The International SEPT Competence Center manages its relationships with the alumni and alumnae within the frame of a wider and functional network: SEPneT (Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Promotion Network), which also serves as a platform for developing projects and services to be offered by members of the network.

A place to work at University Library, Photo: Leipzig University
MBA Program, Photo: Leipzig University

Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Promotion Network

Beyond traditional practices, SEPneT - Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Promotion Network allows to organize meetings and conferences all around the world in all topics related to small enterprise promotion and training for all former students. In this way, our alumni and alumnae have the opportunity to remain up-to-date and to have personal contact with their colleagues and former classmates.

The Small Enterprise Promotion Network is a network of more than 600 experts specialized in SME issues from over 70 countries. It has been sponsored by the DAAD. The alumni network brings together internationally oriented scholars, experts and practitioners from a wide range of academic fields of professional expertise.

It is our mission to become a networking and information platform for those alumni who are eagerly interested in the multi-faceted policies, strategies and best practices concerning SME promotion worldwide. Above all things, our members pursue the exchange of scientific knowledge by putting it into practice.

About

The Small Enterprise Promotion Network (SEPneT) was founded in November 2003 in Leipzig as a joint initiative of Leipzig University, the Technical University of Dresden, the University of Applied Sciences Brandenburg and the Technical University of Cottbus. In June 2009, the International Management of Resources and Environment Program of the Technical University Bergakademie of Freiberg joined SEPneT. Members of the network are young experts from developing and transitional countries, who have studied in Germany and are specialized in such areas as SME promotion, SME management, innovation and technology management, vocational training and resource and environment management. In 2004, the International SEPT Competence Center started activities in Vietnam, offering a master program in co-operation with Hanoi University of Science and Technology / VGU Ho Chi Minh City and extending the Alumni network to the graduated students from this country.

The main goal of the network is to facilitate and strengthen information and experience exchange of the members by representing a forum for joint research, discussion and projects design and implementation. Additionally the network offers its members training opportunities.

Given the study focus of its members, changing approaches towards SME promotion in developing and transitional countries will be one of the major research topics. The network, in the long run, aims at enhancing international co-operation and regional development through more joint projects and knowledge sharing between network members.

Goals

The goals of the SEPneT reflect the needs and aspirations of its members. We offer our alumni a wide range of learning and networking opportunities and are committed to the following:

  • To serve as a discussion forum, whereby theoretical topics, case studies and policy recommendations about SME can be rigorously addressed and formulated;
  • To provide the members of the network with competent advice and financial support in the achievement of their professional goals related to SME development;
  • To promote the continuing training focused on SME-promotion by offering our members various training opportunities especially tailored to their needs and interests;
  • To encourage communication and networking among students, alumni and faculty stuff;
  • To provide our young scientists access to a valuable pool of information resources;
  • To perform a public relations role and establish a good reputation in the international institutions concerned with SME- promotion.

As stated above, one of the primary goals of the SEPneT is to strengthen the exchange of information and experience between its members on the up-to-date topics important to SME development in various countries. To this end, our members have the opportunity to participate in seminars on diverse SME-related aspects organized on a regularly basis. Additionally, a virtual forum facilitates the constant dialogue between the members.

Joining the forces of its partners, SEPneT strives to combine interesting interdisciplinary approaches relevant to the promotion of SMEs. On the long run, our network strives to establish a good reputation in the international institutions engaged with SME promotion and to achieve sustainability. We aim at putting our know-how into practice and engaging not only in the design and implementation of international projects, but also in carrying out specific consulting projects.

SEPneT Events

SEPT Alumni conference 2020 on Implementing the SDGs – Practical Challenges, Creative Solutions and Best Practices for Knowledge Transfer and Policy learning

The International SEPT Competence Center at Leipzig University in cooperation with the Master Program in International and Development Economics (MIDE) at Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft (HTW Berlin) and the Master in Development Management (MADM) at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, realizes the Alumni conference 2020 titled, ‘Implementing the SDGs – Practical Challenges, Creative Solutions and Best Practices for Knowledge Transfer and Policy learning.’ The conference takes place at HTW Berlin (Germany) from 27th‐30th of July, including a day for career workshops.

Theme:
Sustainable development goals have become a cornerstone in the area of development, its implementation has led the international community to adjust its development policy objectives to accommodate the success of the SDGs. From 2016 to 2030, 17 SDGs were adopted to tackle problems affecting the world. There have been cases of success in the implementation process of these SDGs but, the process also shines a light on the basic obstacles and challenges which are still at large and continue to hinder the execution of SDGs. Obstacles can be of various kinds: political instability of countries, lack of proper execution framework, insufficient awareness at administrative levels, inefficient resource allocation to areas of concern and the pure nature of the SDGs, which lack a relevant statistical basis and skills at a national administrative level for the planning, implementation, and monitoring of SDGs.

