On 31 January 2021 the project “Entrepreneurship, women and advice: a network of resource centers in the border areas” (EWA) has become the first Latvia-Russia CBC project to complete its implementation phase. The project was started on 31 May 2019 by the team of beneficiaries:
- Proprietary Establishment of Supplementary Education “SPb Social and Economic Institute” (St. Petersburg, Russia),
- Private educational institution INTELCAP (Pskov region, Russia),
- Society Mentori (Riga, Latvia)
- Business Women Association of Latgale (Latgale, Latvia)
- Zemgale Region Human Resource and Competences Development Centre (Zemgale, Latvia)
Within the 20 months of operation EWA’s ambition was to sustainably contribute to women entrepreneurship development in the border region. The project beneficiaries jointly worked on
- development of the business support environment and set up new and re-equipping existing resource centers (RCs) for women in Pskov, Velikie Luki, Daugavpils and Jelgava;
- building the female SMEs and micro businesses capacity and established the RC network and mentorship services to be maintained after project lifetime. The series of seminars and trainings were delivered to actual and potential women entrepreneurs and mentors, “Digital Thinking Manual” was developed and published;
- instruments, which help promote products and services offered by the female entrepreneurs across the border. Digital exhibition “Women’s project” and digital Latvian-Russian catalogue of female businesses were developed, and presented.
It is noteworthy, that the project targeted not only existing female businesses. It welcomed audacious women, who feel potential to make their hobbies and skills an endeavor, which would bring profit, sense of fulfillment and satisfaction with life.
One of the EWA’s distinctive features, which helped the project successfully sail through pandemic storm, was using the benefits of digital environment. From digital exhibition and catalogue to online events and 3D printers, the project encouraged female entrepreneurs to embrace cutting edge approaches to their businesses and startups.
Looking back at the expectations at project start, Ms Elena Kalinina, the lead beneficiary project manager, points out that “all the project planned results have been reached. Yet, no one could imagine that the digital aspect of the project would enhance so dramatically. The number of digital contacts among women entrepreneurs increased and events delivered online allowed for a larger coverage of the project target audience than the traditional event would allow”. Ms Kalinina mentions that it is particularly valuable that the project implementation led to “increase of the role the RCs. Initially meant for consultations and mentorship, they have become the safe harbor for micro business and startups, which helped minimize business costs by providing the office place and pilot-testing of products/services. Importantly, the RCs became the place where women trying to build up their own business can get peer moral support and encouragement”.
It goes without saying that partnership predetermines the success of the project. In EWA the beneficiaries established good cooperation, and Ms Kalinina observes that “although the partners were somewhat new to each other in the beginning, they developed very tight contacts as the project progressed. And this fact allows developing the initiatives started by EWA – the partnership will live further. Our stakeholders expressed huge interest in continuous experience exchange and dissemination of project results, which makes it possible to expand geography of the RCs network and to provide even more comprehensive support to women entrepreneurs”.
We wish the very best of luck to the beneficiaries in developing the initiatives laid down by EWA project – training, consultancy and mentorship to female entrepreneurs as well as the RC network operation.