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  • Writer's pictureHelve

SEB Growth program: SME's who benefit from an innovation mindset

SEB Growth program is a training program developed for ambitious Latvian small and medium-sized enterprises keen to fasten business growth. Under the guidance of international and local experts, participants work on their growth challenges within a supervised, six-month learning and testing process to find the growth hacks that work precisely for them.

The project is an initiative of the SEB Bank, and we at Helve partnered with SEB to take over the responsibility for programme management, mentoring, content preparation, and participant progress tracking. For us, as content owners, it was important that all the participants graduate from the program believing innovations are an essential catalyst for their further growth. For this reason, the program greatly focuses on innovation culture building and sustainability factor exploration. Our Innovation lead and SEB Growth programme manager Elīne Lizandere answers key questions about SEB Growth programme, currently open for applications for the 2023 cohort.

Why do we need such programs?

Elīne Lizandere: The Latvian business environment is still in a development phase, trying to catch up with the rest of the Western world. Innovation mindset and networking skills need to be constantly fostered. And knowledge transfer programs, as such, help to grow the ecosystem as a whole. They not only bring practical skills for participant business growth but also expand their horizons and ambitions together with their mindset changes.

We heard a lot from the participants during the program that their wildest dreams now don't seem so crazy with the newly gained knowledge and skill set. However, the program benefits not only individuals and their businesses. It also brought many learnings about different industry specifics to organizers. It will help us better tailor our products and services for their current and future needs, benefiting the market in general.

How can we foster innovation mindsets and who is responsible for it?

E.L.: When it comes to internal culture, surely an innovation mindset should come from its head, meaning – management. And the best strategy for internal innovation culture building, as for most things, is to lead by example.

We at Helve know well how easy it is to stick to old habits and dismiss new strategies. But we also know that innovation mindset is the one thing that clearly differentiates fast growers from those struggling to grab the prize. Thus, we always try to find time for projects that help grow business networks and inspire innovations. As an ecosystem participant, we believe it is all our responsibility to share the knowledge and learnings we gain along the way towards innovation culture building to benefit the overall market maturity.

We at Helve know that an innovation mindset is the one thing that clearly differentiates fast growers. SEB Growth Program gives SMUs the needed knowledge and push towards innovation.

How would you evaluate the maturity of the innovation mindset in the local market?

E.L.: There is room for improvement. During the SEB Growth program, we had the pleasure to meet with several businesses doing great in the local market, however, struggling to expand. Many of them, for years, had been thinking of exports but couldn't move forward. One of the most common reasons for this was the weak innovation culture within these companies. Unfortunately, that is a fact – your local successes won't just automatically translate to other markets. You have to be agile and ready to change, but it can be possible only with a strong belief in innovations. The good news, though, is that we saw the old patterns breaking during the program. Many graduated with eagerness to become the next game changers by not only applying innovations but also being ready to drive them.

Meet the SEB Growth Program 2022 participants and organizers in the video below - and join the next cohort!



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