The conference is thus dedicated to addressing these obstacles and challenges in the practical world, how to overcome them and achieve a successful realization of SDGs. This can be attained not just on an individual level, but through a process of knowledge sharing of approaches and arriving at creative solutions on a grand level. For the practice and the policy‐oriented academic debate, it becomes critical to identify how to systemize the SDG implementation problems and how to use qualitative methods, such as case studies to form creative solutions under the framework of know‐how transfer and policy learning. The conference aims to address these questions.

The conference is financed by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) with funds of the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Foreign Office (AA).

SEPT Alumni Conference 2019 on Evaluation of Development Interventions Current Debates, Methods, and Best Practices

The International SEPT Competence Center at Leipzig University in cooperation with the Master Program in International and Development Economics (MIDE) at Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft (HTW Berlin) and the Master in Development Management (MADM) at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, realized the Alumni Winter School 2019 on the topic of "Evaluation of Development Interventions Current Debates, Methods, and Best Practices".

The main objective of the 4-day Alumni Conference (November 4th – 8th) was to reflect how well typical evaluation practices yield the desired insights in the actual outcomes and impact of a development intervention. The expertise of our Alumni allowed us to address questions like: Which evaluation designs are in principle appropriate for the assessment of a development intervention? Which factors are relevant for choosing the design? What different methods are applied in practice for assessing a project’s relevance, efficiency, and effectiveness? How should we measure the impact and sustainability of an intervention, and how can appropriate steps be put in practice?

The program of the Conference 2019, Photo: SEPT
Alumni Conference 2019, Photo: SEPT
The program of the Conference 2019, Photo: SEPT
Alumni Conference 2019, Photo: SEPT
The program of the Conference 2019, Photo: SEPT
Alumni Conference 2019, Photo: SEPT

SEPT International Alumni Workshop on Education and Technology Transfer 2019

The International SEPT Competence Center at Leipzig University in cooperation with Technische Universität Dresden, Kirgisische Staatliche Technische Universität I. Razzakov, Université de Strasbourg, and Manas University, organized the Alumni Workshop on the topic of " Education and Technology Transfer".

The main objective of the 5-day Alumni Workshop (October 28th – November 3rd) was to discuss about the main challenges surrounding the topic of organizational and personnel development for the improvement of value chains in the agricultural sector and the food industry in developing economies.

Throughout the event, participants from Asia, Latin America, Europe and Africa, were able to exchange knowledge concerning technological innovation for Agri-SMEs around the globe.

The program of the Conference 2019, Photo: SEPT
Alumni Conference 2019, Photo: SEPT

SEPT Alumni Winter School 2018 on Digital Innovation for Development 2018

The International SEPT Competence Center at Leipzig University in cooperation with the Master Program in International and Development Economics (MIDE) at Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft (HTW Berlin) and the Master in Development Management (MADM) at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, is pleased to announce our Alumni Winter School 2018 on the topic of "Digital Innovation for Development".

The main objective of the 3-day Alumni Winter School (November 5th – 8th) is to develop an innovative digital education and coaching concept which could be used to present and implement selected educational content from the three German partner universities worldwide. The expertise of our Alumni will allow us to come up with fresh ideas for online education, coaching and consulting in the field of sustainable economic development.

The header of the conference flyer 2018, Photo: SEPT
Alumni Conference 2018, Photo: SEPT

International Alumni and Students Symposium 2016 in Germany

International SEPT Alumni Seminar 2016 in Bochum, Germany: "Doing Good with Business? - Corporate Social Responsibility, Social Entrepreneurship, and Fair Trade", in cooperation with Ruhr University Bochum, HTW Berlin, University of Duisburg-Essen, and DAAD, from 9th to 11th November 2016.

The Institute of Development Research and Development Policy (IEE; Ruhr-University Bochum) is organising an international alumni conference titled “Doing Good with Business? - Corporate Social Responsibility, Social Entrepreneurship, and Fair Trade” in Bochum (Germany) on the 9th-11th November of 2016. The conference is a collaboration between the MA programme in Development Management (MADM; IEE), the MA programme in International and Development Economics (MIDE; HTW Berlin), the Small Enterprise Promotion and Training Programme (SEPT; Leipzig University), the MA programme in Development and Governance (Institute of Political Science (IfP); University of Duisburg Essen), and the MA programme in International Relations and Development Policy (Institute for Development and Peace (INEF); University of Duisburg-Essen).

