Adopt a Chicken provides a chance for anyone to experience farming right from their chair

The lack of representation of women in rural areas not only affects the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem but also prevents many women from fully unleashing their potential. In response to this challenge and to advance the position of women in the agri-food industry, the Empowering Women in Agrifood (EWA) program has been initiated. Lean Startup Croatia, in collaboration with EIT Food, is organizing the EWA program, a support initiative tailored for early-career female entrepreneurs to foster the development of sustainable businesses. The program aims to achieve gender equality and encourage women to take leadership roles in the agri-food industry. In the 6-month entrepreneurial incubation program in Croatia, 10 female entrepreneurs are participating, including Ivna Podrug, the founder of the startup “Adopt a Chicken.” This is her story.

 

The Idea behind the Adopt a Chicken startup

 

The import of table eggs into Croatia from European countries is steadily increasing, with an annual value exceeding 4 million euros. The question arises: what is the origin of these eggs consumed daily, and can one trust the labels and various markings? Such examples are not uncommon in the food industry and require urgent solutions to increase transparency and product traceability.  Integrating digital lifestyles with sustainability empowers consumers to actively participate in the production process. This approach builds trust between producers and consumers, ultimately boosting product transparency.

 

Poultry farming is an essential part of livestock production but has certain negative environmental consequences. A solution to minimize these negative impacts is provided by Adopt a Chicken, a startup focusing on regenerative agriculture. The goal is to invest in mobile self-sustainable chicken coops that reduce environmental harm, use solar energy, and regenerate neglected pastures. The chickens are in their natural environment, free to move around and transport between pastures. Regenerative poultry farming is still in its early stages in Croatia, and I aspire to set a positive example for others due to the considerable potential, particularly in the Dalmatian hinterland, for preserving karst pastures.

Business development

The Adopt a Chicken startup aims to create a website where customers can adopt their chicken, give it a name, and track it through all production stages. The plan includes live video monitoring and weekly email reports. The concept operates on a monthly subscription model, guaranteeing the delivery of fresh eggs to the customer’s doorstep, accompanied by informative updates.

Beyond the online service, the farm located in Dicmo near Split welcomes visitors with open doors. It offers a chance to physically meet the chickens and serves as an opportunity for a family outing in the fresh air of the Dalmatian hinterland.

About EWA program participant

Ivna Podrug, a graduating student at the Faculty of Agriculture, represents the third generation of poultry farmers with a rich tradition spanning over 40 years. Ivna closely follows the trends in contemporary agriculture, placing a strong emphasis on animal welfare and environmental considerations. The startup currently prioritizes floor farming, with plans for a transition to free-range and organic practices in the near future. All eggs are proudly produced without the use of antibiotics, hormones, or any other additives. Ivna expresses, “Each of our products carries a part of us, our tradition, and our family.”

Ivna emphasizes how the Empowering Women in Agrifood program has been a game-changer for her.

“Through the connections I’ve made participating in the program, I’ve found future partners. I met the founders of ruraline.com, who offered me the opportunity to become part of their story. They helped me solve transportation and logistics issues, which is crucial for the continuation of this venture.

Also, I have only words of praise for my mentor Hermes, who generously offered his time and valuable advice. He is always there for motivation and ready to answer numerous questions.

I am grateful for the EWA program because it helped me discover a new part of myself and step out of my comfort zone. I believe it is essential for women in agriculture to build confidence, and participation in such programs is a significant step in that direction.”

About the EIT Food initiative

EIT Food is the largest and most active global community for food innovation, dedicated to fostering innovation to build a food system that produces healthy and sustainable food.

With the backing of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), an EU institution, the EIT Food initiative invests in projects, organizations, and individuals who share their goals for a healthy and sustainable food system. Simultaneously, by unlocking innovation in both businesses and universities, they encourage startups in the agricultural and food sectors to pioneer new technologies and products. Empowering entrepreneurs and experts with the skills required for transforming the food system, they place consumers at the core of their mission, fostering trust in the origins of their food.

EIT Food is one of the nine innovation communities established by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), an independent EU body founded in 2008 to promote innovation and entrepreneurship throughout Europe.

Discover more at www.eitfood.eu or follow them on social media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram.

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