The winners of EWA women's entrepreneurship programme in Lithuania have been announced
The five-month start-up journey of ten women and their accompanying experienced mentors has come to an end. The coordinator of the EWA programme in Lithuania was AgriFood Lithuania, the main sponsor was Baltic Amadeus, and the initiator was EIT Food.
Brilliance of ideas and accomplished progress in the final
"I am extremely proud of the participants of the EWA programme for the promotion of women's entrepreneurship, whose results of almost half a year of very serious and intensive work we saw during the final event. It was extremely gratifying to see that the eyes and hearts of each participant in this year's project were burning with their ideas. All women were so passionate about creating their business success story and sincerely believed that their ideas are worth to win the EWA programme. All of this year's participants were innovative, strong, stubborn, and persistent, so it is a pity that it was not possible to award them all the same prizes, which they deserve. This was also reflected in the long and reasoned discussions of the commission during the selection of this year's winner", said Kristina Šermukšnytė-Alešiūnienė, the Lithuanian implementer and patron of EIT Food's EWA programme, when awarding participants.
In the final, the ideas presented were the result of a great deal of training and hard work. The business ideas presented by the innovators ranged from innovative or functional food products, special wax packaging, or growing bumblebees for more efficient harvest to a special multi-functional green substrate for hydroponics, processing algae into fertilizer, and an environmentally friendly and zero-waste biodynamic farm.
"We are glad that such initiatives, which encourage women to start a business, appear in Lithuania and become examples for the whole of Europe on how such programs should be implemented. I have no doubt that by providing inspiration to create a business and helping in the first steps, we can change the established business picture of the agriculture and food sector, where women business leaders are found much less often than they should be. We believed in EIT Food's EWA project as soon as we heard about it, and if at least some of the ideas born from the initiative of this project are successfully commercialized, we will be happy to have contributed to the development of the agri-food sector in Lithuania," said Andžej Šuškevič, CEO of Baltic Amadeus, the main sponsor of this program in Lithuania.
A total of 18 thousand euros were awarded to biodynamic and innovative food producers
According to the decision of the commission, which consisted of businessmen, investors, association leaders, and accelerator creators such as Jolanta Valaikienė, Milda Krauzlis, Eglė Ližaitytė, Daiva Keršienė, Gediminas Kvietkauskas, and Modestas Bložė.
The winner of the project and the owner of the main 10,000 euros prize became Dovilė Čiūtaitė-Ilevičienė, who is developing a black garlic product and the brand "Garlic Moon". Her mentor during the program was Vaiva Kubilaitė-Gofman, the business development manager of Baltic Amadeus. When evaluating the final ideas of the participants, the progress realized during the program was 60% of the final assessment, and the final presentation - 40 %.
According to the winner, she didn't understand many things before the program that she understands now. She also got much more confidence in her idea, strengthened her competencies, gained new experiences, made incredible acquaintances, started business partnerships, and discovered many new paths that seemed closed until then.
The second place and a check of 5,000 euros went to Eglė Valuckaitė-Stašauskienė. She runs an amazing biodynamic farm that is CO2 positive on the planet, doesn't waste any food and offers a huge variety of food. She was accompanied by her mentor Zita Petkevičienė during the entire program, who is the director of production and supply chain of "Vikondas group". She has created a wide range of new products during the program, and as E. Valuckaitė-Stašauskienė said, she is extremely grateful to her mentor, who always encouraged her to move forward, did not spare criticism when it was needed, and supported her in those moments when she no longer believed in herself.
The winner of third place and a prize of 3,000 euros went to Šarūnė Vaitekūnė, who created healthy, tasty and health-improving pumpkin snacks. In addition, the participant is ready to start with a platform that, using the knowledge of nutritionists and artificial intelligence, will be able to select the healthiest snacks and the required daily amount of fiber for you. As her mentor Inga Juozapavičienė stated, this participant transformed a lot during the program, after which she became much stronger, more open and changed her attitude towards what are the biggest opportunities and challenges of developing her brand "Cosmic Belly Snacks".
About AgriFood Lithuania DIH
AgriFood Lithuania DIH is a cluster and Digital Innovation Hub that brings together major research, business and public stakeholders in Lithuania for the common pursuit to transform agri-food sector. The organization itself is organizing more than 300 events annually and is participating as a partner in at least 50 initiatives. Agrifood Lithuania DIH is a part of several international projects under the H2020 framework and has a strong background in projects dedicated to women.
Learn more about AgriFood Lithuania DIH on their web page.