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), oftentimes being associated with Social Entrepreneurship and Fair Trade, is experiencing internationally an increasing interest and is hence strongly debated in the scientific and practical field. CSR measures are generally considered to respond to weaknesses of state-based regulation in developing countries. Deficits in national regulation and its implementation allow for production processes which frequently incorporate poor labour conditions and entail undesirable social and environmental impacts. By filling the regulatory gap in developing countries, CSR measures implemented within the private sector can be seen to address these development adverse activities of market participants. Among other sectors, this refers e.g. to the textile and apparel sector with its global value chains, the agricultural sector, which experiences the phenomenon of land grabbing in developing countries by internationally operating private agents, and the electronic sector, which is oftentimes criticised for the conditions of their resources’ mining and recycling.

The conference is devoted to the discussion of corresponding questions such as:

  • How are CSR, Social Entrepreneurship, and Fair Trade interrelated?
  • Which role do production standards set by private actors play in countries of production against the background of national and international public regulations?
  • Which measures can be undertaken for improving the social and ecological accountability of production processes?
  • How well do production labels give evidence on the social and ecological effects of production processes?
  • How can adverse effects of land-grabbing be considered within a CSR and Fair Trade framework?
  • How can the relocation of value creation in developing countries enhance the social and ecological accountability of global production chains, and how can producer countries’ industrial policies support this?

Workshops on these and on further related topics will be facilitated based on the submitted proposals. These questions will be discussed with international experts, alumni of the abovementioned Master programmes working related to this field, researchers, and PhD candidates.

As such, the conference offers a wide range of network opportunities between experts, practitioners, and scientists. Alumni have the possibility to present their organisation’s CSR related activities, and to get comments of colleagues. The conference is financed by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) with funds of the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Foreign Office (AA).

The program of the Conference 2016, Photo: SEPT
Alumni Conference 2016, Photo: SEPT

International Alumni and Students Symposium 2015 in Germany

International SEPT Alumni Seminar 2015 in Leipzig, Germany: "Economic & scientific cooperation between German and Vietnamese enterprises and institutions" in cooperation with Hanoi University of Science and Technology, DAAD, Hanoi IEC, TU Dresden, from 24th to 26th November 2015.

Celebrating 40 years of German-Vietnamese Diplomatic relationship, the International SEPT Competence Center (SEPT) of the Leipzig University is organizing the International Alumni Seminar on "Economic & scientific cooperation between German and Vietnamese enterprises and institutions" from 24th to 26th November 2015 in Leipzig.

Around 40 Vietnamese Alumni from the MBA in SME Development, which is offered in Leipzig, Hanoi and Ho chi Minh City in cooperation with the School of International Education of the Hanoi University of Science and Technology and the Vietnamese-German University in Ho Chi Minh City respectively are attending this seminar. Following a long tradition, Alumni from the Master Program in Vocational Education and Personnel Capacity Building of the Technical University Dresden are also taking part of the Alumni Seminar.

On the first day of the seminar (Tuesday 24th November 2015), Vietnamese business persons who are running their business successfully in Germany for long time share their experiences on the theme of "Vietnamese Business in Germany".

On second day of the seminar (Wednesday 25th November 2015), experts and consultants on "E-commerce and Online Marking" will deliver number of presentations which will give the Alumni a clear over view about online business in Germany.

On the last day (Thursday 26th November 2015), Alumni will have good chance to contacting and visiting the potential partners in Germany.

The header of he conference flyer 2015, Photo: SEPT
Alumni Conference 2015, Photo: SEPT
A student graduation ceremony, Photo: SEPT
Former Intake, Photo: SEPT

Alumni Testimonials

Picture of SEPT MBA Alumni, Photo: D. C.
Diana Cárdenas, Photo: D. C.

Before I came to Leipzig I got my degree in pharmaceutical sciences and I did a postgraduate study in Marketing in my original country, Colombia. I had managed several projects in the life sciences (pharmaceutical, biotech and medical devices) branches for big companies as well as for SMEs, in the divisions of R&D, sales and Marketing. Going to the University of Leipzig to pursue my MBA-SEPT studies was a decision based on the unique and exclusive curriculum of the program pretending to give insights of the business development, methods and techniques for improving and learning by doing, how to promote and develop business within an international context.

My most important career advancement through the studies was the capability to learn how developed economies incubate businesses and how these Starts-up could be sustainable and competitive. The tools provided during the master program let me to formulate strategies based on market research, strategic thinking and planning in my current position as a Research project manager for a German biotechnological-based company.

Although the program is entirely taught in English, the chance to learn German during the studies, to understand the culture and speak one of the most important languages in the world, is an advantage that qualifies a person in any field of his life. It is a pleasure to enjoy readings of Great thinkers, history or listen to music in the original language.

