuguese economy remained restrained by constitutional obstacles, the weight of the State was suffocating, bureaucracy stifled private initiative, competitiveness was based on the low cost of production factors and currency depreciation, banking institutions did not facilitate investment (particularly to young entrepreneurs) and the business culture was completely obsolete.
Therefore, it was necessary to fight for the liberalisation of the economic system in general and, in particular, to attempt to create better conditions for young entrepreneurs to access and pursue business activities, in a proficient manner. These were the lines of action followed by the ANJE, which progressively assumed the role of flag-bearer of the Portuguese entrepreneurial movement.
In this fight against the obstacles set in the way of free initiative and for the emergence of a modern business culture, the association worked in two fronts: institutional representation before political decision-makers, attempting to raise their awareness to the specific contingences and needs of young entrepreneurs, and sector intervention, through structuring initiatives.
These structuring initiatives were developed within the scope of financial instruments for business start-up, professional training and qualifications, business and financial consulting, promotion of entrepreneurship, career and technological changes, critical competitiveness factors (quality, design and creativity) and promotion of innovation and R&D.