Did you know that only 28% of women hold leadership positions in European agricultural and livestock farms? Additionally, women in rural areas continue to encounter significant challenges in entrepreneurship and business initiation compared to their male counterparts in rural regions.
Despite policy initiatives aimed at bridging these gaps, recent studies reveal that female leadership and untapped entrepreneurial potential represent a valuable source of economic growth requiring encouragement and support.
In response to these opportunities, EIT Food and Smion have initiated the ‘” Empowering Women in Agrifood” program for Croatian female entrepreneurs in the agri-food industry
Collaborating with entrepreneurs from various European countries such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Spain, and Turkey, ten Croatian entrepreneurs from the agri-food sector will undergo a specialized 6-month pre-incubation program. This program is designed to address specific challenges within the agri-food industry and unlock the entrepreneurial potential of women in this sector.
EIT Food is backed by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), an entity of the European Union.
First Edition of the Croatian EWA Program
On Saturday, July 2, 2022, the Empowering Women in Agrifood project officially kicked off with a Matchmaking event, bringing together 10 selected participants and 10 mentors.
Aleksandra Bara, Project Manager of EIT Food North-East, was present at the event, welcoming the attendees and providing a brief overview of the EIT Food initiative.
EIT Food is the largest European initiative that supports and develops an innovative community to create better opportunities in the agricultural and food sectors.
The program began with networking and an introductory lecture by Dr. Miro Hegedić about the EWA program, followed by the mentor introductions. Filip Stipančić and Danijel Milošević explained the various aspects of mentorship and how it assists entrepreneurs.
Next, the 10 selected participants presented their 5-minute pitches:
With the aim of cultivating organic fruits and vegetables for further processing of fermented products and promoting Zagorje as a truffle region, Vjerana decided to apply for participation in the EWA program. Her desire is to establish her own small business, ensuring a sustainable income for her family and contributing to the development of her native region, Zag
With years of experience in agriculture and horse breeding, Gracija aims to produce manure for organic food production. She believes that the manure she produces can be a serious competitor to artificial fertilizers.
Ivna, a second-year graduate student at the Faculty of Agriculture in Zagreb, wants to promote sustainable and organic ways of nutrition and life in urban areas. Through her project “Adopt a Chicken,” which combines technology and traditional agriculture, she aims to introduce a new way of purchasing food products.
Manuela and her team NADES, want to harness all the benefits that plants offer and produce a plant extract with antioxidant properties.
With rich experience in olive production, Eleonora wants to educate olive growers through agronomic interventions and oil processing by organizing workshops and laboratories that would connect agricultural practice with the final product.
Magdalena, a first-year graduate student in phytomedicine and a passionate lover of plants and music, aims to create safe and ecological food products by connecting tourism, wellness, forest medicine, and music therapy.
Because of the high cost of groceries, Monika observed a growing interest among people in cultivating their vegetables. Therefore, she chose to cultivate vegetable crops using an aeroponic system at her home and extend the opportunity to others.
Naomi Sarah Bosch
Through her project, Naomi Sarah aims to raise awareness among the population about environmental issues, help them gain self-confidence, and foster a connection with nature by utilizing food from the natural environment.
Ivana Rendulić Jelušić
Through the platform she is developing, Ivana aims to facilitate wine production for vineyard owners, monitor agricultural areas, and assess the health of grapevines. She believes that this approach will address issues related to input consumption in viticulture, optimize working hours, and enhance production efficiency.
Petra recognizes the issue of a limited selection of healthy food products in the Croatian market, and she aims to solve this by transforming organic fruits, vegetables, and fresh seasonal produce cultivated in an eco-friendly manner.
During the program, entrepreneurs will not be alone. Throughout their 6-month entrepreneurial journey, they will receive support, knowledge, and experience from 10 mentors:
- Filip Stipančić – business development and user development
- Hermes Arriaga – customer development and business development
- Sandra Vlašić – renewable energy, social impact, and product development
- Dora Zane – business modeling, early-stage validation
- Helena Habdija – social impact business models
- Dražen Nikolić – business development, scaling, and fundraising
- Nikolina Topić – design services and prototype development
- Ana Raguž – social impact, business models, personal development
- Marija Mažić – social impact business models
- Mato Mrkalj – business development in the agricultural industry
About EIT Food Initiative
EIT Food is the largest and most active global community for food innovation. It strongly promotes innovation intending to build a food system that produces healthy and sustainable food.
With the support of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), an agency of the European Union, the EIT Food initiative invests in projects, organizations, and individuals who share their goals for a healthy and sustainable food system. Simultaneously, by fostering innovation potential in businesses and universities, they encourage startups in the agri-food sector to develop new technologies and products. They equip entrepreneurs and experts with the skills needed to transform the food system, placing consumers at the center of their work, and helping to build trust in the origin of their food.
EIT Food is one of the nine knowledge and innovation communities established by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), an independent EU body founded in 2008 to promote innovation and entrepreneurship across Europe.