Picture of SEPT MBA Alumni, Photo: I. Y.
Isaac Yrigoyen, Photo: I. Y.

My two years in Germany as SEPT student were a transformational experience from different points of view. I was exposed to a friendly and multicultural environment where I knew people from different part of the world what enriched my understanding about the diversity of lifestyles, beliefs and values.

This was also an intellectually stimulating place where I had the opportunity to discuss various topics with my professors and colleagues related to innovation, entrepreneurship, globalization and their impact in countries’ economic development as well as to visit institutions like United Nations, BMZ, DIE, DAAD, InWent, among others.

All these experiences opened my eyes to a new world that allowed me to reshape my thinking about my role as university professor in Peru and the impact of my work in my community. Today, I apply what I learned from my SEPT studies doing empirical research in Peruvian SMEs in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship and sharing this broader vision with my students.

Picture of SEPT MBA Alumni, Photo: E. P.
Ekatarina Protsko, Photo: E. P.

After having graduated from SEPT MBA program, I was working as a project manager in the Investment and Venture Fund. Now I’m the professor assistant in the Institute of Economics and Finance of Kazan State University and also the leader of the Republican Club of the Talented People “PERSPEKTIVA”.

The most important knowledge I’ve received from SEPT is the business cycle of small and medium company. That’s crucial to know how to find an idea for your small business, how to start a company and successfully run it not only locally, but also internationally.

I would like to stress this point - to successfully run small company on the international level. I believe that many people, having opened small business, have never even thought about the possibility to export their products abroad. But that’s possible! And the theoretical knowledge becomes even more crucial for the career when you receive practical experience from your professors, consultants and the whole program. By implementing modern tools for business idea creation, innovation management, marketing of SMEs, knowledge management in SMEs and many other important topics dealing with small and medium businesses, you receive the crucial background to being successful entrepreneur on the international level or consultant.

I would like to recommend SEPT program for both who wants to be entrepreneur and to be consultant. SEPT gives you all the necessary tools for that.

Picture of a SEPT Alumni, Photo: J. G.
Jorge García, Photo: J. G.

After completing my studies in Germany, I decided to transform my thesis subject into a real-life business model called Mindesa. I teamed up with another entrepreneur to make this business come to life. Mindesa started as a buying group for small scale grocery stores (abarrotes), is about to become a disruptive player in the Mexican grocery retail market.

The business model we have developed is based on organizing these stores into a franchised chain. Entrepreneurs who realize they cannot survive on their own, transfer their store to Mindesa. Mindesa then renovates and transforms it into a modern retail outlet under the Gudis brand. Once the entrepreneur has finished an on-the-job training in some other Gudis store and masters basic operational skills, he becomes a franchisee (comisionista) in his Gudis store.

It is our objective that an entrepreneur makes more money as a franchisee with us than as independent shopkeeper, while at the same time having social security and being in compliance with tax regulations. We believe that our "don't give them a fish, rather teach them how to fish" approach will create long-lasting benefits and a virtuous cycle.

My MBA-SEPT studies helped me completely visualize the potential to organize and modernize traditional businesses, while creating benefits to all stakeholders involved, and perpetuating long-standing community traditions. I recommend SEPT to everyone interested in getting a full picture of doing business from the "bottom of the pyramid" and up.

Picture of a SEPT Alumni, Photo: N. A.
Nadia Arévalo, Photo: N. A.

As a lawyer with professional experience in the corporate field, I have advised investment projects of Nicaraguan and foreigner of different sectors. I was part of their business development process from the idea conception, creation, legalization and management. I worked for 7 years as a lecturer in business law for the National Public University of Nicaragua (UNAN-Managua). In 2011, considering all these experiences, I decided to go back to being a student and looked for a master´s program which could enhance my knowledge on topics related to development economics, finance and marketing. Fortunately, I found MBA-SEPT and I was awarded with a scholarship by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to obtain a MBA degree at the University of Leipzig.

This academic preparation gave me the opportunity to strengthen my analytical skills by discussing projects and strategies with fellow students and experts from various sectors and nationalities. The program is about developing your expertise in your business projects using the tools provided by the professors. I considered my thesis as a unique moment which allowed me to assess the effectiveness of fiscal incentives on the growth of SMEs in Nicaragua. The research involved measuring the impact of legal instruments on the economic behavior applying qualitative methods to capture the complex underlying dynamics.

Actually, I created a blog Caffeine for your Business: www.cafeinaparasunegocio.com. This is a personal project whose main aim is to provide business and legal advices for SMEs. Besides, the website has an additional purpose, which is the promotion of the Nicaraguan products. The multicultural experience living abroad and learning about Germany allowed me to recognize the big opportunities that Latin American SMEs have to tap into the European market.

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